SBS News reports…
“A threat by Fiji’s prime minister to “track down” and jail Fijians living in Australia and elsewhere who support a Christian secessionist movement has been dismissed as a diversionary tactic from domestic problems.
More than 60 people allegedly linked to anti-Muslim separatists have been detained in Fiji, accused of plotting to create a breakaway state on the western part of the main island of Viti Levu.
Their supporters in Australia have vowed to fight on and are raising a legal defence fund.
“I’m not frightened or scared at all,” said Oni Kirwin, who describes herself as attorney-general of the Ra and Nadroga Christian state.
“There is a takeover in Fiji and it is not a good one. We’re concerned by Muslims. Their influence is very, very high.”
Ms Kirwin blames the 2013 secular constitution introduced by prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama, guaranteeing equality for all Fijians.
She points to Muslims holding high office in the Bainimarama government, including attorney-general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
About seven per cent of Fiji’s population is Muslim.
The Fiji-born, Australian-based Ms Kirwin has now reportedly been banned from returning to Fiji.
Some of those detained in Fiji for allegedly plotting to create a breakaway Christian state are also accused of being involved in ‘military-style’ training.
A week-long search by hundreds of Fijian police and soldiers has not found any firearms.
Prime minister Bainimarama on Friday issued a warning to Fijians living overseas who support the Christian state movement.
“If you encourage sedition you are committing a serious offences. If you urge violence in Fiji, you are committing a serious offence. The hand of the law is very long and authorities will not rest until you are brought to justice,” he said.
“People behind this international don’t believe in democracy or listen to the will of the people. They want to impose their will on everyone else.
“They are enemies of the state and enemies of the Fijian people. They are enemies of investment and they are enemies of a modern Fiji. They are enemies of a prosperous Fiji and we are going to track them down and bring them to justice.”
Critics of the Bainimarama government say his response is an attack on freedom of speech.
“I think, as some critics suggest, it’s a diversionary thing from criticism of the government and diversion from the economy,” said professor Brij Lal, Indo-Fijian historian at the Australian National University.
“He (Voreqe Bainimarama) has in his sights people who are critics of the government. He equates criticism of the government as an attack on democracy.”
Mr Lal is also baffled by the separatists intentions.
“You have crazy people all over the world, it’s simply ridiculous. Western Fiji is fully integrated into the economy. This is a nonsensical.”
Supporters of the Christian state have allies in Australia.
They were blessed by the Reverend Fred Nile during a meeting with a group led by Ms Kirwin in the New South Wales upper house of parliament in April.
“I had a request for a deputation to meet me, tell me what was happening in Fiji and they showed me the flags they were adopting,” Mr Nile said.
“It was all news to me. Obviously I’m pleased to be helping promoting the Christian faith.”