Fiji military regime bans all media criticism

April 13th, 2009 - 6:17 am ICT by IANS  

Wellington, April 13 (DPA) Fiji’s military regime which was reappointed last week after being declared illegal by the Court of Appeal has banned all media criticism under emergency regulations, according to reports from the capital, Suva, Monday.
The Ministry of Information has sent letters to newspapers, and radio and television stations advising that all news stories published or broadcast from now on should not carry any negativity, the Fijivillage news website reported.

It quoted Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum as saying that the government headed by military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama wants all media organisations in the country to publish or broadcast news that is pro-Fiji.

The leading newspaper, The Fiji Times, has been warned that if it continues to publish empty pages or blank spaces indicating where military censors have banned articles, it will be shut down and its publisher deported, Radio Australia reported quoting sources in Fiji.

Television Fiji, which was made to cut a planned item in Saturday’s news, did not screen its usual evening news bulletin Sunday in protest at the censors, who have been posted in every media outlet’s newsroom.

Bainimarama’s regime has attacked the press since he ousted the elected government in a bloodless coup in December 2006.

Two of The Fiji Times’s Australian publishers have been deported in the past 18 months, and in January the paper was fined for publishing a letter critical of the High Court, while the editor, Netani Rika, was given a suspended three-month prison sentence for contempt of court.

The Australian publisher of another daily, The Fiji Sun, was also deported last year.

A Fijian citizen in Suva, too afraid to be named, was quoted by Wellington’s Dominion Post as saying he feared being arrested, beaten or killed for speaking out.

“There’s no constitution, there’s no law,” he said. “They are the law.”

The Court of Appeal ruled Thursday that Bainimarama’s government was illegal, but President Ratu Josefa Iloilo then sacked the judges, revoked the constitution, declared emergency powers and reappointed Bainimarama and his cabinet for five years.

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