15 Mar 2007

Web forum dropped in Fiji after offensive comments

4:03 pm on 15 March 2007

A media organisation in Fiji has pulled a chat room off the Fijivillage.com website which slammed key figures in the military-backed regime.

Vijay Narayan, the news director of Communications Fiji Limited and the managing director, William Parkinson, were called in by the military yesterday and later spoken to by police officers from the new Anti-Corruption unit over comments posted on the site.

It's believed the site contained foul language and derogatory remarks about the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, the military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama and the Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry.

There were calls for Ratu Josefa Iloilo to retire and some of the comments were deemed to breach the penal code relating to the publication of offensive language.

By mid-afternoon the link from the homepage to the forum called FijiVillageTalk had been removed and by the evening the entire forum had been shut down.

Mr Parkinson says the site was removed because it was impossible to monitor it.

"We are in very sensitive times and this isn't a democracy and we don't have that level of debate going on within the community. That's a fact and that's what we have to live with."

The military's spokesman, Major Neumi Leweni, declined to discuss the matter.