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Concern over last-minute ban on women's day march in Fiji

(PFF/IFEX) - The Fiji regime's last-minute ban on a 'Reclaim the Night' march honoring International Women's Day has been condemned by regional media monitoring network the Pacific Freedom Forum, PFF.

The Fiji Women's Crisis Centre (FWCC) holds an annual "Reclaim the Night" march in Fiji's urban city, Suva, to mark International Women's Day on March 8, and had received a permit for the gathering on February 19, 2013. However on the eve of the march, the organisers had their permit revoked because it was felt the event would have security issues.

"PFF condemns the latest measure against free speech and freedom of peaceful assembly in Fiji. The human right to free speech goes hand in hand with association and peaceful assembly and in a country where a host of decrees are gagging freedom of expression and association, the decision to ban the well-established ''Reclaim the night' event says much of the regime stance on the issue," says PFF co chair Titi Gabi of Papua New Guinea.

"The 8th of March is a day for voice, conversation and debate on the critical issues that affect half the world's population. The 'Reclaim the Night' march is one of the outstanding initiatives allowing men and families to mobilise and own the public debates against sexual and all forms of violence in our communities."

Says PFF co-chair Monica Miller of American Samoa: "Insecurity, fear and misinformation are compounded and become a major threat to peace when citizens have their ability to be 'citizens' taken away. We urge the regime to allow all Fiji's people to be able to freely voice their concerns on the things that matter, and remove the range of decrees now limiting their freedoms in that regard".

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