Arrest of Gavoka is a harsh action that interferes with human rights
The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) calls on the Interim Government to immediately facilitate the release of Villiame Gavoka from police custody and to stop the arrest of more people for circulating information about a natural disaster.
“Gavoka’s arrest is a harsh and unwarranted action by the government. The act of circulating emails to people about a prophecy made by your religious group cannot be classified as a crime,” CCF Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Reverend Akuila Yabaki said.
Gavoka is the Chairman of the Fiji Rugby Union and is a former chief executive of the Fiji Visitors Bureau. He was arrested yesterday afternoon for circulating emails to tourism operators and members of the public, which contains a prophecy by a pastor that Fiji will be devastated by an earthquake on 23 June.
“CCF does not believe or support this prophecy. However, from what we have heard, the email is not inciteful and is not urging anyone to commit any violent or dangerous act. The email is simply warning people to take precautions from a natural disaster that may happen. This surely is not a criminal activity by any standards,” Rev Yabaki said.
“Everyone has a right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion, and everyone has a right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. Numerous predictions have been made before by religious leaders about impending natural disasters in the world. Many times, these disasters have not eventuated. However, this is not reason enough to declare such predictions by people as a crime,” Rev Yabaki said.
“The decision to believe these predictions and to take necessary precautions needs to be left to the good judgment of individuals, organisations and experts. As is the case with all predictions, the information should be assessed for reliability, credibility and accuracy and appropriate precautions taken,” Rev Yabaki said.