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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Published

06 September 2019

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Fiji Women's Rights Movement

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NGOCHR: Stop Civil Society Intimidation Over Their support for West Papua 6/09/19

NGOCHR: Stop Civil Society Intimidation Over Their support for West Papua

06/09/19 

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights is extremely concerned and disappointed with the harassment and intimidation against human rights defenders and allies of the Free West Papua Movement.

This week the Pacific Council of Churches and the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre were asked to remove West Papua’s Morning Star flag and banner from their private premises.

The Morning Star was first raised when West Papua gained independence from the Netherlands in 1961. The Morning Star flag is not only a symbol of freedom but also a symbol of Papuan hope for justice and prosperity and represents the people’s struggle to self-determination and freedom from the control of the Indonesian government.

The Pacific Council of Churches raised the Morning Star to protest the recent killings of West Papuan protestors by the Indonesian security forces. They were visited by the Fiji Police who claimed to be acting on the orders of the Ministry of Defence to remove the flag. The police have said that flying this flag was a breach of the Public Order Act. Similarly, the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre received calls and visits from the Fiji Police to remove the banner depicting the flag on their premises The Police have since then apologised to FWCC. Various CSOs, NGOs and allies gathered on Wednesday to condemn the harassment faced by Fiji human rights defenders and show solidarity for West Papua.

The right to freedom of speech and expression is enshrined in Fiji’s Constitution and must be upheld and respected by everyone. These acts by authorities create a culture of fear and intimidation, which should have no place in our democratic country.

The NGOCHR is troubled by this interference in favour of the Indonesian government after the Fijian Prime Minister highlighted his concern over the West Papua human rights violations during the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu. Human rights defenders, CSOs and NGOs play a vital role in highlighting human rights violations not only in Fiji but also in the region.

 We hope to see an end to this harassment and intimidation.

For more information contact NGOCHR Chair Nalini Singh This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.