Mar 22, 2013

South Pacific's Papa Doc exposed

Article by KARL DU FRESNE 


Apologists for the illegitimate Fijian government led by Frank Bainimarama have melted away as the regime's true thuggishness has been exposed.

Fiji tyrant Bainimarama - Pacific's Papa Doc

In the years following Mr Bainimarama's seizure of power, many gave him the benefit of the doubt, deluding themselves that he was genuinely concerned about breaking the dominance of the Fijian elite and protecting Fiji Indians from discrimination.

But in the murk of Fijian politics, it seems no agenda is pure. Whatever his motives at the start, Mr Bainimarama has morphed into a stereotypical megalomaniac.

In the unlikely event that anyone still believed in him after he intimidated the media, suppressed dissidents, repeatedly postponed elections and tore up a draft constitution (partly paid for by New Zealand), then the ugly truth must have finally dawned when Mr Bainimarama defended the police thugs shown on video beating up two prisoners.

There can no longer be any doubt that Mr Bainimarama is the Pacific's Papa Doc. Which raises the question, what can we do?

We can certainly no longer look the other way and pretend it isn't happening. Neither can we expect that normal diplomatic tut-tutting will cut any ice. Mr Bainimarama is impervious to such gestures and grows more arrogant by the month.

Fiji Tourism's Newly launched Logo

On an individual level, New Zealanders can protest by not going to Fiji for their holidays. The smiling faces on tourist posters can't disguise the reality that Fiji is an oppressive police state, run by a tyrant who is contemptuous of human rights and the rule of law.

But acts of individual conscience are not enough. New Zealand and Australia should be thinking hard about putting the squeeze on Mr Bainimarama by applying economic sanctions.

The argument against such sanctions is that they penalise the innocent. Jobs will be lost and people may go hungry. But that argument didn't stop the world from blockading South Africa in the apartheid era, and it worked. Mr Bainimarama has shown he is immune to anything less.

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