2 Jun 2011

Academic deplores silence over serious Fiji human rights abuses

2:29 pm on 2 June 2011

An academic says it's odd but not a surprise that the regional agencies based in Suva have maintained their silence despite the latest allegations about the Fiji regime.

A 2006 coup co-conspirator, Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara, has been making startling revelations about his former colleagues since he evaded bail on a sedition charge and fled to Tonga last month.

He has called for police to investigate the alleged torture of civilians by the military, including claims that the interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, led assaults on women detained at the barracks.

Dr Brij Lal, from the Australian National University, says the failure of regional agencies to speak out reflects fear and self-censorship.

He says it's a sad development.

"Not only for Fiji but for the region as a whole when those institutions, those organisations, those individuals, academics, moral leaders of the community, when they keep silent in the face of this kind of behaviour on the part of the military."

Brij Lal from the Australian National University.

Among the organisations to abstain from all comment are the Pacific Islands Forum and the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights.