Former Prime Minister and Fiji Labour Party Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry says we must take concrete steps to prevent coups and treasonous acts from ever again wrecking our nation and destroying our national harmony.
Today, on the anniversary of the 2000 coup, Chaudhry as a way forward, he wants the establishment of an independent institution to deal with race relations, where grievances of the various communities could be addressed and looked into so as to create a better understanding between our diverse communities.
“We are a multiracial country. There will always be elements that will seek to upset the equilibrium in the pursuit of their vested interests by playing on the fears and emotions of the vulnerable in our society.”
He said an institute along the lines proposed would go a long way in fostering better understanding, acceptance and tolerance among Fiji’s peoples.
“Last week on the occasion of the Girmit celebrations, during a historic Thanksgiving and Reconciliation Service on 14 May, the President of the Methodist Church, the Reverend Ili Vunisuwai, apologised to the descendants of the Girmityas for the coups executed against them in 1987 and 2000 and the role the church played in these.”
“Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka also apologised, in his personal capacity, for the coups of 1987 and the suffering he caused as a result.”
Accepting the apologies on behalf of the Girmityas, Chaudhry said although the apologies and regrets were a necessary part of the healing process, the matter should not end there.
He has urged the Coalition Government to give this serious thought and to act on it as soon as possible to promote the vision of the “peaceful, united and prosperous Fiji” envisaged at Sunday’s Thanksgiving and Reconciliation Service.
The Labour-led Government of Chaudhry was seized at gunpoint on 19 May, 2000, and members of his Cabinet, including women Ministers, held captive in Parliament for up to 56 days.
They were held at gunpoint, tortured, humiliated, threatened and assaulted while in captivity.
But the entire nation was plunged into months of uncertainty, mayhem and violence as a result of the terrorist activities of the rebels groups.