Fair Play for Fiji
While the Fiji rugby team is here on tour, back home the country is run by a military dictatorship that denies Fiji’s people the freedom of speech, freedom to meet and freedom to join a union.
The Fiji international rugby union team is on a short tour of England and Ireland this month. Unlike most rugby-playing nations, Fiji is no democracy, as the country is run by a vicious military dictatorship which overthrew the elected government in 2006. Even the international team’s manager is a Major in the army implicated personally in human rights abuses.
The military regime has seen Fiji suspended from the Commonwealth and from the Pacific Islands Forum and censured by the International Labour Organisation for its abuse of workers’ rights. Meanwhile the economy has collapsed and most Fijians live in poverty.
People in Fiji lack the most basic, fundamental human rights. The freedom of speech and freedom of the press are radically restricted. Public meetings may only be held with the permission of the authorities. Unions and others deemed to represent a threat to the military dictatorship have faced harassment, threats, arbitrary arrest and travel restrictions and even savage beatings.
Take Sides Today...
The Fijian regime doesn’t seem to be bothered by what’s happening to the people of Fiji, and it doesn’t seem to care what our Governments say. But bizarrely, they do seem to worry about their public image, and they definitely care about rugby (and sport generally – we’ve heard that the main concern the regime has about being suspended from the Commonwealth is that they can’t send a team to the Commonwealth Games!) So we’re using the Fijian rugby tour of England and Ireland as a focal point for protest: the regime’s attention will be focused on the games and on our two countries, and they will take more notice of public concern in those countries now than at almost any other time. So send them a message when they’re actually likely to pay attention!
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