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Ratu Tevita Mara: Rally for Democracy in Fiji, Auckland

Speech by Ratu Tevita Mara

Rally for Democracy in Fiji
Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, 23 July, 2011

Fellow Fiji citizens

Members and Friends of the Movement for Democracy in Fiji

Supporters of Freedom, Liberty and the Rule of Law.


Ni sa bula. Namaste. Noa’ia and Greetings!

I would like to thank the Fiji Movement for Democracy in Fiji (FDFM) and President Rasiga for inviting me to speak at this Democracy Rally.

I would also like to endorse the many reflections cast in the presentations by SDL representative Rajesh Singh and warmly welcome the distinguished message from FLP Leader and former Prime Minister, Mr Mahendra Chaudhry.

The State of the Nation submission by Mr Shailendra Raju captured a vivid image of the tragic situation in Fiji today. Thank you Shailendra.

May I also say how energized I felt listening to the statements by the speakers tonight and Mr Peter Conway, the Secretary of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions. Vinaka vakalevu Peter.


What a great pleasure it is for me to be here today in democratic New Zealand.

New Zealand has been and is a great friend of Fiji. When natural disasters and tragedy visit Fiji, New Zealand always reaches out a hand to help us. I sincerely hope it will also lend a hand to our campaign to restore democracy in Fiji.


The theme of my presentation to you today is: TOGETHER we aspire, TOGETHER we shall achieve.

During the British colonial era, Fiji was transformed from a uniracial to a multiracial colony.

A former distinguished Fijian Leader, Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, described Fiji as a
Three-Legged Stool. The seat was Fiji and the three legs that held the seat high, strong and stable were the Fijians, the Indians and the General Voters.

When Fiji became an Independent nation on October Tenth, 1970, its first Prime Minister was my father, the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, may he rest in peace.

In one of his celebrated speeches, on the occasion of the Hindu Festival of Diwali, he declared,

“...where there are different races and different cultures living together in a country, the realistic course, and the wise course, is to recognise these differences and that each has its own contribution to make. What we wanted is...all the wealth of diversity, with each culture retaining its own individuality but all blending enrich the whole.”

I wholly and total endorse my late father’s vision and my motto is: TOGETHER we aspire, TOGETHER we shall achieve.

I have gone at great length to submit this historical perspective in order to tell you that the 2006 military coup in Fiji and the repression and ruthlessness that have taken place in subsequent years, have been meted out to Fijians, Indians and General Voters alike.

Consequently, it behoves all good citizens of Fiji, irrespective of race, who believe in the rule of law, liberty, human rights and economic progress and a better life for all, to unite, and our friends in the region, to collaborate, to cooperate, to work in solidarity with us to restore democracy in our beloved country.

May I invite your attention to a pertinent statement in the American Declaration of Independence, which asserts “whenever any form of government becomes is the right of the people to abolish it.”


I don’t know how many of you would recall, but it was not too long ago that the official tourist slogan for Fiji was “Fiji - the way the world should be.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I feel so sad and disillusioned to tell you that Fiji is now the way the world should NOT be.

Permit me and bear with me as I seek to enlighten you on the way Fiji is today.

As before, let me start at the beginning:

The tranquillity of Fiji was shattered by a Military coup led by FMF Commander Voreqe Bainimarama in December 2006

The elected SDL Government was removed at gunpoint.

Fiji has been torn apart since by an illegal regime headed by Bainimarama in partnership with his illegal Attorney-General Aiyaz Khaiyum.


The Constitution is the supreme law of a country. It guarantees and protects the many fundamental rights and freedoms of every citizen, irrespective of race, colour, gender or religion.

Sadly and regrettably, Fiji's Constitution has been illegally abrogated, abolished, removed!

Following the December 2006 coup event, ousted SDL Party Leader Qarase challenged the legality of the coup and the military regime that subsequently assumed power.

The Fiji Court of Appeal, with a panel of eminent Judges, ruled in 2009 that the military coup was illegal, the military regime that took over the governance of the country was illegal and all acts by it are illegal. That decision still stands. Hence my use of the term illegal regime.

The ruling body is NOT a Government since it was NOT elected by the people of Fiji. It is a regime or a military junta like the military dictatorship in Burma.

The Leader of the illegal regime, and his illegal Attorney-General Aiyaz Khaiyum, refused to accept the Fiji Court of Appeal ruling. So in 2009, they illegally abolished the 1997 Fiji Constitution

The pair then proceeded to implement their own personal brand of laws by Legal Decrees, laws dreamed up by the illegal Attorney-General with the main purpose of strengthening the hold and power of the illegal regime over the people.

In the process of all that I have mentioned, the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the citizens of Fiji, guaranteed and protected under the 1997 Constitution, have been taken away from them or breached

A fundamental right of every citizen is the right of free speech, the right to dissent.

That right no longer exists. Citizens who speak out against the ruling regime’s excesses and abuse of office are arrested by the Military, not by the Police, and taken to Military Headquarters, where they are beaten, kicked and tortured. And not only men, but women as well. And not only Fijians but Indians and General Voters as well. Two persons died from the beatings. There were no official post mortems, there were no Coroner’s Inquest. The Police never investigated the incidents. The Commissioner of Police is a Senior Military Officer.

The fundamental right of freedom of association is what the illegal regime says it is. For example, recently a meeting of the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement was stopped, shut down and the Executive Director taken in for questioning.

And last week, an application by the Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions to march and rally was denied by the illegal regime.

And now the illegal regime is drafting a Decree that will impose restrictions on the leadership of Trade Unions. It will allow the illegal regime to control trade unions, workers and wages.

Freedom of the press no longer exists in Fiji as it does here in New Zealand. The news media keep citizens up-to-date with what is going on in the country, is a public ‘watchdog’ and holds the Government and Public Officials to transparency and accountability.

In Fiji, the illegal regime published a Media Decree under which Television, Radio and the Newspapers are muzzled. And what is more, all news must be censored by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Information, a mercenary Australian, before it can be broadcast or published. As a result, citizens in Fiji have little idea of what is taking place and the Governments and people of Forum countries are also in the dark. That is deliberate.

The fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens were further raped by another illegal Decree, the Public Emergency Regulations. The PER, as it is called, gives the illegal regime the right to do anything it wants to do. Freedom of movement suffers. Freedom of assembly suffers. Also under the PER, a person can be picked up without due process, without a warrant, and not by the Police but by the Military and held without bail for seven days.

Most of you should know that the illegal regime is also militarizing the Public Service and Public Boards, Commissions and Committees with the appointments of senior military officers. The idea is to exercise total military control over the entire public sector. The end result will be more tyranny, mismanagement, fraud and corruption.

And I suppose most of you would have heard that the illegal regime has granted permission for a Munitions Factory to be set up in Fiji. The result will be the spread of guns in the country and in the South Pacific region with serious consequences.

Fiji has been stripped of democracy.

As you all know, general elections in which the people vote for a government of their choice, has been suspended.

Elections are the quintessence of democracy. Subsequent to the December 2006 military coup, illegal regime Leader Bainimarama promised to hold elections in the country in 2009. His promise was not kept.

The illegal Attorney-General announced recently that his plan was to use Voting Machines in the next elections. It is another sinister plan.

Machines, as you all know, are subject to breakdowns. We all know that computer-generated machines can be rigged or hacked into. And as you all know, the majority of the population of Fiji live in the rural areas where electricity is severely limited. There is also no guarantee that the machines will leave a paper trail, that is, with every vote, issue a numbered paper slip to the voter proving that he or she voted and who he/she voted for.

I doubt elections will be held in 2014 but in case it is held, you can imagine what the illegal regime has in store with rigged voting machines.

At the recent Lau Provincial Elections, the repressive regime committed a most heinous, dastardly and tyrannical act. Although the illegal regime campaigned heavily for illegal Education Minister, Filipe Bole, he was defeated in a democratic election by Adi Ateca Ganilau.

The Nazi regime reacted immediately. It demanded that Adi Ateca be removed as Chairman or the meeting will be shut down and the aid funds identified for Lau will be scrapped.

Placing the development and progress of her beloved Province and its people before herself, Adi Ateca, acted with grace and nobility and stepped down as Chairman so as to allow the meeting to continue. This act by the illegal regime is an act of desperation. It is an act of repression. It is an act of tyranny to overturn the democratic will of the people of Lau.


Ladies and gentlemen, friends of Fiji, supporters of democracy:

In December 2006, the year the military coup took place, the economy may not have been at its best but growth was on the positive side.

From 2007, the Fiji economy began to go down the drain and the lives, hopes, aspirations of the people. In 2009, the drop was some 3%!

The Public Debt of the country, as a result of corruption, fraud and mismanagement, rose to an incredible 74% of the Gross Domestic Product.

The fiscal deficit of the country is being partly financed by the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNFP). No wonder the FNPF is facing a serious financial crisis due to bad investments, mismanagement, financial irregularities and corruption. The Government plans to severely and drastically cut the pensions of retirees.
Over 10,000 pensioners will be affected.

The sugar industry, the backbone of the economy, which contributes to the wellbeing of thousands of people, especially our Indian community, is in a state of collapse. It needs rehabilitation and re-tooling.

The European Union created a US$75 million Fund to assist the industry. The matter has been put on hold for over three years now since the illegal regime rejected the conditions set by the EU for the disbursement of the Fund.

The conditions were the lifting of the Emergency Regulations, the scrapping of the Media Decree and Media Censorship, the restoration of the Rule of Law and the holding of elections within a reasonable time. It is anyone's guess as to how long the sugar industry, in its current state, will survive.

We all know that when an economy is on a downward spiral, the people are seriously affected. Employment is one of the fatalities.

Unemployment in Fiji is at its highest level in years. And that unemployment level will rise cruelly when thousands of public servants are retrenched under the illegal regime’s plan to downsize the Public Service of Fiji.

Another tragedy in Fiji is the growing and expanding gap between income and prices. While income...salaries and wages... have remained at a virtual standstill, the prices of goods, medicines and services have skyrocketed.

Adding to this great sorrow was the devaluation of the Fiji dollar, by 20%. That had the immediate effect of a steep rise in the price of imports.
And the situation has been compounded by an increase in import duties on goods and medicines in the 2011 National Budget.

The ultimate and toxic result of an economy on a downward spiral, coupled with high unemployment and exorbitant prices, is poverty.

According to a Fiji Times news report of April 2010, the level of poverty in Fiji was estimated at some 45% of the population.

And to make matters worse, all financial aid to Fiji has withdrawn by the European Union, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

Yet, despite this depressing situation, the annual salaries of the illegal regime leader and his illegal Attorney-General, are estimated at $700,000 each annually. That amount is more than the pay of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Prime Minister of Australia and the President of the United States of America.

These salaries are not being handled by the Public Treasury as in all democratic countries. It is instead handled through a private accounting firm, whose owner is closely related to the illegal Attorney-General.

Look what our beloved Fiji has come to under a reprobate regime.

The illegal regime, in its path of economic and social destruction, has been seeking to destroy the tradition, custom and culture of the indigenous Fijian people.

The Great Council of Chiefs, the paramount institution of the Fijian people, no longer exists. It was scrapped by Bainimarama. The Methodist Church, a religious and spiritual institution for the Fijian people has been miniaturized by Bainimarama and Khaiyum.

Their unsatisfied greed is now focused on Fijian land with the creation of a Land Bank. The indigenous Fijians are worried they will lose what they inherited from their forefathers. Fear is a way of life in Fiji. This concern was also relayed to the NZ Maori Party representative

The infamous regime has also split the South Pacific region. In flagrant breach of the Agreement that created the Melanesian Spearhead Group, and with the support of the Solomon Islands, the illegal regime has assumed Chairmanship of the MSG and its plan is to use it as a front against Australia and New Zealand.

The Prime Minister of the Solomon’s conveniently forgets that many Fijian soldiers gave their lives for that country during World War II and now he is siding with an unelected, illegal and corrupt regime.

I call on all South Pacific countries to support freedom, democracy and the rule of law and reject the illegal regime in Fiji.


The solution to the repressive and oppressive situation in Fiji as I have outlined them to you is the restoration of democracy. That will only come about with the freefall of the illegal regime. This is the first step before anything else.

I have met and will continue to meet with all those who wish to see democracy restored in Fiji so that we can coordinate our efforts to achieve the best result in the shortest time possible. We may have differences of opinion of one kind or another on how it is to be done, but our goal is the same. And since our goal is the same I see no reason why we should not work together to achieve it.

In addition to speaking at Democracy Rallies in Australia and meeting with individual Fijians and groups, I met and held discussions with Australian Government officials, officials of Foreign Embassies in Canberra and officials of the Australian Congress of Trade Unions.

I had a most fruitful meeting a few weeks ago with the Prime Minister of Samoa. The Prime Minister, like all the officials I have spoken with so far, condemned the flagrant human rights violations in Fiji and called for increased sanctions.

And recently, Prime Minister Tuilaepa met with New Zealand's Foreign Minister McCully in Apia. At a Press Conference , the Prime Minister said he thought New Zealand and Australia were too soft. They should be quadrupling or increasing the sanctions on Fiji by ten times, he emphasised

At a UN Human Rights Council Meeting in Geneva on June 15, the Australian Representative said that “the deteriorating human rights situation in Fiji is of concern." This is Australia saying so

At the same meeting, the New Zealand representative called on Fiji to “take steps to respect and protect the rights of its citizens." This is New Zealand saying so.

The Ambassador-Designate of the United States to Fiji, Frankie Reed, at her Confirmation Hearing on June 29, said that despite the fact that Fiji's economy and tourism industry have been damaged by the coup, Fiji's coup leaders have not taken any credible steps to restore democratic institutions.



You may very well ask, what will happen when the illegal regime falls.

The Fiji Movement for Democracy in Fiji, based in Canberra, has discussed, debated, formulated a Roadmap of 10 Steps to restore democracy in Fiji.


The oppressive and disastrous situation in Fiji is not just a matter for one race. All races have been affected. All are suffering.

As the late great American Human Rights Advocate, the Rev Martin Luther King Jr said: We are all caught up in a unescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one, affects all indirectly.

Therefore, there is strength in unity and solidarity and TOGETHER we aspire, TOGETHER we shall achieve.

I urge all Fiji democracy groups here to link up and also to link across the Tasman with similar groups in Australia and further afield to Groups that may exist in the Region and in other parts of the world.

United, determined and courageous, we shall be victorious. YES WE CAN.

Fiji Nationals,

Ladies and Gentlemen

Friends of Fiji

Supporters of Democracy

Lend your support to our Democracy Movement and to our Campaign.

Add your voices to ours.

Write or speak to your Members of Parliament.

Support and aid the Fiji Democracy Movement here in New Zealand.

Do whatever you can, whenever you can in the noble cause to restore human rights, the rule of law, economic and social development and democracy in Fiji.

To paraphrase the words of a philosopher:

All that is necessary for evil to triumph in Fiji is for a few good people to do nothing about it.

Thank you very much for attending this Rally and for listening to what I had to say.







© Scoop Media

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