Nothing epitomizes the past eight years of media repression in Fiji better than the video of dictator Frank Bainimarama slapping a woman TV journalist in the face last week.
|Click picture to view video of Josaia (Frank) Bainimarama slapping Amanda Gillies|
He first pushed away her microphone, then began waving his hand in her face. “I will move away,” promised Gillies, who courageously refused to be intimidated and persisted as any good journalist should. “But I just want to know if you . . .”
As campaigning culminates, even some of Bainimarama's longest-serving sycophants are deserting his sinking ship. Crosbie Walsh posted a sheepish entry which he labelled a “Personal Confession” on his blog yesterday. “What if I’m wrong,” worried Croz.
When I started this blog in May 2007 it was to offset the distorted reporting of NZ journalist Michael Field, and I was writing mainly for an overseas audience. . . . Since then, as I read about what the Bainimarama government was doing and talked to a wide range of people in Fiji, my position gradually changed. . . . To make matters worse, a number of government-initiated judicial actions seemed personally charged and vindictive. And its failure to have public audits and reveal salaries laid it wide open to further charges by the Opposition.
Bainimarama is normally a friendly person who enjoys being with people. I am optimistic that this positive side of his personality will be used to good effect in Parliament, and the “short fuse” kept in check.
The US embassy reports also document cases of rape and sexual assault by military personnel, including at least one instance of a group of detainees forced to engage in group sexual acts. In another case a prominent human rights activist was “felt up” by a senior military officer and was “warned she would receive worse treatment unless she stopped her activities.”
The Catholic priest recounted then receiving a telephone call from an angry Bainimarama, who called him “a f*&^%$ up priest.” Then came the text messages. “F*&^% U arsehole, . . Start saying your goodbyes Father Kevin James Barr, Australian national, work permit as a missionary, expiry date for permit 31/12/2013. . . Go and be a missionary in China.”