The Proposed Be The Change is extremely disappointed and appalled at the Fiji police decision to detain members of the opposition parties and a civil society representative for merely excising their rights to freedom of expression.
Biman Prasad, Sitiveni Rabuka, Tupeni Baba, Attar Singh, and Jone Dakuvula’s arrest is unwarranted and unconstitutional, and oozes of bullying tactics employed to shut down opposing voices.
The five have been arrested for allegedly attending a Constitution Forum organized by Pacific Dialogue Forum this week and not having the permit to do so. This comes after police shut down a meeting organized by Dialogue Fiji, ironically on constitution day that guarantees freedom of expression.
In July 2014, the attorney general himself had declared that, public permits were no longer required for meetings as long as they were not on a public road, in public parks, playgrounds, or arenas.
None of these meeting were held in a public arena, yet authorities have taken drastic steps to shut it down, to an extent that police have searched homes and offices of the detainees, confiscating Mr Prasad’s laptop.
This is igniting fear and suppression in the public at large, impinges on the right to freedom of expression and association and goes against the values of genuine democracy.
We condemn this very undemocratic and controlling move by the police and appeal to the authorities to release the five people with dignity and respect.
The Proposed Be The Change stands in solidarity with the detained members.