Why this Website Section on the Fiji Coup?
Like watching a shell game where the so-called winners are left with only the rotten remnants of the spoils, the civilian coup in Fiji continues. From the news accounts you can read at this and other websites, Fiji has been plunged into a downward spiral with little to look forward to once the smoke has cleared. A pariah of world politics, Fiji will have given in to almost every demand that the coup leader, Speight, and his thugs have asked for. As of this writing, they have not released the hostages and there are confusing reports as to whether or not he'll do that even after his demands have been met. The army now controls Fiji as Ratu Mara has stepped down "temporarily" and been whisked off to a boat or "submarine" in the harbor. I can't help but wonder if our US Navy is helping out a little.
The US Embassy is now preparing to evacuate non-essential personnel and is recommending that Americans in Fiji prepare to leave as well. The same for New Zealand and Australia. Nearly all countries have put Fiji on the "do not travel" list. Tourism will grind to a halt as surely as the Fiji sugar crushing mills will NOT crush. Thus the two major industries supporting the Fijian economy will collapse. In addition, the international community is preparing to ban Fiji from international sporting events. Could the Olympic games be next?
The Olympic torch will bypass Fiji, a blow that is more symbolic than any other move made so far by foreign governments. Fiji was very proud of its potential role in the Sydney games. It had hoped to benefit from tourists planning extra stopovers to and from Sydney. Now, other Pacific Islands will benefit from the coup leader's bad judgement. And all the citizens of Fiji will suffer.
As of this writing, I cannot see the end anytime soon. And, honestly, I fear for the safety and emotional well-being of many friends and adopted family there. This website is an attempt to spread the word of the news and thoughts of Fiji's victims, both direct and indirect. Names have been removed or modified if the author has either requested or if revealing their identity might pose a threat to their safety.
I will continue attempting to update this site until the situation in Fiji is resolved. Feel free to offer a link to this site if you wish to share the information on it. The more people who know of this blatant threat to democracy, the more chances there are for Fiji's recovery from international pressure to reinstate freedom there.
Sad to say bad things happen even in Paradise. Around 10:30 am, Friday, May 19th (Fiji time), an armed group of civilians, lead by failed businessman George Speight, stormed into Parliament and took the government and prime minister hostage at gunpoint. As of this writing many of the ministers have been released after being coerced to sign letters of resignation. The PM, Mahendra Chauhdry, an ethnic Indian, is still being held and is said to be exhausted from the stress and lack of sleep. Many Fijian ministers are also being held including the President Ratu Mara's daughter, Adi Koila, and the coup leader's father, Sam Speight. The president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara has declared a state of emergency (the Fiji equivalent to Marshall Law) and claims to have the support of the police and army. Former prime minister and leader of the coups held in May 1987, Major General Sitiveni Rabuka, has been providing some degree of shuttle diplomacy and claims to have had nothing to do with this recent coup attempt. The attempt was held under cover of a major rally in Suva, Fiji's capital, where about 5000 people were taking part in a peaceful protest of the Indian-led government. Once the gunmen were in Parliament, chaos broke out and the commercial business district of Suva was ransacked, looted, and much of it burned.As I watch from the sidelines, feeling somewhat helpless to assist my friends, colleagues, and those I consider "family" in Fiji, I offer this area of my website to post their stories, including some selected news reports direct from Fiji. Some pictures have been swiped, with apologies, from some international news services in order to provide some context for the stories presented here. As I receive more news, I will do my best to update this area so that those who have an interest in Fiji, scholarly, personally or otherwise, can gain some insight from those actually living there.
Mara Jevera Fulmer



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last revision 5/25/00