It is disappointing that our regional development partners, Australia and New Zealand, have chosen to remain silent on the horrendous manner in which VC Prof Pal Ahluwalia and his wife were terrorised, manhandled and deported from Fiji.
That this despicable act was committed on the orders of Fiji’s prime minister is of grave concern to the people of Fiji, as can be gleaned from both the mainstream and social media.
The background to this sordid saga must be well known to them through their representatives on the USP Council who lent their support to VC Ahluwalia against the machinations of the Fijian representatives on the Council. Indeed, all regional governments (except Fiji) stood behind the VC.
But I believe the issues here are much more profound than the games played on the VC by the sneaky Fiji lot, who were out to protect the corrupt elements caught swindling the university of millions of dollars:
- It is about respect for human rights and the rule of law.
- It is about countering acts of terrorism committed on citizens in contemptuous disregard of their fundamental rights.
- It is about employing politics of fear and intimidation as a tool to decimate the opposition and destroy democracy
- It is about gross misapplication of punitive laws, without following the due process, to get at their critics or those who choose to stand in defence of democracy and good governance.
The historical ties between our countries, the fact that thousands of our people now live in Australia and New Zealand, lend special significance to our relationship. It also places a duty on our larger and much better endowed neighbours to speak out on issues which threaten our basic rights, our wellbeing and security.
An assault on democracy anywhere is an assault on democracy everywhere, is a true maxim. You cannot defend democracy by maintaining silence when it is under attack, more so, in your own backyard.
Why not make human rights, workers rights, respect for the rule of law and democratic values an essential part of your much flouted “Vuavale Partnership”?