The Director of Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, Ashwin Raj says fake allegations created on an online page of Raj raping former government public relations adviser, Graham Davis shows that Fiji has a very fragile freedom of expression landscape.
Raj says we need to reflect on this incident in the larger context as today is also the International Day for Democracy.
He says freedom of speech, expression and publication is an integral part of democracy to be able to debate ideas fearlessly but also as you do so, you must be able to debate those ideas without denigrating another human being and robbing them of their sense of dignity.
Raj says this is something many people in Fiji are still struggling with.
Ashwin Raj says the irony in all of this is that whoever concocted the story about him and Davis was very technologically savvy but is not very politically astute.
Raj says this would result in more people reading Davis’ articles.
Raj says in this kind of political climate, this kind of misinformation, defamation, criminal intimidation, unfettered discriminatory attacks based on race, religion and sexual orientation flourishes freely.
He says many people still have not learned to exercise reason to debate ideas with ideas.
Raj says when anyone begins to lose a debate, they quickly go on to personal attacks and debasement.
Raj says he is not troubled by all of the fake allegations against him because he is interested in ideas and the future of our democracy as it is shaped by our ideas.
He says until and unless we learn to debate ideas with ideas, we will not grow.
Raj also says you see personal attacks all the time on the social media which is an unregulated space, you see people resorting to racial stereotyping in parliament and people resorting to race, religion and sexual orientation in casual conversations.
He says the sad thing is that people get away with it in the institution of parliament.
Meanwhile, Graham Davis says on a post that a fake blog site called Grubshit has been established and a fake Facebook page, Grubsheit, is peddling the same material, which suggests that they are the creation of the same person or people.
He says these people have stolen his identity and purported to be him, with photographs taken from the real thing.
Davis says among the first postings on both outlets is a scurrilous piece alleging that Raj raped Davis.
Davis says the allegation is false, a lie, and he has already expressed his regret that Ashwin Raj has been tainted by this vicious smear.
[National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad (left), Graham Davis (middle) and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (right)]
National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad says an old friend of the government Graham Davis has said that the FijiFirst caucus is divided and they don't even talk to each other while the Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says he is not going to comment on Davis’ credibility and integrity.
While contributing to SODELPA MP Viliame Gavoka’s motion to convene a National Economic Summit to determine the way forward for the economy, Prasad says the government can never work with the opposition because they as a party don't even talk to each other.
He says Davis even said that they are ethically divided, which is shameful.
Sayed-Khaiyum says when somebody starts quoting some disgruntled ex-employee of some other organisation and using that as a political platform, that person has become very desperate.
Prasad also says the opposition had offered to work with the government during the COVID-19 Response Budget and he himself attended a few economic summits organised by the then interim government before 2014.
Responding to the NFP Leader, Sayed-Khaiyum says they had several budget consultations across the country.
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