Bainimarama’s statement inciteful, says Catanasiga

FCOSS executive director Vani Catanasiga during an interview with the Fiji Times' The Lens @177 in Suva. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU/FT FILE

Fiji Council of Social Services executive director Vani Catanasiga has labelled recent comments by Opposition Leader Voreqe Bainimarama as “inciteful”, claiming they could “motivate or drive certain individuals or groups to resort to violence”.

She said this in response to Mr Bainimarama’s claim in a statement on Wednesday night that “multiple Fijians” have directly and/or indirectly approached the FijiFirst party for assistance in seeking redress against the “repressive and oppressive conduct” that the coalition Government has displayed since taking office.

In the statement, Mr Bainimarama urged anyone who had issues with the coalition government to write to the FijiFirst party for assistance.

In response, Ms Catanasiga said in the past 16 years, the FijiFirst government built mechanisms for redress and complaints that had been effective and should have been recommended as a first option.

“I understand that Leader of Opposition Voreqe Bainimarama has urged citizens who are living in fear or whose rights and freedoms as outlined in the Fijian Constitution have been undermined to email the FijiFirst party,” she said.

“While his concern is commended, his statement is inciteful and from an atrocity early-warning perspective; could motivate or drive certain individuals or groups to resort to violence as a response to real or perceived threats insinuated in such a statement.”

Ms Catanasiga said should any complainant feel unsafe, they should reach out to human rights non-governmental organisations for assistance.

She said there were also established institutions including the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA) and the Fiji Police Force that people could go to for help.

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