The concerned Fijians say they are worried political comments could potentially cause damage in the community
Three concerned Fijians have spoken out against comments allegedly made by National Federation Party MP Parmod Chand.
The comments included anti-Muslim and anti-South Indian sentiments and an accusation against Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.
Hemand Prasad, 49, a labourer, his wife Sunita Devi, 42, and Subhash Chand, a farmer, all of Labasa, told the Fiji Sun they were concerned about the potential damage such comments could cause in the community.
They revealed the details about a campaign meeting held by Mr Chand in Vunivutu, some 45 kilometres out of Labasa Town last month.
Mr Chand did not respond to telephone calls and questions emailed to him yesterday.
NFP leader Biman Prasad had issued a challenge for evidence which showed any NFP member saying that this was a Muslim and South-Indian government.
The three said they were at the meeting which was attended by about 40 people and held late last month as part of Mr Chand’s general election campaign.
The three have given statements on record that Mr Chand, during a campaign meeting in Vunivutu, outside of Labasa, said:
Fiji has taken a lot of money from Iran and Iraq and that Fiji will be taken over by those countries and Fiji will become a Muslim State.
FijiFirst Government is a “Musalman” (Muslim) and “mandraji” (South Indian) party.
That Prime Minister Bainimarama had the keys to the Republic of Fiji Military Forces armoury in 2000 and people should question where George Speight got guns from, implying that Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama backed Speight in the coup of 2000.
And that if FijiFirst is voted in again, there will be another coup and this time the target will be Hindus who voted for PM Bainimarama.
Fiji does not have any foreign loans from Iran or from Iraq nor from any countries in the Middle East. Almost all the foreign Fiji’s loans are from multilateral institutions like the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank and there are some concessional loans from the Chinese Government. The loans from the Chinese Governments are for capital works such as road constructions and were taken when the multilateral institutions did not want to engage with Fiji between 2006 and 2014.
In the lead-up to the events of 2000, Mr Bainimarama who was the Commander of RFMF was out of country. The soldiers from the Counter Revolutionary Warfare (CRW), a unit formed under Sitiveni Rabuka’s leadership, who provided arms and ammunition to rebels and the subsequent attempts for a mutiny are considered one of the darkest days in the history of the RFMF.
The statements by the three:
Mr Prasad recalled attending the meeting after he was informed by his neighbours and some NFP officials later in the afternoon. He went with his wife, Mrs Devi.
He said what was to be a normal campaign meeting, soon turned out to be a rant session by Mr Chand against Fiji’s Muslim community.
“Jiten ke dukaan pe Parmod (Mr Chand) batawe ki FijiFirst karja lis hai Iran ki Iraq se aur bole ki kuch din mein e desh Muslim aur mandraji ke hoe jae aur Hindustani ki paani mei kude ke padh jae. About 30-40 admi raha.
“We were at Jiten’s shop and Over there Parmod said FijiFirst has taken loan from Iraq or Iran and that after some time this country will be owned by Muslims and South Indians and people of Indian orgin (who are not Muslims and South Indians) will have to go jump in the sea,” he said
Mr Prasad said when people spoke out against the comments, Mr Chand allegedly said: “bolis ki tum log nai jano, hum log janta kaha ketna karja hai (you people don’t know, we know where and how much the debt is.”
When questioned whether he got scared after hearing such comments, Mr Prasad said yes, it worried him.
Mr Prasad said he was worried about the future of his children especially when prominent politicians were making such comments.
For Sunita Devi, February 20 was just another day. She was home when people come over to inform her of a National Federation Party campaign meeting. She was informed that NFP leader Biman Prasad would also be joining them.
After finishing her work at home, she accompanied her husband to the meeting. Here she did not see Mr Prasad but the meeting, she said, was held by NFP’s Member of Parliament Parmod Chand and other NFP officials she was not familiar with.
She said: “Parmod bole hai ki coup hoe agar e Government aae. Sach baat hai?”
“Parmod said there will be a coup if this Givernment comes back. Is it true?”
She also said: “Parmod raha waha pe. Bolis ki e desh khali musalman aur mandraji ke rahi…Hindustani log ke paani mei kude ke padhi.”
“Parmod was there. He said that this country will be for Muslims and South Indians and that people of Indian orgin (who are not Muslims and South Indians) will have to go to jump in the sea.”
Mrs Devi said this was very scary. She said she had seen the country torn apart and neighbours turned on each other in 1987. After hearing Mr Chand speak, she said she felt scared for her children and their future in the country.
When questioned if she spoke up, she said she was too stunned at that time to speak out but when she came back she was very disturbed for a few days and discussed the comments allegedly made by Mr Chand with her husband. She believes that the country is progressing well.
Subhash Chand was also at the meeting. He recalls:
“Bole ki Sayed-Khaiyum bahut bhari karja lis hai Iraq aur Iran se aur desh sake Muslim le lewe sab. Bole ki Muslim contractors ek gaddha punch kare aur bahut bhaari paesa lewe.”
“Said that Sayed-Khaiyum (Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum) has taken a lot of loans from Iraq and Iran and this country can be taken over by Muslims. These contractors (Muslim companies which have won tenders for different road works at various feeder roads in Labasa) take thousands of dollars to fix up even one pothole.”
“Aur bataes ki rasta khali one way hai. Bolis ke e Government agar jeeti toh sake ki coup hoe jae aur e desh se sake nikal de.”
“He said that the roads here are one way only. He said if this Government won, there is a possibility of coup and we can be chased out of the country.”
The worried yet brave Fijians said they were willing to speak to Police about this matter.
After the NFP leader was informed of the allegation and the evidence that the Fiji Sun had received he said: “We clearly want irrefutable and conclusive proof of this which actually proves that Hon Chand has made those remarks and not just wild and unsubstantiated claims from your newspaper.”