Editorial | Startling revelations

National Union of Workers general secretary Felix Anthony tells all about the way he, his family and trade unionists were treated under the previous government. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

There are stories that need to be told for the sake of transparency and for the sake of the nation.

Then there is the bit about law and order, and adherence to the rule of law.

So when Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) general secretary Felix Anthony finally opened up about what he went through under the previous government, there are many questions popping up now.

What is serious is the allegation that he was assaulted by officers of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and he was a victim of intimidating tactics.

It inches out the notion of involvement of the military in the intimidation of Fijians.

And in a democracy, this isn’t a good thing.

Speaking on The Fiji Times’ online platform, The Lens @177, Mr Anthony said the former government saw FTUC as the opposition to the government.

“I think the lowest point during that period was when I was assaulted, and this is quite apart from the many times that I’d been warned and intimidation tactics tried on me,” Mr Anthony said.

“Our role was to defend workers’ rights. Our role was to ensure workers were able to exercise their rights and that the government respected international conventions that they sign on.

“This did not go down well with the government and then they decided that intimidation was the way to try and quieten the trade union movement.”

These are serious revelations and will place pressure on the former administration to respond appropriately.

But what will come out quite strongly though is the notion about the involvement of the military, and strong arm tactics in the governance of our country.

As the army works on its image, we look up to the powers that be to reflect on the comments by Mr Anthony.

They are quite serious and point out a part of our history that many Fijians obviously would not want to relive.

Mr Anthony talks about the union movement, alleged suppression and fear and intimidation.

He talks about workers’ rights, assault and imprisonment.

He talks about suffering, the impact of action against him on his family and those around him.

He talks about survival and the rights of people.

There were people in uniform who did some terrible things over the years.

They remain faceless people now.

Whether they were simply following orders is besides the point.

The Fiji Times has its own experience.

A senior journalist was arrested by police about five times and put in a cell three times during the rule of the former government.

We acknowledge Mr Anthony’s revelations.

As a nation, we cannot afford to have this happen to anyone again.

We are encouraged by the direction the military is taking now.

There must be confidence in our security forces, which includes the police force and corrections, and the ultimate challenge would be to uphold the rule of law.

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