"Oppressive Presence" - Image Credit: Reuters
The Real Survivor Fiji - Human Writes Blogesphere
Through the month of February, the new unelected and military Government of Fiji clamped down on the freedom of the press to report what it felt were rights abuses and opinions about the legality of the December Coup action taken on behalf of Commodore Frank Bainimarama.
At the beginning of May, the Military began to try and squash the voices that began to pop-up on the World Wide Web with some initial success.
The web, however, can not be silenced short of unplugging the islands nation from the rest of the world.
Of course, with the way that Commodore Frank seems to be running the nations economy into the ground, and declaring that elections to re-establish democracy will not be able to be held until the year 2010, and let us not forget the increased human rights abuses that naturally happen through the process of an illegal military takeover of a "rule of law" based democratic nation - Frank is well on his way to accomplishing this, the unplugging of Fiji from the rest of the world, on his own.
This report from AAP via The New Zealand Herald -
Fijian activists turn to blogs to protest coup
By Xavier La Canna - 5:50PM Tuesday March 20, 2007
The names of the weblogs seem benign - White Rose, Hearts and Minds, Good Men (and Women) Doing Something, Intelligentsiya, Discombobulated Bubu.
But these blogs, and others like them, have been sprouting up in Fiji to protest last year's military coup and alleged human rights abuses that have raised serious concerns in Australia, New Zealand and the US.
Probably the best known is Intelligentsiya, the work of mainstream journalists who say the military regime is stifling their efforts to conventionally report what is happening in their country.
It was launched on January 26, about five weeks after the coup, and vowed to highlight a rash of abuses blamed on the military.
"We felt that a site like Intelligentsiya was all the more important to document and discuss the army's ever-growing human rights abuses - most notably the silencing of dissenting opinion by detention and intimidation," the first posting on the site said.
"These abuses are carried out by the armed forces in the name of 'national security'."
But Intelligentsiya has angered the interim military government, which has branded it a bogus platform for unverified reports of alleged abuses.
And earlier this month, military spokesman Neumi Leweni said efforts were underway to establish exactly who was producing material for the site.
Leweni's warning coincided with another to all journalists in Fiji that the military would haul them in for questioning if they were deemed to have filed "irresponsible" reports.
Since then, one of Intelligentsiya's authors has been questioned, but the site's reports continue to be filed. Supporters can even buy t-shirts carrying the blog's address and the slogan: "We will not be silent".
Good Men (and Women) Doing Something takes it name from the Edmund Burk saying that "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing".
"If enough of us start saying the same thing ... that the coup is wrong and that we want and need to have the rule of law in place, and if we all stand together and make this statement, Bainimarama and his illegal government will have to listen," the site says.
The authors of the sites sound brave, but at least one - titled Ms Vakaivosavosa's Blog - has opted not to continue.
"At this time in Fiji, the climate is not right to continue blogging and I want no-one harmed on account of this blog," the final posting on the site said.
"I have received no communication from anyone to stop blogging or to delete the blog - the decision is mine alone."
Intelligentsiya authors also had to retract a story they posted recently about a man they claimed had been beaten to death by soldiers.
The backdown was used by the government as evidence the site could not be trusted.
The military spokesman Leweni recently said the interim government did not impede the media.
"We haven't really interfered with the media. All we have done with the media is getting them to report the truth," he said.
"We actually raised issues with some of them on articles they have published that were totally untrue."
The managing director of Communications Fiji Ltd, William Parkinson, whose company runs the Fiji Village website, said he closed down a popular forum recently after a visit from the deputy commander of Fiji's military, Captain Esala Teleni.
Parkinson later denied the military had pressured him to do so, and that the forum was closed because people posted personal and racial slurs.
In the past month, the general manager of the Fiji Daily Post and the news director of Fiji Television were detained separately over reports the military objected to.
Coup leader Frank Bainimarama, who has appointed himself interim prime minister, has put the entire media industry on notice that his regime won't tolerate reporting deemed to be mischievous.
"We take people up and find out why they are coming up with these stories, which are false," he said earlier this month.