Australia and Fiji – for the people against Govt

Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Affairs, Richard Marles, was recently interviewed about the relationship between Australia and Fiji.  He said that Australia’s beef is not with the the Fiji people, “in fact quite the opposite. We want to stand with the people of Fiji in what is a very difficult time for them.”

He said Australia took issue with is with the interim regime in Fiji and with what it is doing both to the country of Fiji and its people.

Among other concerns he noted that “Church organisations have freedom of association. Church organisations have their meetings banned…The people who are doing that are the interim regime of Fiji and they’re the people we’ve got an issue with,” said Marles.
Last month the associate director of church solidarity in the Pacific for Australia’s Uniting Church, Bruce Mullen,  told Pacific Beat he has been in contact with his counterparts in Fiji.”I had a conversation with somebody from one of the congregations who said they are not allowed to conduct meetings of any kind at their congregational level and his comment was, ‘we hope this impasse will soon pass and we may be able to conduct our meetings again’,” he said.”So it’s a kind of patient, waiting, long-suffering kind of approach I think.” In a recent press release Ratu Tevita has accused Attorney General Aiyaz Khaiyum of trying to get control over Fijian land by removing “two key stumbling blocks”, the Great Council of Chiefs and the Methodist Church.In response to this Professor Crosbie Walsh says he did not see any direct connection between the Methodist Church and the land. He was of the opinion that most observers thought “Bainimarama was concerned about the Church’s political involvement, the racism and extreme nationalism of some of its leaders, their support for previous coups, and their opposition to the People’s Charter and other government initiatives.” 


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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