Asia Pacific Report newsdesk
Police stopped a climate change march in Suva today and forced activists to remove their banners.
They also warned demonstrators against making social media posts about the event.
Priests, church workers and youth had gathered at My Suva Park to march as part of worldwide Day of Climate Action protests against governments failing to act more urgently at the global COP26 conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
Organised by the Columban Society of the Roman Catholic church, the march also coincided with the church’s Season of Creation.
Marchers carried banners calling for reduced carbon emissions and an end to global warming.
The same message was delivered at COP26 by Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.
Police allowed the crowd about 100 to walk to the nearby Pacific Regional Seminary, where an event was held.
However, they refused permission for a public gathering at My Suva Park and forced activists to remove their banners.
Social media criticism of police
Social media postings criticised the police action.
One poster from Auckland on the Pacific Conference of Churches Facebook page asked why the protest was stopped in Fiji, “a democratic country known for its democracy”.
“Every weekend [a] protest takes place here in Auckland by the anti-vaccine people, not in numbers but in thousands. Police are present there but [none] are arrested or told to stop and leave. It is their right and freedom to express and voice out.
“What is the danger in there. Why so much of dictatorship rule. It was a peaceful march. Marches were also staged in Glasgow during the summit, nobody were turned away.
It is [a] way for the people to express their views.”
Another poster said: “Fijian officials need to realise that Fiji will be one of the few countries in the world that will be swallowed up by the ocean due to climate change.
“Fiji needs to do these marches to show the large countries [which] are guilty of polluting our atmosphere that Fijian Lives Matter.”