Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed- Khaiyum says as we celebrate our progress and commemorate the proud legacy of the girmitiyas in Fiji, let us also reaffirm our stand against bigotry, discrimination and divisiveness.
Attorney-General Mr Sayed-Khaiyum made the remarks in Parliament in his ministerial statement on the 139th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship that carried indentured labourers from British India to Fiji.
“So it really is cruel, that on this day meant to honour the dreams and legacy of those proud Fijians, in 1987, SODELPA’s current leader chose to carry out the first military coup in Fiji,” he said. He said it threw this country into the throes of chaos and delivered a devastating blow to the campaign of justice and equality for all Fijians.
“Irrespective of ethnicity, gender, province, on May 14, 1987, Rabuka (the leader of SODELPA) ripped apart the social and political fabric of our nation, triggering the most disastrous political era in Fijian history,” he said. “His actions drove tens of thousands of our people away from our shores – many of our best and brightest – and, under his leadership, that day brought about nearly two decades of institutionalised racial supremacy and indeed ingrained provincialism through the 1990 and 1997 constitutions. Where many of our people were treated as second-class citizens.
“It was not only bad for inter-ethnic injustice or relationships, but within the ethnic groups themselves, in other words obfuscating the injustices of the groups within those ethnic groups as well. Because of that coup, innocent people were taken hostage, beaten, and threatened with their lives.”
He said now Mr Rabuka claimed he sought to “make Fiji free again”.
Later, last night, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum told people who attended the celebrations at Albert Park in Suva to listen to all the stories including the alienation of iTaukei land, Chinese traders coming to Fiji and the Solomon Islanders here.