Movement for Democracy in Fiji

331 City Road London EC1V 1LJ
Office Tel: +44 (0) 20 7713 7377 Fax: +44 (0) 20 7713 7378
Home Tel: +44 (0) 1474 872 908
President: Raymond Croxon QC
Secretary/Treasurer: K Bhagwandeen
Chairman: Dr Y Roshan
Administrative Board Member of the European Institute for Asian Study
(Think Tank of European Members of Parliament): Mr Surur Hoda
Human Rights Co-ordinator: Mrs A Bhagwandeen
Spearheading Legal Issues on Fiji: Mr Victor Lal (Oxford University) & Mr Norman Patterson
Barrister Information: Mr Vimal Madhavan

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A committee member of the London-based Movement for Democracy in Fiji,
Victor Lal, has strongly defended his role in leading the global fight for
the restoration of democracy and human rights in Fiji. He was responding to
an attack in the Daily Post from a government spokesman who accused Mr Lal
and other members of the Movement for pushing the agenda of the Fiji Labour

"The President of the Movement, Mr Raymond Croxon QC, is an English
barrister and a human rights activist, who has no connections with Fiji
or the Fiji Labour Party," Mr Lal said yesterday from Oxford University
where he has been based since 1984. He said he "only joined the Movement to
help give back what Sitiveni Rabuka and his racist thugs stole in 1987, and
now George Speight and the Interim government, have illegally stolen from
the peoples of Fiji - a multi-racial government representing all the peoples
of Fiji".

''It is ridiculous for the Interim Government to accuse me and my
colleagues in the Movement of hindering the process of reconciliation in
Fiji. Last year, shortly before the general elections, I called through the
columns of this newspaper, for the prosecution of Sitiveni Rabuka, Ratu
Inoke Kubuabola, Apisai Tora, and others for their role in overthrowing a
democratically elected FLP-NFP government of Dr Timoci Bavadra. I
believed, and still do, that if Fiji was to achieve a genuine and lasting
peace, it had to eradicate "the racist farmers who had planted the seeds of
discord, for if not, these very 'racist farmers' would re-emerge to harvest
the fruits of their racial seeds in the guise of Fijian nationalism''. I
also called for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission
so that never again the people of Fiji should go through the racial and
economic traumas of 1987,'' Mr Lal said. "It is sickening to see and hear
the Minister for Information (Misinformation), Ratu Inoke Kubuabola,
projecting himself as the saviour of all the races in Fiji when, in fact, it
was he who, along with Rabuka and the late Rev Tomasi Raikivi, had planned
the 1987 coups in the Fiji Bible Society building in Suva. He went on to
lead the Taukei Movement, one of the darkest days in Fiji's 20th century
history as regards the rule of law and human rights (until Speight and his
racist thugs out did them recently). When Kubuabola became the Leader of the
Opposition for the STV, a party which was totally rejected at the polls by
the ethnic Fijian people, he immediately began the process of destabilising
the Chaudhry government, instead of preaching peace and reconciliation in
Fiji," Mr Lal said.

"As Minister for Information, he should inform us through the news media
of his role in the 1987 coups, and fearlessly face the brunt of the law for
his treasonable actions, and then only the world and the peoples of Fiji
can trust him. I still believe, and am exploring legal ways and means, based
on the Chilean dictator August Pinochet's stripping of immunity, to bring
the perpetrators and conspirators of the 1987 coups to trial in Fiji or
abroad. I firmly believe that then only can Fiji start a new page of good
race relations in the 21st century."

"My role in the Movement for Democracy is purely legal. My columns in the Daily Post are based on my years of research and writing on Fiji politics and not from opportunism and privilege as demonstrated by the
members of the Interim government who could not accept the diminution of
their economic status or political power. As long as the likes of Ratu Inoke
Kubuabola and that political chameleon of Fiji politics - Apisai Tora - a
man who has been a member of nearly all the political parties in Fiji - go
unpunished, no Indian or Fijian worth his human dignity would want to be a
part of a process of reconciliation in Fiji. We need justice and not empty
rhetoric. The former coup leader Rabuka should be prosecuted under the
Public Order Amendment Act, along with Speight and others, for making racist
remarks recently, and suggesting that Fiji needs the old racist and
apartheid South Africa as a model for solving the current crisis.."

My father's vision of multi-racialism

"I am pursuing the multi-racial agenda of my late father, an upright and righteous Indian van driver and building carpenter, who spent all his life in Korovou, Tailevu, transporting the agricultural produce of honest
and hard working Fijian villagers from various villages, including those
from Sepight's Naivicula village, so they could go and sell their produce
in the Korovou market, and earn a decent living." "My father had a
multi-racial vision of Fiji when he joined the Alliance Party, and later
became the first Indian president of the Tailevu North Alliance District
Council, with one Master Solomone from Speight's Naivicula village as his
deputy. I believe in a multi-racial Fiji of my late father and not that of
Kubuabola's racist Fiji. It is sad and heartbreaking that I cannot go back
to Speight's Naivicula village where I spent endless hours in the 1970s with
the villagers playing outside while my father and other Alliance leaders
discussed multi-racial politics. It is painful that my family, beaten and
robbed by Speight's hoodlums in Tailevu during the
insurrection, and most recently, can't venture to visit our
ancestors graveyards, which are just a stones throw from Naivicula village.
It is painful that the Fijians of Tailevu, who used to once bow to my father
as an 'honorary chief' and called my grandfathers -Tui Levu and Tui Lailai-
are now out in Tailevu trying to chop off the heads of our families in the
name of Fijian nationalism and racial bigotry'.

"It is painful to see that Jo Nata, the chief media spokesman of Speight, who went to school with me at
Ratu Kadavulevu School, and later worked with me on the old Fiji Sun
newspaper, inciting malicious racist poison against the Indians and my
family." "I am not pursuing any agenda but am fighting and will go on
relentlessly to give back to the people the real Fiji - the Fiji of my
childhood and the Fiji of my dreams. As Pope John Paul 11 once said:
'Fiji-The Way The World Should Be'. I would like to remind Kubuabola and
other racist Fijians that if Fiji belongs to them per see, it belongs to me
and other Indians per value. We know no other home but Fiji. I am as much a
true and patriotic son of Tailevu and Fiji as that self-proclaimed "vulagi"
from Australia

George Speight, who set the scene for the Interim government to step in and
do the mopping up operation." Mr Lal has disclosed that following overtures
from his Fijian colleagues, the inner circle of the Fijian hierarchy - the
'RKS Old Boys Network' - he was willing to help the Interim government to build a
multi-racial society.

"However, when I heard the racial remarks of Laisenia
Qarase and others, I refused to co-operate, and will continue to refuse to
accept a Fiji based on race and inequality. I support the blueprint for
Fijian advancement but we must have a past balance-sheet. We need to know
how much was spent in all these affirmative projects in the past, and what
were the benefits and failures etc."

"We cannot continue to sink into a bottomless pit the taxpayers money - most of it derived from hardworking and
honest non-Fijians. There are perils of affirmative action. The unelected
Interim government cannot impose on the Indians and liberal Fijians taxation
without representation. The best way forward is a government of national
unity, and a demonstration to those in the shadow of Speight and others that
you can run but you cannot hide.

The road to reconciliation has to begin with the prosecution of those
involved in the 1987 coups - the seeds of our present problems.
Reconciliation is a two way street. One racially dominant group cannot
impose its will and expect the other group to silently lay the red carpet to
economic recovery and reconciliation. "

"If the Interim government is serious about reconciliation, it should help the Indian refugees in Lautoka;
it should compensate the evicted farmers; it should correct the racial
imbalance in the army; it should make the presidential and vice-presidential
offices rotational - open to all races: it should evict those who were party
to the 1987 and 1999 coups from the government, and above all, it should
promise to us that never again it will vow to impose a racist Constitution
on the peoples of Fiji."

"As long as the Interim government vows to implement its racist vision of Fiji, I will remain an international thorn in
its side. 'Stone walls do not a prison make; Nor Iron bars a Cage'. My
history is from RKS, past Speight's Naivicula village, through Korovou Town,
to the old Fiji Sun in Suva, to Oxford University in England via a study
scholarship from Reuters, the international news agency. I did not jump a
racial or nationalist bandwagon to get political power and fortune at the
expense of our countrymen. I earned my international status and I must have
the right to enjoy its privileges. But robbers and looters of the nation
must return the political loot to their respective owners - the Fijian,
Indian, General Elector and other citizens who overwhelming voted for the
Peoples Coalition Government."

Mr Lal thought that it was amusing that the Interim Government found it necessary to single him and others for attack.

"I did not realise that I was the international voice and conscience of the
silent majority in Fiji. Perhaps, now, my father can sleep in peace. It is
true that 'dead man tell no tales' but I will continue to tell the tales of
the silent majority until my father's vision of a multi-racial Fiji is
eventually realised. We are the true sons of Tailevu and Fiji around the
world and not George Speight and his thugs on Nukulau Island (Fiji's Tropical Alcatraz with
mobile telephones) and those in the current Interim Government.."

Mr Lal said he is not concerned about the Interim Government's portrayal of him in
the press, for 'an opponent of apartheid is an enemy of the state'. He
quoted Albert Einstein, that great Jew who was last year voted by the Time
Magazine as 'The Man of the Century', but was driven out of Germany by the
racist Nazis:" Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from
mediocre minds." He also recalled the words of apartheid's most famous
prisoner, and the first president of a non-racial South Africa, Nelson
Mandela, who once put it, "There is no easy work to freedom".

"The road to a truly multi-racial Fiji has just begun. I will remain part
of that national and international journey with all the peoples of Fiji -
the Rainbow Alliance". Those who do not learn from history, Mr Lal said, end
up repeating history.

"The Lal family have made a distinguished contribution to multi-racialism
in Fiji and I want to keep up that family heritage."


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last revision 09/02/2000