International outrage today at the detainment of a second Fiji trade unionist with Australia's Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd condemning the arrest of the National Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, Felix Anthony.
In a statement, Rudd described the arrest and the failure of the regime to charge Anthony and Urai as unacceptable: "This is another example of what appears to be a concerted campaign by the Fiji authorities to target and intimidate trade unionists and other political opponents."
Rudd says the Australian government says it is watching developments closely and is calling on the Fiji interim government to release Urai and Anthony from detention.
Australian unions have also concemned the arrest saying it is increasingly concerned at what appears to be a systematic campaign of persecution by the regime of workers and their representatives.
The ACTU President, Ged Kearney, says the regime is resorting to strong arm tactics: “The fact that not just one but two union leaders have been arrested and detained in Fiji within a week is an alarming and aggressive tactic...
"The intimidation of workers and their representatives in Fiji is continuing unabated despite international condemnation."
In New Zealand, the Labour Party's Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Maryan Street, noted both Anthony and Urai have already suffered at the hands of the regime, having both been arrested and beaten previously.
"The New Zealand Labour Party calls on the Fiji regime to release these men and restore their human rights, or at the very least, charge them with something which is not a pretence or charade," she said.
"We are concerned for their welfare. Felix has been roughed up before. This is not tolerable in a near neighbour. Bainimarama's regime has no regard for human rights or trade union rights. This kind of brutal suppression shows the regime for what it is."Fiji is no nearer to democracy now than it was when Bainimarama took it by force. These men must be released."
Attar Singh, Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions general secretary, says Anthony's arrest is not a surprise and the talk among workers and unions is that Anthony and Urai have been linked to the campaign against the recent Essential National Industries Decree.
The regime's Information Permanent Secretary, Sharon Smith Johns, says Anthony's arrest is related to on-going investigations which also include Urai and that police are hoping to lay charges early next week.
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