Monday, February 8, 2010


On the website, Joshua Kucera wrote that at a recent hearing of the U.S. Helsinki Commission marking Kazahkstan’s assumption of the rotating presidency of OSCE, Faleomavaega said Kazakhstan’s recent human rights record should be seen in the context of the country’s decision to give up the nuclear weapons it inherited from the Soviet Union. "While human rights groups continue to point fingers at Kazakhstan, I submit that only Kazakhstan had the moral courage to renounce nuclear weapons altogether for the sake of all mankind." He said Faleomavaega also noted that Kazakhstan public opinion polls showed a high level of support for the United States. "This is a direct result of President Nazarbayev’s leadership and commitment in the service of his people." The website Kazakhstan Today reported in 2006 that at a Washington dinner honoring Nazarbayev, Faleomavaega said "I consider that the President of Kazakhstan deserves to receive the Nobel Prize for his contribution to cause of peace on the Earth."

Kucera quoted Erica Marat, a political analyst who was in attendance, as saying the hearing was a "missed opportunity [in which] Kazakhstan’s leadership was once again given soft treatment for failing to fulfill the promises the government made at the OSCE Madrid conference in 2007. Because there was little attention paid to the more substantive issues Kazakhstan is facing today, the entire hearing was of little value. It just served to help Kazakhstan’s campaign for a better international image."

Noted Kucera: one member of the Helsinki Commission, Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), referred to Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record in his written comments: "Given the distinctive focus of the Helsinki Commission on democracy, human rights and the rule of law, I would be remiss not to note that Kazakhstan is the first country assessed as "not free" by Freedom House to assume the OSCE chairmanship."

Meanwhile, the Epoch Times wrote that “Fiji’s interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, announced that democratic elections are still planned for 2014, but any elected government will follow the military’s plan for Fiji’s future. The leader says his aim to establish a multicultural nation has some support, but his methods of achieving it have been raising concerns amid democratic nations. Bainimarama, who took over the country during a 2006 military coup, plans for the military to oversee any newly elected Fijian government, ensuring continued military authority over a wide range of institutions, such as the Great Council of Chiefs and the Methodist Church. The former naval officer has exhibited few democratic principles so far, while exiling some of his critics and gagging local dissent, including the media.”

Nonetheless, the Times quoted Falomavaega as saying “Bainimarama has made it clear that he intends to draft a constitution that will reflect the country’s unique culture and history. He has also promised to enact electoral reforms that will establish equal suffrage and to hold free, fair, and democratic elections,” which the Times called “a surprising display of support last year. The Times also quoted Amnesty International’s Pacific researcher Apolosi Bose as saying “With Fiji cracking down even harder on its own people, this is not the time for New Zealand and other countries in the region to back down from their strong stance. They must intensify their calls for Fiji to immediately halt arbitrary arrests, intimidation, threats, assaults and detention of critics of the regime.”

In an opinion piece for Fairfax News, Faleomavaega says sanctions have not been helpful. “Canberra and Washington have employed heavy-handed tactics and misguided sanctions that have hurt average Fijians far more than the interim government at which they were targeted,” he wrote. “Foreign policy elites in Australia and New Zealand erroneously view the region with a Eurocentric mentality without having a better sense of appreciation of Fiji’s colonial history.”

It seems this must be Faleomavaega’s “balanced approach” to foreign policy: if you are going to be an apologist for the left wing dictator of Kazahkstan, you also should do the same for the right wing dictator in Fiji.

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