Fiji to deport Catholic priest
Australian Father Kevin Barr is now believed to be inside the Australian High Commission in Suva, seeking protection.
In a brief phone conversation with Fairfax Media, he said "I cannot talk..."
"Our worst fears have eventuated, I am in an awkward position."
Sources in Suva told Fairfax Media that the military tried to set up a meeting with Barr but he instead went to the diplomatic mission.
After the news broke on Stuff, the military's immigration minister Joketani Cokanasiga declared Barr was a "prohibited immigrant due to a breach in his work permit".
"The Department has issued a formal notice to Father Barr who has until Sunday the 27th of January to leave the country."
Barr joins a long list of people who have been deported by Bainimarama, including two New Zealanders and an Australian diplomat, a Fairfax Media reporter and reporters from Television New Zealand and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Barr, who has lived in Fiji for 32 years, was long seen as a Bainimarama supporter but earlier this month he was subjected to a torrent of abuse after he suggested the Chinese flag could replace the Union Jack on Fiji's planned new flag.
But after he made the Chinese crack in a letter to the Fiji Sun, he got a phone call from Bainimarama himself.
"Then in a very angry voice he said that I should apologise to the people of Fiji for my letter concerning the Fijian flag in the newspaper," Barr said in a letter he wrote privately to the Australian High Commission but which has been leaked in blogs. Barr confirmed to Fairfax Media it was his letter.
"(Bainimarama) then called me 'a f***** up priest' and said I had become anti-government," Barr said. He repeated the phrase again and threw in a few swear words and told him to go back to where he came from. "His tone was angry and really over the top."
Minutes later he got a text message from Bainimarama: "I think you owe the people of Fiji an apology for your childish comments. You give all Catholic priests a bad name." Barr said he replied that he was not anti-government but disappointed at some developments.
He then got a reply from Bainimarama:
"F*** U a***hole. Stay well away from me."Shortly later he got another text telling him to "start saying your goodbyes" and pointing out his work permit expired at the end of the year: "Go and be a missionary in China".
"I have heard that he has treated others in a similar way and aims to intimidate," he said.
"Those who heard of the above exchanges were shocked and very concerned that the prime minister could act in this way."
- © Fairfax NZ News