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Friday, April 11, 2008
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS ARRESTED IN FIJI
Last week, I spent my week attending a seminar with other Asia-Pacifician in Kuala Lumpur cracking our heads for "Human Rights & Trade".
There we almost 40 of us and were were like a family.
One of them is Tara Chetty, a Fijian who works with Women Rights' Movement.
She (the one who sits left to me) is my group mate in one of my working groups. And human rights is our business.
The following is their press release on the detention
Seventeen human rights defenders were today arrested by police officers in Fiji's capital, Suva, and continue to be detained.
Among the group arrested were Fiji Human Rights Commissioner Shamima Ali, Claire Slatter, Past Coordinator of DAWN; Noelene Nabulivou, Coordinator of Women's Action for Change, Tara Chetty and four other women's rights activists from the Fiji Women's Rights Movement, Edwina Kotoisuva and colleagues from the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre, Jane Keith-Reid and three other activists from the AIDS Taskforce.
Those arrested were holding a peaceful, silent vigil outside the Chinese Embassy, situated along Suva's sea wall. The detainees participated in the vigil to show their solidarity with human rights defenders in Tibet and Tibetans who have been killed and assaulted by the Chinese defense forces.
"These unnecessary arrests have made a big incident out of what was a quiet and peaceful vigil showing solidarity with our fellow activists in Tibet", said Tara Chetty. The detainees attempted to sit in separate groups in order to comply with laws governing public assembly.
These arrests follow the Interim-regime's stance supporting China and the suppression of Tibetan activists.
The detainees are being questioned in groups and report that they are not being mistreated by police. They were arrested for unlawful assembly, and some have been charged. However, officers at the scene appeared initially confused as to what law was allegedly being breached.
"This violation of the human rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, protected in the Fiji Constitution and at international law, is particularly troubling at a time when Fiji is ruled by an unelected government", said Ms Chetty.
FWRM urges the authorities to release the detained human rights defenders and drop all charges.