Thursday, 3 September 2009 9:34 AM

Pacific Freedom Forum Condemns Threats against Fiji Newspaper Editor

The Pacific Freedom Forum, along with Pacific media freedom awardees, has condemned threats made against an editor of one of Fiji's main newspapers in a press statement, describing them as 'serious violations of globally accepted standards of human rights'.

PFF STATEMENT

For immediate release: Tuesday 1 September 2009:

Pacific media freedom awardees from Tonga and Samoa are part of the regional condemnation of the latest threats made against Fiji Times Editor in Chief and 2009 PINA Pacific Media Freedom Award winner, Netani Rika.

Last week, the pro-Fiji regime Blog, Real Fiji News, named Rika in a threat which ended: "... your day is coming don't worry about that, in fact we have one little surprise left for you".

The Fiji Times Editor told a Radio Australia news journalist on Friday August 28th of "strange visitors at home and a phone call to the newsroom asking when I would be back."

"The latest threats against a leading and lauded Pacific journalist, coming as they do on top of earlier attacks on Fiji's journalists, require the strongest condemnation as they are serious violations of globally accepted standards of human rights," PFF co-chair, Susuve Laumaea said from Papua New Guinea.

"The harassment and intimidation of journalists in Fiji and their families must stop. We urge Fiji's leadership to back off from supporting an environment where it's OK to rob any person and their families of the right to security in their own homes, simply because they have done no crime other than being a journalist. The leadership must take responsibility and issue a public statement condemning any threats to journalists," says PFF co-chair Monica Miller, of American Samoa.

And two former Media Freedom awardees have added their voices to the Pacific Freedom Forum's condemnation of continuing threats and intimidation against Rika personally, and Fiji's journalists generally.

Tonga's leading media publisher and twice Pacific Islands Media Association award winner, Kalafi Moala, himself no stranger to serious threats against himself, his family, and his business, expressed his outrage at the latest threats against the Times Editor and his family.

"I am distressed by the mindless threats to a fellow Pacific journalist, and the meaningless persecution of his organisation," Moala said from Nuku'alofa, Tonga.

"On behalf of Tongan journalists, I wish to object in the strongest way possible to the treatment by the Fiji regime of Mr. Rika, and I call on Commodore Bainimarama and his associates to refrain unconditionally from this inhumane treatment," he says.

Samoa's publisher of the Samoa Observer Newspaper Group, Savea Sano Malifa, also voiced "deep concern about the way Fijian journalists are being treated by the Fiji regime."

"Please convey to the Fiji interim government how outraged we are in Samoa with their despicable treatment of journalist Netani Rika of the Fiji Times among others," says Malifa, himself also no stranger to threats against himself, his family, employees, and business for upholding media freedom.

"We should all learn from our past. Coups and dictators come and go, journalists remain to clean up the mess," he says. "I'm told Bainimarama has blood links to my village of Afega in Samoa. If that is so, I plead Aat on the blood of his ancestors and for the sake of that sacred relationship, he should end this madness."

"Making serious threats against others, particularly threats that require people simply going about their lawful activities to increase security around their homes, families, and businesses, is a criminal offence, and the PFF calls on the Fiji police to investigate online threats as seriously as threats made via any other medium," says Miller.

"If the sources of earlier and the latest threats against Netani Rika are not prosecuted promptly, that completely proves the accuracy of his remarks about the Fiji police in his recent talk at the University of Queensland," she said.

Letters to the Editor All Letters
By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province