Fiji military government censors media

April 12th, 2009 - 2:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Kevin Rudd Wellington, April 12 (DPA) Fiji’s biggest newspaper appeared with a blank page Sunday and the national television network refused to broadcast its usual evening news bulletin to protest censorship by the military government, according to reports from the capital Suva.
The Fiji Times also removed its popular social networking page from its website, saying the government had issued regulations requiring publishers to first submit all content to officials for clearance before publishing it.

“Because you, not we, generate this content, we are unable to comply. Accordingly, has been taken down until further notice,” it said.

Fiji Television refused to broadcast its normal 6 p.m. news bulletin Sunday, correspondents for New Zealand TV channels reported.

On Saturday, the news was preceded by an announcement saying: “This bulletin has been censored by the Ministry of Information.”

Fiji’s President Ratu Josefa Iloilo imposed emergency rule and posted censors in the offices of newspapers, radios and television stations Friday after re-appointing military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama as prime minister for the next five years.

Bainimarama has governed the country since he ousted the elected government in a bloodless military coup in December 2006, but his administration was declared illegal by the Court of Appeal Thursday.

Iloilo promptly sacked the judges, abolished the 1997 constitution, imposed emergency rule and swore in Bainimarama and his same nine-member cabinet Friday, saying there would be no fresh elections until September 2014.

A Radio New Zealand correspondent reported that Fijians were reluctant to discuss the situation for fear of retribution because of the clamp on free speech which forbids criticism of the government.

The correspondent said that ordinary people were not discussing what’s happening because they did not trust anyone except very close friends.

Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that Fiji was now “virtually a military dictatorship” and New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said it was inevitable that the state of more than 830,000 people would be suspended from the 16-member Pacific Islands Forum.

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