|THUMBS UP: Mara, Suliasi and supporters.|
Roko Ului Mara supporters say the most devastating video about Frank Bainimarama’s coup and the people around it are about to be revealed in a new batch of videos.
According to Suliasi Daunitutu, of the Australian Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement (FDFM), Mara has decided that "the best way to expose the lies is to start from the beginning and work our way towards 2006".
The videos will be distributed worldwide and people will be encouraged to copy and "send to relatives in Fiji, in the urban and rural areas, islands and to the four corners of Fiji."
Daunitutu says the new Mara videos will "answer all your questions and this is the truth behind the whole smoke and mirror that Fijians had been hoodwinked with for the past 4 and half years."
Mara's second meeting in Australia is meanwhile expected to pull in between 150 to 200 people. The meeting is tomorrow night in Melbourne.
FDFM says it has been advised three bus loads are coming to Chadstone from Robinvale and other rural areas where Fijians are working on farms. That's on top of the Lau community in Melbourne.
The first forum in Canberra had a small turnout but the group forwarded to us letters of support it says it got from the GCC and the president of ACTU (you can read these at the end of the story).
The FDFM Victoria chapter secretary, Bale Sigabalavu, says despite the poor turnout two major resolutions were passed: the adoption of the FDFM Strategic Development Plan 2011-2014 and the adoption of the Transitional Plan for Democracy in Fiji: 10 Point Plan.
She says the meeting, with Mara as keynote speaker, was also a chance for the different FDFM chapters inter-state, guest speakers, academics, pro-democracy fighters and friends of Fiji to meet, deliberate and adopt new resolutions to take the movement forward in the fight to "restore democracy in our beautiful Land".
The movement also elected Raju Singh as the vice- president of FDFM Australia in an effort to encourage non-Fijian members, especially Indo Fijians, to be part of the movement.
FDFM plan to consolidate its work with interstate branches and prepare for the Pacific Island Forum in Auckland in September and the CHOGM meeting in Perth in October, followed by its AGM in November in Melbourne.
Sigabalavu says a lot more work has been done on the ground for this meeting with news of Mara's second meeting being pushed via radio announcements SBS, email circulations to various networks including church, social network, Facebook, pro-democracy groups interstate and via the coconut wireless.
"The Fijians are coming in from Robinvale/Griffith/Mildura to listen to RUM. I am getting worried that the venue we have booked might not fit them if we get 300 people. Our president has been inundated with phone calls with offers to host RUM here. We didn’t expect that especially when some kai-vitis don’t even support our group."
Sigabalavu says there have been some Fijians who are against Mara but have come around.
"We have been having lots of discussions with them informally about his stand to update them since most don’t read the blogs etc.
"They are now open minded about it and are willing to attend and ask questions. Some are scared that their photos will be circulated here and in Fiji and they will be taken up to the army camp for torture. Some think their families will be tortured if they are seen to support RUM. So we are at a cross-road, but if they willing to come and listen then we have done our part."
Editor's Note: Bale Sigabalavu says there has been a change in executive positions. Peter Waqaitairewa resigned in April and Suliasi Daunitutu is now interim president and will be officially made president in November at its AGM. Jone Baledrokadroka is explaining the 10 point plan since he was part of the think tank and has been invited to Melbourne as the second keynote speaker.
Read the letter from the GCC
Read the letter from ACTU
That letter has been reproduced here for those having problems opening the link:
The Australian Council of Trade Unions is gravely concerned about the deteriorating social and political situation in Fiji. In the first half of this year we have seen the call for democratic reform sweep across northern Africa and the Middle East like a wildfire, toppling or bringing to the brink repressive regimes in a number of countries – Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Libya. Oppressed peoples across the world have again shown their preparedness to sacrifice all for genuine democracy.
Free trade unions – those that are independent of the governing regime, and consequently usually the victims of persecution – have again been at the forefront of the movement for democratic reforms. Closer to home and plain for all to see, there is no democracy in today’s Fiji.
A series of decisions introduced by the ‘interim’ regime of Commodore Frank Bainimarama have curtailed human rights and suppressed dissenting views. Fiji’s Constitution has been abrogated. The independence and integrity of the judiciary has been compromised and media freedoms curtailed. The Bainimarama military dictatorship which seized power in 2006 has abandoned any pretext of commitment to the principles of equality, non-discrimination, and human, trade union, social and economic rights. The regime has adopted intimidation tactics to harass and instill fear in workers and trade unions. Twice this year, the President of the Fiji Trade Union Congress was detained by officers of the Fiji military; on one of those occasions he was physically assaulted. His family and colleagues did not know his whereabouts while he was detained, nor when he would be released. Other unionists have similarly been detained and harassed. The International Trade Union Confederation annual global survey on Violation of Trade Union Rights released yesterday (Friday 10 June) documents the continuing harassment of unionists on Fiji under the military dictatorship. Today, I am at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva attending the International Labour Conference along with Felix Anthony and I can inform you, that we have raised these issues before the international forum.
The role of trade unions as the voice of workers has never been more important in Fiji. Since the latest coup the economic situation in Fiji has deteriorated sharply. Economic growth has stalled. Unemployment, underemployment and poverty are rising. Today it is estimated that 40 percent of Fijians are living on or below the poverty line - on less than $1.25 a day. On such meagre incomes it is a struggle to meet basic needs and the task is becoming increasingly difficult as the cost of food, electricity, water and fuel prices escalate. There are now over 200 squatter settlements around the major towns. Approximately 60 percent of those living below the poverty line are in work. But it is not decent work. Decent work provides stable, predictable and adequate income to families. Decent work is a quality job under conditions of freedom, equity, security and dignity. Decent work is one of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, but many Fijians do not have it.
Trade unions play an important role in the promotion of decent work. As the voice for workers, trade unions also hold an important voice in civil society, an integral aspect of any democracy. In Bainimarama’s Fiji the capacity of trade unions to represent workers has been sharply and significantly curtailed. Trade unions have no right to challenge any decision of Government or Government-owned enterprises in Fiji regarding redundancy or change to any terms or conditions of employment. This violates Fiji’s own labour laws and the obligations it has as a member of the International Labour Organisation. A new proposed decree, the Critical Industries in Financial Distress Decree, would effectively abolish unions in specified major corporations in Fiji. Despite the political context, Fijian trade unions are committed to represent Fijian workers and their families. Australian unions will stand shoulder to shoulder with Fijian workers, their families and trade unions in the struggle for human rights, sustainable peace and democracy.
Long-standing social tensions dating back to the British colonial period have led some to question whether democracy is viable in Fiji. In my view Fiji is not viable without democracy. Fiji urgently needs democratic institutions to ensure norms of restraint, tolerance, inclusiveness, egalitarianism, acceptance and co-existence are widely accepted. Fiji must hold immediate elections, return to democracy and recommit to a rights-based approach. Universal human rights and the economic and social situation demand it. In pursuit of those goals, I wish the Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement every success. The Australian Council of Trade Unions strongly supports you in pursuit of your goals.
The meeting is tomorrow (June 25), in Melbourne, 7pm at the St Marks Uniting Church Hall, 7 Edward Street, Chadstone.
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