Sunday, June 29, 14
This is a personal statement by the writer. It does not reflect the views of the USP.
The University of the South Pacific has issued an ultimatum to Patrick Craddock of the USP Journalism program to sign a statement that would effectively silence him from talking to the media.
Craddock alleges that Dr. Williams is frightened of upsetting the military government of Prime Minister Bainimarama. He quotes Dr. Williams saying during their only meeting
“All of us understand that we don’t live in a normal democratic government situation.”
“…whatever we put out in the news media we are very careful..”
Craddock says Dr. Williams told him during their meeting that the University of the South Pacific is a government institution and does not operate in a democracy.
Craddock alleges the USP letter is intended to intimidate him by suggesting that his actions may put the work permits of new staff at risk. The letter also asks him to refrain from making any adverse comments about the USP even after his contract ends.
The letter implies that he has behaved in a manner “prejudicial to the peace, good order, good government or morale” in Fiji by publicly criticising the military for justifying torture of dissenters and by criticising recent unfair treatment of journalists. Craddock believes his statements, made with a belief in academic freedom, are in the public interest.
The USP letter, which is released with this media statement, says there was a complaint from outside the USP. Who complained – was it the army, the police, MIDA, the Attorney General? Craddock asked and was not told. The letter does not say if the complaint was upheld or even detail any due process to be followed.
In the informal recorded discussion Heather Stadel of USP Human Resources says that the complaint came from inside the USP. She refuses to name the complainant.
The letter implies that there were inaccuracies in the Media Release. There were none. The army has admitted that they have tortured and beaten people. Samisoni Pareti, a Fijian journalist was denied accreditation to the recent Pacific Islands Development Forum. After the original media release was published he received an apology from the Ministry of Information. Another journalist, Netani Rika says he was visited by special police.
Mr. Craddock also alleges he was personally insulted by a fellow USP academic Aswhin Raj during an interview with Radio New Zealand International. Ashwin Raj also commented on both USP journalism academics on the blog “Fiji Leaks”.
Raj signed his name and position on the blog as being on the staff of the USP. Craddock has lodged a formal complaint against Aswhin Raj with the USP Human Resources Manager, Heather Stadel.
Sunday, June 29, 14