Fiji's Family Network
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Bula vinaka Ro Vita,
Au vucesa sara ga na sauma na nomu taro. Yalo vinaka sara, tovolea mo dirika mada na nomuni qavokavoka me rawa ni yadra na nomu vakasama. Sa rauta mada na vakamumuri tu ga vaka mataboko!
Bau tovolea mo cakava e dua na ka me bau dua kina na betemu. Na boro graffiti ena bus stop o cakava tiko qori ena sega ni dua na vanua ena tini kina.
The Fijian State has a theology of its own and we should call it "State Theology".. State Theology is simply the theological justification of the status quo with its development models, racism, capitalism, totalitarianism and authoritarianism. It blesses injustice, canonises the will of the powerful military regime and its collaborators and reduces the poor and unarmed to fear, passivity, obedience and apathy.
How does the 'State Theology' do this? It does it by misusing theological concepts and biblical texts for its own form of political purposes and survival. In this document I would like to draw your attention to two key examples of how this is done in Fiji today. The first would be the use of Romans 13: 1-7 to give an absolute and 'divine' authority to the State. The second would be the use of 'Law and Order' to determine and control what the publics or people may be permitted to regard as 'Just and Unjust'. Labeling anyone or institution who rejects State Theology. And finally misuse that is made of the name of God.
2.1 Romans 13: 1-7
The text reads as follows:
1. You must all obey the governing authorities. Since all governments comes from God, the "civil" authorities were appointed by God.
2. And so anyone who resists authority is rebelling against God's decision, and such an act is bound to be punished.
3. Good behavior is not afraid of magistrates, only criminals have anything to fear. If you want to live without being afraid of authority, you must live honestly and authority may even honour you.
4. "The State is there to serve God for your benefit. If you break the law, however, you may well have fear: the bearing of the sword has its significance. The authorities are there to serve God: they carryout God' s revenge by punishing wrongdoers.
5. You must obey, therefore, not only because you are afraid of being punished, but also for conscience sake.
6. This is also the reason why you must pay taxes, since all government officials are God's officers. They serve God by collecting taxes.
7. Pay every Government officials what he has a right to ask - whether it be direct tax or indirect, fear or honour (Rom 13:1-7) Compare with Mathew 22:21.
The misuse of this famous text is not confined to present government in Fiji. Throughout the history of Christianity; totalitarian regimes have tried to legitimise themselves and an attitude of blind obedience and absolute servility towards the State by promises and by quoting this text. " As soon as Fijian Christians, out of loyalty to the gospel of Jesus, offer resistance to a State's totalitarian claim, the representatives of the State or their collaborationist Churches and theological advisers are accustomed to appease the State leaders to appeal to this teaching of Paul, as if Christians are commended to endorse and thus abet all the crimes of a totalitarian State".
Q.....But what then is the meaning of Roman 13: 1-7 and why is the use made of it by 'State Theology' unjustifiable from God's and biblical point ofviews?
'State Theology' assumes that in this text Paul is presenting us with a definitive Christian doctrine about the State, in other words an absolute and universal principle that is equally valid for all times and in all circumstances of power usurpations. The falseness of this assumption has been pointed out by Jesus through numerous Christian martys and scholars.'
What has been overlooked here is one of the most fundamental of all biblical interpretation: "every text must be interpreted in its context". To abstract a text from its context and to interpret it in the abstract is to distort the meaning of God's Words and falsify the truth. Moreover the context here is is not only the chapters and verses that precede and succeed this particular text nor is it even limited to the total context of the Bible. The context includes also the circumstanses in which Paul's statement was made. Paul was writing to a particular Christian community in Rome, a community that had its own particular problems in relation to the Roman State at that time and and in those oppressive Roman Military circumstances. That is part of the context of our text.
Many authors have drawn attention to the fact that in the rest of the Bible God does not demand obedience to oppressive rulers and dictators. Examples can be can be gleaned ranging from Pharoah to Pilate and through into Apostolic times. The Jews and later the Christians did not believe that their imperial overlords, the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Greeks or Romans, had some kind of divine right to rule them and oppress them. These empires were the beasts in the Book o Daniel and the Book of Revelations. God allowed them to rule for a while but he did not approve of the structures they created or what they did. It was not God's will. His will was freedom and liberation of Israel. In Fiji it is the Fijian who are oppressing the Fijian. Rom 13;1-7 cannot be contradicting all this.
But the most revealing of all is the circumstances of the Roman Christians to whom Paul was writing. They were not revolutioneries or law breakers. They were not trying to overthrow the State. Thjey were not calling for a change of government. They were what has been called, 'antinomians' or 'enthusiasts' and their belief was that Christians, and only Christians' were exonerated from obeying any State at all, any government or political authority at all, be cause Jesus alone was their Lord and King.This is of course heretical and Paul is compelled to point out to these Christians that before the second coming of Christ there will always be some kind of State, some kind of secular government and that Christians are not exonerated from subjection to some kind of political authority.
Paul is simply not addressing the issue of a just state or unjust state or the need to change government for another. He is simply establishing the fact that there will be some kind of secular authority and that Christians as such are not exonerated from subjection to secular laws and authorities. "The State is there to serve God for your benefit", says Paul. That is the kind of State he is speaking of. That is the kind of State that must be obeyed. In this text Paul does not tell us us what to do when a State does not serve God and does not work for the benefit of all but has become unjust and oppressive. This is another question.
If we search the Bible for guidance in a situation where the State that is supposed to be "the servant of God" betrays that calling and begins to serve Satan instead, then we can study chapter 13 of the Book of Revelation. Here the Roman State becomes the servant of the dragon (the devil) and takes the appearance of a horrible beast. Its days are numbered because God will not permit his unfaithful servant to reign forever, and will be put to shame in the end.
Consequently those who try to appease dictatorial states with deceitful biblical interpretations and try to find answers to the very different questions and problems of our time in modern Fiji in the text of Romans 13:1-7 are doing a great disservice to Paul and the Church. The use of that 'State Theology' makes of this text tells us more about the political of those who construct this theology than it does about the meaning of God's word in this text. As one biblical scholar puts it: "The primary concern is to justify the interests of the State and the text is pressed into service into what they want to hear without respect for false doctrines or for the context of Paul.
2.2. Law and Order:
The State makes the use of the concept of law and order to maintain the status quo which it depicts as 'normal'. But this law is the unjust and discriminatory laws born out of a military coup and this order is the organised and institutionalised disorder of oppression disguised in the propagandic promises of future properties and developments. Anyone who wishes to change or go against these laws and this order is labeled in the media as criminal and is made to feel that they are lawless, disorderly and an enemy of the State. In other words they are made to feel guilty of sin they did not do.
It is indeed the duty of the State to maintain law and order, but it has no divine mandate to legislate or to maintain any law and order. Something does not become moral and just simply because the State has declared it to be a law and the organisation of a society is not a just and right order simply because it has been instituted by the State. We cannot accept any kind of order. The concern of the Christians is that we should have in our country of Fiji " a just law and a right order."
In the present crisis of the discrimination against Methodists and especially during the duration of the Public Emergency Regulation(PER), State Theology has tried to re-establish the status quo of selective and orderly discrimination, exploitation of cultures and identities and oppression by bombarding and appealing to the consciences of its citizens in the name of Law(police) and order (military). It tries to make those who reject this law and this order feel that they are lawbreakers and ungodly. The State here is not only again ursurping the right of the Church to make judgements about what would be right and just in our circumstances; it is going even further than that and forcing us to change our mindsets and demanding of us, in the name of law and order, an obedience that must be reserved for God alone. The Fijian military State reconises no authority beyond itself and therefore it will not allow anyone or Church institution to question what it has chosen to define as 'law and order'. However, there are thousands of Methodist Christians and silent supporters of the Christian faith in Overseas and Fiji today who have the courage to say with Peter: "We must obey God rather than man" (Acts 5:29).
'State Theology further believes that the government has the God given right to use violence in speech and action to enforce its system of 'law and order'. It bases this on Romans 13:4---"The authorities are there to serve God: they carry out God's revenge by punishing wrongdoers". In this way State security becomes a more important concern than justice, and those who in the name of God work to transform the unjust structures of Fijian society for centuries are branded as ungodly agitators and criminal rebels. The State admonishes church leaders to support it by "preaching the pure gospel" and not to "meddle in politics" , while at the same time it is free to indulge in its own political theories which claims God's approval for its use of violent propagandas in maintaining their stolent authority in their unjust system of 'law and order'.
The State appeals to the consciences of Christians in the name of Law and Order' to accept this use of violence as a God-given duty, in order to re-establish the status quo of oppression. In this way people are sacrificed for the sake of laws, rather than laws for the sake of people, as in the life of Jesus: "The sabbath was made for man (the human person); not man (the human person)for the sabbath"(Mark 2:27).The States efforts to preserve law and order, which should imply the protection of human life,means the very opposite for the majority of the people who rejected them through, namely the suppression of their rights and destruction of their cultural identities and of loss of life.
The God of the State. Or the State has played God. The State in its oppression of the people makes use again and again of the name of God and the Church (Kalou and Lotu). Military Chaplains use it to encourage the Fijian Defence forces, Police Chaplains use it to strengthen police enforcements and othe use it for their public propaganda speeches.
In humble submission to Almighty God who controls the destinies of nation states and the history of peoples; who gathered our forefathers and mothers from many lands and gve them this their own; who has guided them from generation to generation; who has wondrously delivered them from the dangers that has beset them.
This god is an idol. It is as mischievous, sinister and evil as any of the idols that the prophets of Israel had to contend with . Here we have a God who is with the government and gives large portions of selective developments to his chosen people.It is a god of fear and suppression of basic human rights. The right to socialise. the right to free expression, the right to fellowship: "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another---and all the more see the Day approaching.
Fiji's' State Theology can be compared withe the ' Court theology of Israel's Kings, and our false prophets can be compared with the 'Court Prophets of Israel, whom it is said:
They have misled my people by saying: Peace! when there is no peace. Instead of my people rebuilding the wall, these men come and slap on plaster. I mean to shatter the wall you slapped with plaster, to throw it down and lay its foundation bare. It will fall and you will perish under it; and so you will learn that I am Yahweh(Jehovah)' Ezekiel 13:10,14).
Vinaka qai Kalougata jiko Tu Saki e rauti Viti vinaka nai vaqa vakayalo oqori. Qai veiwaseyaka vei ira na lewe ni lotu era vakayagataki tiko ena forces kei ira kece na lewe ni lotu, mera kakua ni veilecayaki ena levu ni vakadewataki cala ni Vola Tabu.
As I've been saying for some time now, some Pastors, for whatever reason, have been either deliberately or inadvertently, misguiding their Congregation.
Either they have misinterpreted the Bible or they have ulterior motives, which might be related to finances ( 10% tithing ) or support of the Regime.
Sadly, without question and with undying loyalty it seems, many foolish, gullible and naive, and some could even argue, jealous, support what they are being asked of their " Pastors !
Not all Congregations, Pastors, Religious Groups and Churches etc. fall into this category.
Conveniently it seems, some Bible Teachings have been ignored :-
Do not suffer fools.
Judge not, lest yee be judged.
Do not covet thou neighbours goods.
Do not bare false witness.
Friday, September 2, 2011
posted by Pacific in the Media at 10:26 AM
Australian unionists and church ministers have staged a protest in the country's capital, calling for the restoration of human rights in Fiji.
Unions ACT spokesman Kim Sattler said the protests coincided with the trial of a Fijian union member who was charged with unlawful assembly. It has been alleged the man was meeting members to discuss a collective agreement.
"They have had their travel documents seized," he said. "So clearly things are actually stepping up."
The council presented a letter to the Fiji High Commission calling for legislative changes to allow trade union activity and to restore workers' rights.
The council has joined the Uniting Church and Australian Fijians in calling for democratic elections in Fiji.
There were similar protests in Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand.
The Uniting Church says Fiji's interim government has banned the Fiji Methodist Church from holding any events other than ordinary Sunday services, after cancelling its annual conference.
National director Reverend Dr Kerry Enright told Pacific Beat church leaders in several countries had spoken out against the actions of the Fiji regime.
"Sri Lanka Methodist Church has discussed this issue and I imagine they will be expressing their concern and writing letters of solidarity," he said.
"The UK Methodist Church has also been quite outspoken and expressed concerns."
Reverend Enright said the World Council of Churches was also following the situation.
It is a pity and a bit pathetic really, that it has taken the Decree to alert those within the Union Leadership in Fiji, to realise that Frank Bainimarama's coup was going to be so destructive to the Fijian Economy and Community.
I would like to see some contrition, or at least some sign of contrition, from Union Leaders who originally were only too happy to get into bed with the Regime in early 2007.
Friday, September 2, 2011
Global support today for the plight of Fiji workers, including trade unionists Felix Anthony, Daniel Urai and Danesh Goundar who've been charged under the PER by the regime.
'Fiji may look like a tropical paradise, but it's anything but that for anyone who opposes the vicious military dictatorship. We want the Fijian regime to wake up tomorrow and know that the world is watching, horrified at their attacks on peaceful and constructive trade unionists.'
"Over the past five years, unions have led the challenge to the military dictatorship which has run Fiji's economy into the ground and made it an international pariah, and seen it suspended from the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum. The EU has also suspended its overseas aid programme and will consider further moves at the end of September.Recently Fiji's military dictatorship has started to crack down on opposition groups like the unions and the Methodist Church, refusing to allow them to hold meetings, getting rid of workers' rights in the public sector and banning strikes in any sector the regime declares 'essential' like sugar farming and tourism.Foreign Office Minister David Lidington condemned the arrest of Daniel Urai in August, saying 'the UK government believes this action will increase further Fiji's isolation from the international community. The right to assemble peacefully is at the heart of a functioning democracy and helps to improve long-term social, political and economic stability.'At 4pm today (Thursday in the UK but Friday and the day of the court case in Fiji), the TUC is meeting with the Charge d'Affaires at the Fijian High Commission. The delegation will hand over a letter from TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber outlining the TUC's concerns at the regime's clampdown on workers' rights which are currently being investigated by the International Labour Organisation, the UN body dealing with the world of work.
posted by Pacific in the Media at 11:29 AM
date: 1 September 2011
embargo: For immediate release
Later today (Thursday) the TUC will take part in a demonstration outside the Fiji High Commission in London as part of a global protest at the arrest and court appearance of one of the country's leading trade union officials.
Fijian union leader Daniel Urai is in court charged with holding an illegal meeting with his members as the military dictatorship that has run Fiji since 2006 steps up its repression of independent voices calling for democracy and reform.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Fiji may look like a tropical paradise, but it's anything but that for anyone who opposes the vicious military dictatorship. We want the Fijian regime to wake up tomorrow and know that the world is watching, horrified at their attacks on peaceful and constructive trade unionists.'
Over the past five years, unions have led the challenge to the military dictatorship which has run Fiji's economy into the ground and made it an international pariah, and seen it suspended from the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum. The EU has also suspended its overseas aid programme and will consider further moves at the end of September.
Recently Fiji's military dictatorship has started to crack down on opposition groups like the unions and the Methodist Church, refusing to allow them to hold meetings, getting rid of workers' rights in the public sector and banning strikes in any sector the regime declares 'essential' like sugar farming and tourism.
Foreign Office Minister David Lidington condemned the arrest of Daniel Urai in August, saying 'the UK government believes this action will increase further Fiji's isolation from the international community. The right to assemble peacefully is at the heart of a functioning democracy and helps to improve long-term social, political and economic stability.'
At 4pm today (Thursday in the UK but Friday and the day of the court case in Fiji), the TUC is meeting with the Charge d'Affaires at the Fijian High Commission. The delegation will hand over a letter from TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber outlining the TUC's concerns at the regime's clampdown on workers' rights which are currently being investigated by the International Labour Organisation, the UN body dealing with the world of work.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- A copy of the letter can be found at http://www.tuc.org.uk/tucfiles/68/Fiji.doc
- For a Foreign Office release about the Fijian arrests see http://ukinfiji.fco.gov.uk/en/news/?view=News&id=643746382
- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
- The TUC will be outside the Fiji High Commission at 4pm today (Thursday 1 September) which is at 34 Hyde Park Gate, London SW7 5DN.
- Register for the TUC's press extranet: a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre-embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit www.tuc.org.uk/pressextranet
- Congress 2011 will be held at the TUC's Congress House in central London this year. The event runs over three days, from Monday 12 to Wednesday 14 September. Free media passes can be obtained by visiting www.tuc.org.uk/the_tuc/tuc-19831-f0.cfm and filling in the online form. All applications for media passes must be received no later than noon on Monday 5 September. Any applications received after then will be processed when possible and may be subject to delay. Late applications will be subject to a £50 administration fee. Wi-fi will be available free of charge throughout the venue.
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: email@example.com
Elly Gibson T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Press release (600 words) issued 1 Sep 2011
Mahendra Patel and Peni Mau
One of Fiji’s tycoon, Mahendra Motibahi Patel, who is also Chairman of Fiji Times has been silently suffering in jail since May 2011 with his co-accused Peni Mau.
The two were shown no mercy by Justice Daniel Gounder who over-ruled the assessors not guilty verdict on the duo by ruling to send them to jail without bail.
His finding? That Patel and Mau’s motive behind the installation of a $75,000 clock at Post Fiji building in Suva was borne out of “greed”.
Patel was Chairman of Post Fiji board while Mau was its Managing Director.
Both worked within the framework of Post Fiji’s regulation board of directors and management guidelines involving the purchase of such item.
But their fate was determined by Gounder based on the key State witness, Adish Naidu, who was Post Fiji’s architect and Project Manager for the GPO building renovation that resulted in the installation of that controversial SEIKO outdoor clock.
Patel happens to be Motibhai’s Chairman, the sole agent of SEIKO watches in Fiji.
According to the regime’s star witness Adish Naidu, he told Mau that in one of his conversation with Patel, he mentioned to him that Patel wanted Motibhai to supply the clock.
But when Adish was cross-examined to quote the day of his conversation with Patel, records show that he said, “I don’t know.”
Patel was recorded to have said in court that he did not have such conversation with Adish Naidu.
Patels counsel pushed the FICAC prosecutor to present any other reliable evidence to support Naidu’s claim but it boiled down to what Naidu alleged against what Patel denied.
Court records also show that Adish Naidu has been communicating directly with SEIKO Japan since 2002, well before he presented his wall facade concept to the Fiji Post board of directors.
It was not until 2003 when he finally presented his rendering and costings of the facade to the board that included the SEIKO wall clock.
Evidence in court also show that it was Adish Naidu who recommended the clock to the board with no paper trail pointing to Patel or Mau as party to Adish Naidu’s arrangement with SEIKO.
A surprising revelation on court records also reveal that Naidu charged his commission on the clock over and above his professional charges on the renovation project proper.
All available evidence cited by our sources show that it was Adish Naidu who benefited the most financially from that Post Fiji project, yet it was his statement that Justice Gounder depended on to arrive at his jail term judgment on Patel and Mau.
Our sources have also established that FICAC had made arrangements with Adish Naidu where they offered Naidu immunity in return for his statement against Patel and Mau.
Sources said Naidu agreed after FICAC blackmailed him that they will investigate and prosecute him and his Yellow Architect business if he refused to be their star witness.
Naidu have since sold his business and is now heading the properties division of the regime controlled University of the South Pacific.
Sources say he’s become an unpopular man after his decision to be used by FICAC against Patel and Mau.
Meanwhile, commentators say that Patel and Mau have been unfairly used by the regime’s legal minders in their obsession to punish white-collar criminals.
They comment that Justice Gounder’s judgment was not based on hard evidence that would have exonerated Patel and Mau, instead he relied on his own personnel assessment and bias against the duo.
September 1, 2011 at 11:05 pm