The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly condemns the violent threats against staff at the Fiji Daily Post which forced the newspaper to temporarily shut down this afternoon.
According to IFJ sources in Fiji, the newspaper’s head office in Suva was temporarily closed down at 3:30pm local time today out of fear for the lives of their workers, after the newspaper received a threatening phone call following military takeovers of several police stations around the capital.
An increase in threats against the Fiji Daily Post have accompanied talks of a military coup, with military commander Frank Bainimarama reportedly criticising the newspaper on radio broadcasts, and last month the staff were warned they would be “the first people shot” in the event of an army coup.
“This is an appalling development, and the IFJ strongly deplores any sort of threats or intimidation intended to scare the media and journalists into submission in the lead up to a proposed military coup in Fiji,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.
“The closure of the Fiji Daily Post, albeit temporarily, is a terribly worrying sign of things to come and we demand the Fijian military leaders respect the rights of the media, and allow the Fiji Daily Post to reopen without any fears for their safety,” Warren said.
The Fiji Daily Post is reportedly owned by the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) party, led by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, and has published editorials backing the legitimacy of the government.
According to online news reports, army officers have made death threats against staff and the offices of the Fiji Daily Post have received bomb threats, while only last week Fiji’s military commander named the publisher of the newspaper, forcing him into hiding.
“The military must understand that threats such as this do not go unnoticed and the IFJ will continue to closely monitor developments in Fiji,” Warren said.
“This is a dreadfully disturbing situation, and the IFJ sends its full support to the staff of the Fiji Daily Post and all journalists in Fiji, and warn those who try to harm or threaten the media during these tense times, that the world is watching,” the IFJ president said.
For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries