No sanctions for Fiji, Archbishop pleads

Fiji Archbishop Petero Mataca has appealed to the international community to either lift or postpone sanctions against the Pacific island nation, saying they may serve to strengthen sympathy for last week's military coup.

Writing in today's Fiji Times Archbishop Mataca says that the experiences of sanctions in many parts of the world show that a high percentage of economic and trade or the so called 'smart' sanctions did not really work or achieve their purposes.

"If anything, such sanctions only serve to strengthen the resolve of the people concerned to continue with the direction they have taken, and, in some case, became more militant," Archbishop Mataca wrote.

Citing the example of Iraq, Archbishop Mataca said that sanctions may ironically also deflect the people's sympathy against those who imposed or called for the sanctions.

"In light of these experiences, I call upon the government of New Zealand to lift the sanctions it had already imposed on the people of Fiji," he continued.

Archbishop Mataca also noted that the New Zealand government did not impose sanctions on Thailand in response to "the illegal overthrow of the Thai government" nor on the United States after "the Bush Administration illegally invaded Iraq".

The Suva Archbishop also requested the government of Australia, the European Union and the United Nations "not to suspend current bilateral aid agreements, impose economic and trade sanctions on Fiji or suspend peace-keeping assignments in UN postings around the world".

"Such sanctions will only hurt the ordinary people, especially the poor and the low-income earners," he added.

"In fact, many of them have already lost their jobs and are already in dire need," he said after Australian-owned Emperor Gold Mines closed operations at the Vatukoula Gold Mines throwing 1700 miners out of work.

Archbishop Mataca instead, called upon these countries to continue with their bilateral aid, and economic and trade agreements with Fiji, and to encourage their people to visit Fiji.

He also launched an appeal to Fiji Catholics to donate food and other items to assist those, especially in the hotel industry, who had lost their jobs.

Sanctions not the answer (Fiji Times, 15/12/06)
Mine bosses, chief meet (Fiji Times, 15/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
2006 Fijian coup (Wikipedia)
Archbishop Petero Mataca (Wikipedia)
Suva Archdiocese (Catholic-Hierarchy)
Emperor Gold Mines

Fiji Archbishop calls on Catholics to fast and pray (CathNews, 6/12/06)
Catholic Church condemns coup (CathNews, 29/5/00)

15 Dec 2006