A PICTORIAL EVIDENCE THAT SPOKE CLEARLY. DO WE DENY THEM?

By VASITI V RITOVA

Bula Bee and my Facebook Page this week accumulated a universal controversy as to whether showing such graphic exposure in the photos of murdered Fijian soldiers should have seeped onto our computer or laptop screens.

The capture, beating, torture and subsequent murder of some members of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare (CRW) Unit of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) in November 2000 plunged Fiji and its usually peaceful villages, settlements and out into the Pacific Islands into a frenzied polemic.

 

Showing these photos has left Bula Bee and my Facebook Page battered by critics’ complaints this past week. Yet, if I am to assume the role of a Journalist here, why should such exposure be criticised?

 

Yes, we must consider the potentially damaging qualities of these pictures to the families of these murdered men and their extended relatives and many young people who come on Facebook daily. I do not deny that Bula Bee and my Facebook Page have been excessive in the posting and subsequent immense distribution of such footage, and I do not condemn opinions that a more sensitive ‘filtering system’ should have been enforced.

 

Yet I would defend Bula Bee and my Facebook Page on these counts:

 

As a Journalist, I believe that for the greater good of Fiji, our sensitivities should and must be side-lined on this critcally important part of our history. Surely a lot of our people can turn a blind eye to the ruthlessness of military rule which has now effectively sidelined its "political enemies" into perfunctory trials in Fiji.

 

Nor is there reason to suppress many revelations through the years that many people have made some pretty bold in-roads by way of social media and activists to try and create a better Fiji. Indeed, what role do I play?

 

The photos, although undeniably gruesome, pronounce to the world in clear terms a haunted period in Fiji's history, created by those who feel there is inequality and injustice in our system, and began planning to use force todestroy our democratic platforms. There is plenty of room for us to remind ourselves that there exists greed and power hunger in many Fijian men and women and they ought to be reminded that they still lurk amongst our midst!

 

Editorially, Bula Bee and my Facebook Page, Truth for Fiji, and Facebook SharesVasiti Ritova - Her Musings were justified in communicating these dramatic events that stand as a landmark in Fijian history; a strong landmark that we all ought to keep these things under our radar. 

 

There is, of course, no doubt that in the eyes of the once-proud and prestigious Fiji military, those who planned and master-minded the mutiny deserve every punishment in the penal system, and through the media we are experiencing a revenge of some sort. 

 

Confirmation of these murders at the time were not enough, it is the crumbling of our usually wonderful status and commitment to ourselves as a proud people, to our country, to our dear Pacific neighbors and to the world we serve, that has effectively taken us on a different pathway.

 

It is too eerie to hide our action for we know that the future would not be good if we do this to ourselves. Through these mutilated appearances, which reek of some sort of reprisal, we can see an iconic image of power; of greed; of evil; of a hunger for what is not right, and now through Bula Bee and my Facebook Page via Truth for Fiji, the photos have reduced Fiji and all it ever wants to be in the future to be an object of ridicule and victimisation.

 

O for a way, a concept that will make us great once again; to create for us, enable us or simply to push us towards reconciliation and a full restoration of the peace we so pray for daily and every Sunday!

 

Have we victimised ourselves as a country? Even after the military coups of 1987, 1988, the civilian coup of 2000 and the military coup of 2006, many Fiji citizens could not shake the fear of our return to instability.

 

It comes as no surprise that Bula Bee and my Facebook Page have come under criticism and heavy fire on the release of such shocking images, yet surely such exposure was vital in dispelling the many rumours that surrounded these men's torture and deaths.

 

Such pictorial evidences speak clearly; our very existence as a nation were rattled to the core; our independence as a nation was clearly threatened. A lot of our people do not care that our brothers and sisters fled after the 1987 coup, and our human resource needs effectively destroyed in the huge brain drain that immediately followed.

 

People continue to fearfully flee from Fiji today and it's something our leaders need to stop immediately!

 

These pictorial evidences may now cause us to carry on asking our leaders to restore stability, instigate reconstruction and once more aid the greater development of Fiji. We have to. We have to stop denying ourselves our core existence and why we need to be truthful about who and what we are as a people!

 

The pictures must become a means for transitional leaders to feel obligated to cause reconciliation, to create a platform for forgiveness, and also to feel fear that life in Fiji is for everyone and not a selected few!

 

Fiji needs to wake up to the possibility of a new era in its history.

 

TO THOSE CRITICS

 

These photos have just been made public although they have been around for over ten years, and a lot of us journalists have seen them, and all of us have felt the same anger, frustration, guilt that we never published them to show the world what we have done to ourselves as a country, and most of all, as a people.

 

We journalists have reported and broadcast miles and miles of the same stories involving these atrocities through the years and yet we were under a strict censorship not to show the world the truth of what occurred that day. You think we were on an ego trip about publishing those stories/ No! We were simply doing our jobs - to bring the news home, so that our people, the people we write and broadcast for can pay attention and make informed decisions about themselves.

 

These men were murdered and we the media wrote and broadcast stories - but we weren't allowed to publish these photos because the men who did it had a life to live and an institution to answer to - the RFMF and its Commnader and senior officers. No one cared, but I, as a Journalist became a human being too and tried to suppress my anger and tears of love for these families; but I had to do my duty. No one cared about us Journalists but we brought the stories home on this day.

 

Today, it's time to show these photos and it's not something to be proud of but it's a reminder that Fiji is run by people who are capable of doing this sort of things. Don't worry, by this time next month, they will be forgotten because that's what we human beings are like.

 

Today, they have been posted to remind us of the human beings that we are in Fiji, what we have done to ourselves and our country - what greed for power is like, what we have inflicted upon our community. That is very important to this generation because nothing seems important anymore - our future ought to be focussed on healing and reconciliation but it seems no one is lending an ear to the souls that are crying out for these virtues - everyone is doing whatever they want to satisfy their hunger.

 

The best thing to do is to remind ourselves to be as gentle with our own self as we would be with someone else. We should recognize that we would never dream of causing someone else to feel as bad as we are making our own self feel. We can not suffer from guilt and profess to love our self; it is not possible. Overcoming the need to punish ourself is the first step in learning self-love. I don’t think our tendency toward self-inflicted guilt ever goes away entirely.

 

Self-love is a specific choice we make every day. It takes a continual conscious effort. Our ability to love others the right way depends on it. God bless these families and the continuous hurt they undergo all the time while everyone who has kicked, killed, maimed, hurt, etc are free.

 

God bless us, as we heal, as we attempt to forget but do not know how - we must reconcile these simple truths because our very future as a people, as a nation, as a society that professes to be the most friendly in the world, depend on them!

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