In essence, these people are on ‘country arrest’ but with no explanation of why or for how long. Incredibly, if you are a Fijian who is planning to travel, for F$12 (roughly US$8), you can check to see if your name is on the no-fly list. Some activists check this list each time they travel, but others do not want to even identify themselves for fear of self-incrimination.
Fiji’s Perilous Economy Post-2006 Coup
The usually crowded hallway of our ocean-view hotel was empty; listless waiters waited for customers that never come. People ask us, ‘do you feel safe here in Fiji?" We reply truthfully, "of course." Everywhere we go we are greeted with the enthusiastic Fijian welcome: Bula! Strangers introduced themselves on each of the four islands that we had time to visit (out of more than 300 which compose the Fiji Islands).
People ask about our safety because since Fiji’s coup in December, both the Australian and New Zealand governments have discouraged their citizens from traveling to Fiji. In reality, it is perfectly safe for travelers to move around Fiji’s many tourist locations, but these government announcements are meant to put international political pressure on Fiji’s ‘interim’ military government to restore democratic institutions. While Commodore Bainimarama has not backed down, tourism numbers have declined significantly, and Fiji’s largest money-making industry (surpassing sugar exports as of 2004) is struggling to bring in the foreign currency.
But it is not only tourist money that Fiji has lost because of the coup. Several international donors have pulled bi-lateral support to the government (including Australia and New Zealand), and Fiji has been temporarily suspended from the Commonwealth, entailing a damaging blow to preferential trade relations. New Zealand will now only channel their funds through non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and they have cut off public sector training initiatives (8).