Fiji’s Police have denied applications for a solidarity march with Palestine, amidst the ongoing conflict in Gaza between Hamas and Israel, citing concerns about potential communal discord and the need to ensure the safety of all Fijians.
Relaying the decision, Minister for Home Affairs Pio Tikoduadua said it was made after assessing the situation and the potential risks, including tensions within Fiji’s communities, suggesting that the applicants pursue safer alternatives to voice their concerns.
“My primary concern remains the safety and the wellbeing of all of our people and our Fijian community,” Tikoduadua said. “While I understand and respect your rights to voice your concerns and stand in solidarity, it is important that we remain united as a nation while also acknowledging the suffering suffered by those in Israel and Palestine.”
Tikoduadua also noted the concern that granting permission for this march could set a precedent, potentially leading to multiple marches and escalating tensions within the community.
“Granting this march will also be setting a precedent. If we allow this procession, we must in fairness also grant permission to pro-Israeli group who may wish to express their perspectives and their grievances too. This could lead to multiple marches, each with its own set of challenges potentially escalating tensions within our community.”
Tikoduadua added that denying the application “isn’t a stand against [the applicants’] cause, but a plea for safety, unity and understanding and most importantly peace.”
He also shared his personal experiences from peacekeeping duties in Lebanon, where he witnessed the devastating consequences of conflict and war, underscoring the fragility of life.
“Your voices, your concerns and your passions are all valid and I acknowledge it is essential for us to recognise the pain and suffering of all individuals involved in any conflict, including the ongoing strife in Israel and Palestine. In any war no matter how justified your cause may be, it is always the innocent who suffer and pay the price.
“We can try alternative means to voice our concerns, means that don’t risk the peace and security of our community.”
He echoed his personal and his National Federation party’s position in condemning Hamas and supporting the ceasefire in Gaza, despite Fiji’s stance at the UN.
“I share the same position, and I condemn in the strongest terms the act of aggression by Hamas that initiated the situation that is currently happening in Israel and Palestine today, and reiterate the position of my party. Hamas is a terrorist group, it is not an internationally recognises representative of the Palestinian people, most of whom just want to live their lives in peace and prosperity.”
Fiji was one of the 14 countries that voted against a non-binding UNGA resolution calling for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce” between Israeli forces and Hamas militants in Gaza. It also demands “continuous, sufficient and unhindered” provision of lifesaving supplies and services for civilians trapped inside the enclave. The resolution, proposed by Jordan was adopted by a large majority of Member States, with 120 votes in favour, and 45 abstentions.