FIJI REGIME ACCUSED OF ASSAULTING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

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Government fears church brings instability

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 2, 2009) – Fiji’s Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy says the interim regime shouldn’t cancel the Methodist Church conference as it impinges on religious freedoms.

Police and the military issued a statement ordering the church to cancel their annual meeting in August saying some church members were trying to bring instability to the country.

ECREA director Chantelle Khan says it is aware of information about a senior church member urging members to plan protests at the meeting but the church has its own internal affairs to sort out.

"One of the things to recognise is the freedom inherent in the practice of multiculturalism [and] multi religious states is the discussion of the church of its own internal affairs and future direction. So we’re not very happy with this particular decision. We’re also aware the new Methodist leadership needs to be acknowledged and with this change in leadership ECREA is hopeful that the discussions on the future of the church will provide a sense of unity for its members."

Chantelle Khan says clarification is also needed as to whether this year’s choir festival, which coincides with the church meeting, is also cancelled.

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