New Zealand writers condemn Fiji censorship

New Zealand writers condemn Fiji censorshipWellington - Fiji military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama's declaration that his country does not need free and open discussion about current issues placed his government "outside the community of civilized peoples," New Zealand's Society of Authors said on Wednesday.

The society, which includes the writers' organization PEN New Zealand, issued a statement saying its members joined a wide range of other freedom of speech advocates throughout the world in deploring the "vicious repression of media" by Fiji's military government.

"We are distressed that such conditions can exist in our region of the world (or, indeed, anywhere)," the statement said.

It said that repression of the media following Bainimarana's reappointment as prime minister after his regime was declared illegal by the Court of Appeal was "so severe that it is feared that even Fiji's citizens simply do not know what is going on."

Under a state of emergency permitting authorities to ban any news deemed likely to cause disorder "ludicrously, even information readily available worldwide, such as the reaction of the UN secretary general to the situation, was banned," the statement said.

"Military censors were stationed in newsrooms, and the prime minister declared simply that Fiji does not need free and open public discussion about current issues. This declaration places the Fiji government outside the community of civilized peoples.

"As friends of all people in Fiji and as protectors, where possible, of the right of free speech, we call on Fiji as an active member of the United Nations to give credence to the [UN] Charter and human rights it supports and for the Fijian government to end its repression of the normal need of people to express their views in a peaceful and public manner, and to restore true democracy to their country", the statement said.

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