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However, the most recent travel ban was also placed on a group of Scouts representing Fiji to the annual Jamboree held in New Zealand.
New Zealand Herald's Editorial published in Dec. 22nd 2007, slammed the New Zealand Government's gross inconsistency in applying these travel sanctions.
Editorial: Excluding Fijian kids an affront to common sense
5:00AM Saturday December 22, 2007
Let the children come.
The group of 10 Fijian Scouts and Guides being kept from coming to New Zealand because of someone's interpretation of the sanctions applied by this country against the military regime must be allowed to attend their jamboree.
This cannot, surely, have been a Government decision, nor even a conscious one taken by senior officials. No doubt the Fijian Scouting movement did receive an indication that applications for their charges to visit here would be problematic. How formal and how definitive was that hint?
The detail does not matter. The fact that any issue has arisen over these children attending an international jamboree breaks the Government's newly minted "Law of Common Sense".
Around 50 Fijian children will be allowed here, so presumably the 10 outcasts have relatives in the military. To use children as young as 10 to score diplomatic points against their parents is beneath all standards to which New Zealand should aspire.The sanctions against members of the regime and their families have been inconsistently applied in any case.
Bizarrely, a serving Education Minister from the Bainimarama Government has visited this country for a conference, with the blessing of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its minister, Winston Peters. In that case the multilateral benefits on education throughout the Pacific were held to be more important than the bilateral relationship.
A Government minister can come, but his colleagues' kids cannot? Keeping 10 children from an international camp in Christchurch - especially Scouts and Guides seeking to become, in the words of their Scouting leader, "good citizens of the planet" - is silly, not serious. It demeans the sanctions and lessens New Zealand in the eyes of our wider Pacific neighbours.
Stuff Magazine published the slanted perspective by Dominion Post's foreign correspondent, Micheal Field. The excerpt:
Bainimarama supporter allowed into NZ
By MICHAEL FIELD - The Dominion Post | Friday, 28 December 2007
A key figure in Fiji's coup regime is in New Zealand tending his sick wife, just a week after 10 Scouts were excluded on the grounds of their relationship to the military. The military-appointed head of the Prime Minister's Office, Pramesh Chand, is in Auckland, according to Fiji media, on compassionate and humanitarian grounds after his wife became ill.
Mr Chand, the former South Pacific trade commissioner based in Auckland, assumed his key role just days after military commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama overthrew the elected government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase in December 2006.
An Indo-Fijian, Mr Chand has been a strong and outspoken supporter of Commodore Bainimarama, and as recently as last week was condemning New Zealand for its sanctions. News of Mr Chand's entry represents a significant departure from the rules, as his role has been as a key aide to the military, and symbolic of the Indo-Fijian support for the coup.
[Chand] told the Fiji Times he was granted a visa on compassionate and humanitarian grounds and was happy the New Zealand Government was understanding of his situation. Mr Chand said his case was a genuine one as he had to be with his wife, who was taken to hospital as an emergency case. "She was taken in, but was not admitted, and she is now recuperating at home."
[Chand] would not divulge his wife's medical condition, but said she was recovering well. Mr Chand is due to return to Fiji tomorrow. Yesterday, the Fiji Times, one of the strongest critics of the military regime, attacked New Zealand over its "flip-flop" policy, saying it had prevented Scouts' entry, yet had allowed entry to a military-appointed cabinet minister.
"New Zealand must decide once and for all whether her borders are open or closed to the interim regime."
Field's article trivializes the inconsistency factor and also introduces Pramesh Chand as an Indo-Fijian, as if that fact was central to the storyline. Furthermore, Field fallaciously adds that Chand is a symbol of Indo-Fijian support for the 2006 coup. Field's conclusion has fallen victim to the dangerous logical trap known as "Post hoc ergo propter hoc" or coincidental correlation and further erodes his integrity as an objective writer.
The excerpt of Fiji Times Editorial of Thursday Dec. 27th 2007:
Ban all or nothing
Fiji Times Thursday, December 27, 2007
NEW Zealand's travel ban on people linked to the events of December 2006 is a joke. Last week, nine scouts mere teenagers were told not to bother applying for a visa to go to New Zealand to represent the country at a jamboree. These young people were forced to bear the brunt of our neighbour's anger over their parents' involvement in the overthrow of a legally-elected government.
This newspaper does not condone the events of 2006 nor does it support the rape of democratic processes which are designed to serve every citizen of this country. At the same time, we will not be silent over the treatment of innocent children. We know of their plight merely because it is a high-profile case and involves an international event.
There must be many children and families who have faced similar censure in the 12 months since December 2006. They are unlikely to come forward because of the shame associated with the travel ban.New Zealand's diplomatic mission here will not say how many of Fiji's citizens have been refused entry to that country on the basis of their relationship to members of the military or the interim regime.
When the smart sanctions were introduced after the military overthrew Laisenia Qarase's government, the system was seen as a tool with which to hit back at soldiers and those who intended to join the regime. Since the sanctions were introduced, New Zealand has banned a group of scouts and a soccer player. The soccer player was not related to a soldier. He was the fiance of the daughter of a soldier.
At the same time, New Zealand has flung wide her doors to a minister in the interim Government. The excuse? The meeting he attended was a regional event and would benefit and develop the education system here.These are fine sentiments. But would not the same argument work in the case of the scouts?
By mixing with their peers, would they not be enriched by the experience? Would the experience not help mould them into better individuals. Now we find out that the permanent secretary in the Prime Minister's Office, Parmesh Chand, has been allowed into New Zealand. The excuse? Medical reasons.
Again, a fine sentiment, but why Mr Chand and his family and not the boy scouts or the national team goalkeeper?
New Zealand cannot continue to play flip-flop politics with Fiji and other Pacific states. If it wants to ban people involved in the events of 2006 and the interim administration, go ahead. But there can be no grey areas in the ban. It must be all or nothing. If New Zealand decides to choose who is or is not banned on a case by case basis, the ban is an exercise in hypocrisy.New Zealand must decide once and for all whether her borders are open or closed to the interim regime.