Saturday, May 29, 2021

Days of Fiji ‘banana republic’ protests remembered in Bavadra reunion

Coalition for Democracy chair Adi Asenaca "Dia" Uluiviti and Jo Elvidge do an
impromptu reenactment of a "banana republic" protest - complete with balaclava mask -
by Fiji democracy protesters in Auckland during 1987 at last night's Bavadra
memorial reunion. IMAGE: David Robie/APR


Bananas, balaclavas and banners … these were stock-in-trade for human rights activists of the New Zealand-based Coalition for Democracy in Fiji who campaigned against then Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka’s original two coups in 1987 and the “banana republic” coup culture that emerged.

Many of the activists, politicians, trade unionists, civil society advocates and supporters of democracy in Fiji gathered at an Auckland restaurant in Cornwall Park to reflect on their campaign and to remember the visionary Fiji Labour Party prime minister Dr Timoci Bavadra who was ousted by the Fiji military on 14 May 1987.

Speakers included Auckland mayor Phil Goff, who was New Zealand foreign minister at the time, and keynote Richard Naidu, then a talented young journalist who had emerged as Dr Bavadra’s spokesperson — “by accident” he recalls — and movement stalwarts.

The mood of the evening was a fun-filled and relaxed recollection of coup-related events as about 40 participants — many of them exiled from Fiji — sought to pay tribute to the kindly and inspirational leadership of Dr Bavadra who died from cancer two years after the coup.

Participants agreed that it was a tragedy that Dr Bavadra had died such an untimely death at 55, robbing Fiji of a new style of social justice leadership that stood in contrast with the autocratic style of the current Fiji “democracy”.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Time for NZ to speak up clearly for Palestinian rights and international law


Palestine, West Papua and Western Sahara are places where the indigenous people
are struggling for freedom and human rights. CARTOON: © Malcolm Evans


WHEN Nanaia Mahuta was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, there were hopes for a change in government thinking towards the struggles of indigenous people. The minister said she hoped to bring her experience and cultural identity as an indigenous woman to her role on international issues.

Palestine, West Papua and Western Sahara are places where the indigenous people are struggling for freedom and human rights and early on there was hope New Zealand would join the 138 member states of the United Nations that recognise Palestine.

However the hope has faded and Mahuta finally spoke on Tuesday, via a tweet, saying she was “deeply concerned” about the deteriorating situation in Jerusalem and Gaza. She called for a “rapid de-escalation” from Israel and the Palestinians, for Israel to “cease demolitions and evictions” and for “both sides to halt steps which undermine prospects for a two-state solution”.

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