FTUC: Lame excuse

FIJI Trades Union Congress (FTUC) national secretary Felix Anthony says the decision by the Fiji Police Force to refuse a march permit application through Suva today is lame.

Mr Anthony said police informed his office on Thursday that the permit for the march would not be issued because he was under investigation.

“After many enquiries with the police, we were told they were merely waiting for the letter from the Suva City Council (SCC) before our permit would be issued,” Mr Anthony said.

“It was apparent to us from a period of nine weeks since we applied for the permit that the Government was not going to grant us this permit for one reason or the other. They’ve given us the runaround, I’ve issued statements on that, took us many weeks to actually get anything out of the Ministry of Local Government and SCC.

“We finally got the letter from SCC and we were told that there shouldn’t be a problem until yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, to our surprise that the permit was rejected on a lame excuse given.”

Mr Anthony said they were concerned and disappointed they could not hold a march today.

“I did state also that there were no charges laid against me as the national secretary for FTUC and the fact that the last interview that police conducted with me was some weeks ago and nothing happened thereafter,” he said.

“We are concerned because of the denial of our rights, already we were complaining about workers’ rights being denied by this Government.

“What we now see is not only workers’ rights, but our fundamental rights as citizens of this country and our constitutional rights are now being denied by this government,” he claimed.

Mr Anthony claimed this was a clear indication that Fiji was a long way from democratic rule.

Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu said the decision and justifications to deny the permit was relayed to Mr Anthony on Thursday and it stands.

“If he wishes to apply for another permit he may do so, and like every other applicant the process of verification and assessment on implications on security will be conducted accordingly,” Mr Tudravu said.

Meanwhile, Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde in a statement issued yesterday morning decided that no charges will be laid against Mr Anthony.

“Following a review of the police docket and the evidence, it is our opinion that the alleged comments do not constitute any offence that would support criminal charges against Mr Anthony and therefore the docket has been returned to police,” Mr Pryde said.

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