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Sunday, 23 July, 2000, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
Fiji: Did Speight get too many concessions?
The coup in Fiji has come to an end, with wide-ranging concessions being made to the coup leader, George Speight, and his followers. They demanded, and got:
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
What no one seems to say, given the "approvals," then disapprovals of the various "interim" governances is that Speight, Amin of the Pacific, will not be happy until he is named prime minister.
Well done Mr George Speight. It is good to see men like you stand their ground and claim what is rightfully theirs. Look at what happened in New Zealand and Australia the natives there are seen as second class citizens all in the name of democracy by the Europeans.
Imagine the howls of dismay if Britain decided that people whose British ancestry didn't go back further than the mid-19th century wasn't a full citizen. Nobody elected the Fijian rebels, soldiers or Ratus -- they have no mandate to sell out their country.
Speight has most certainly got away with too much. If only Fiji would think of the Indo Fijians as a gift of her colonial era to the good of the economy of the present.
Bravo Mr Speight. Many indigenous people who have been overwhelmed by tight-knit immigrants wish they could also take back their land and culture.
Speight is a criminal, guilty of treason and as such should be imprisoned and tried. He has mocked democracy and the principles of civilisation. That he is free and throwing his weight around is ridiculous.
Speight has been given so much that the question of how much doesn't matter any more. He has got all he wanted but at the expense of his own people.
Aradhna Pillai, Fiji
Speight is a racist, nothing more nothing less. He says that Westerners cannot understand his country but this is a very transparent attempt at pushing aside our views. If he really doesn't want us involved, then so be it, leave him, but ensure no aid, no investment, no help of any form is delivered.
I don't understand why people who migrated to Fiji 100 years ago are still being called Indians. They are not Indian citizens nor are they contributing towards the growth of India. They are Fijians.
This is an act full of shame and absolute misery. Fiji will remember this as the dawn of darkness and a brutal murder of democracy. Whatever happened in Fiji should not happen to other underdeveloped countries. It is the defeat of democracy.
I'm amazed at the arrogance of my fellow Westerners in assuming that every country of the world must be the image of a Benetton advertisement. Wake up. The Bosnians, Kosovans, Sri Lankans, Zimbabweans, and, yes, Fijians of the world are the rule, not the exception. Get used to it. It's not right, but it's the way it is.
Mark Green, British, but in Japan
Fiji's main problem is that its economy is dominated by people of Indian origin, while its armed forces and police are predominantly Native Fijian. This is always a recipe for turmoil. It will take a generation or two for homogeneity to prevail. For instance the Guyanas (English, French and Dutch) have arrived at a stable political system after a generation of instability. As for any armed intervention, it was India's business with possibly some help from Australia to quell Speight and his thugs.
Tilak Abeysinghe, Sri Lanka
If this is the way Spieght wants it then the Indians should look after themselves. They control the business and money. Don't pay any taxes to a government that exists only for the Fijians. Let the Fijians govern themselves - As Spieght puts it when discussing the Fijian Army -"to be in command, but have nothing to command."
Several countries, like Fiji were left with intractable problems at independence time. Using the gun in 1987 and again this year in Fiji only exacerbates the situation. I taught in a Fijian school for 6 years, both major communities have great attributes. Appreciating one another is much harder than hating one another. Speight was given far too much publicity by the media, and the present outcome only encourages more violence.
George Speight is a malevolent Walter Mitty with delusions of grandeur. However, I don't understand why the Commonwealth and International community are not popping his bubble by imposing immediate sanctions thus dropping him in his own filth. By the way, are all indigenous Fijians racist because I haven't heard of any protesting against this vileness.
One can only feel for the history of Fiji and her Indian population. However the Indians are a part of Fiji, and if Fiji is to have her independence, the country must abide by the rules of democracy and the ever-popular vote. The man was voted in to office, let him do his job, and next election, elect again who you as a country want in office.
Caving into Speight's demands signifies the
current trend in world politics - THE GUN RULES!
A loss for democracy and freedom the world over
and which will encourage other megalomaniacs
in third world countries!
You can tell a tree by the fruits it bears - you tell a man by his works Mr Speight stood what he believed and fought on the principle of truth and justice.
A fitting and appropriate reply should be delivered by India to the perpetrators of the recent dastardly events.
This Fiji drama is nothing new in light of that one ethnic group denies others of political and cultural rights, or in the worst case, the rights to survive. Still, Fiji Indians are fortunate since the whole crisis did not end up as genocide like in Rowanda, Bosnia or Kosovo.
Ribu Jacob, India/Kuwait
George Speight is a member of the same political club as Mugabe, Milosovic, Idi Amin and Hitler. He justifies racism as a political end and violence as a political means. Fiji is nothing more than a banana republic and Speight a tin-pot dictator. As for those who support such actions as necessary, they are little better than racists themselves. Democracy is about compromise and brotherhood. The Fijian version obviously allows for armed uprising if you don't happen to agree with the will of the people.
What a weird question - did Speight get too much? For a person with a criminal background, who was due for trial on extortion charges, who so arrogantly brings down his nation for self serving interests, and now trots around like an Idi Amin - The man should have been arrested long back. And, you still ask? Did Speight get too many concessions? This is a shame, democracies of the world expressing lip sympathy and wondering whether Speight got too many concessions.
Speight is a racist and terrorist who has achieved just about everything he wanted to achieve thanks to an impotent military, which, to all intents and purposes, has given the gunmen tacit support. Without guns, he would be a nobody. He's a disgrace to civilisation.
Krishan W, Sri Lanka
I agree with Michael, that it would be best if the Asians left Fiji to return to India. At least they have that option. The Fijians just want to retain control of that small part of this earth that is their homeland. I think the UK government should offer financial help to assist this, as they are doing in Zimbabwe.
This maybe an unpopular opinion in these days of Political Correctness when the fashion is to pander to all sorts of minorities but majorities have rights too. I back George Speight and applaud his being able to re-gain control of his country and put it back into the hands of the majority ethnic Fijians. In too many countries in the world the indigenous people who have lived there centuries have been supplanted by interlopers in the name of so called Democracy. Its good to see the rightful rulers have their birthright restored.
Eric Dickens, Netherlands
Speight did not get too many concessions. He simply got for the Fijians their independence from Indian subjugation. Speight is a hero of self-determination. After all India is ruled by Indians and so Fiji should be ruled by ethnic Fijians!
Rabuka, Speight and other indigenous Fijian cronies are LOSERS. Indians are a very hardworking immigrant group everywhere including the United States. This form of reverse discrimination should invite severe sanctions from U.S., Australia, New Zealand and the European Community against Fijian thugs!
Jayant Chaudhary, India / USA
Indigenous peoples are victims, not
practitioners of racism, but they can ill afford
to surrender their land. Fiji has been alone among
the nations of the world in supporting the Draft UN
Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous peoples,
according surviving indigenous peoples the same
rights as the settler state citizens who often
supplanted and attempted to exterminate them. I
congratulate the Fijian people on their great victory
over colonial globalisation and cultural genocide
in restoring their traditional form of democratic government.
The commonwealth must send a
clear message by applying the same
sanctions as were applied to South
Africa. Let's see which countries
will be hypocrites!
Matt K, US
Its time for the majority to stand up against the exploitation of the minority as was found in South Africa, Zimbabwe and elsewhere. I do not agree with the method but I can understand the objective.
Person like Speight should have been put into
prison forever and never let him out. This kind of barbaric
act shouldn't be accepted in the 21 century and if we accept this then we
should accept Hitler also!
The release of the hostages in Fiji, after being in captivity for 55 days, is most welcome. However, this has been achieved only after granting what seemed to be a never-ending stream of concessions to the coup leader, Mr. George Speight. Freedom for the hostages would become meaningless, unless a democratic and Constitutional Government within the framework of the nation's 1997 Constitution is restored early.
This event is vindictive and the fact that the ethnic Indians are still treated as "outsiders" is rather amazing. The fact that the big powers are silent on the whole issue is that Fiji has no natural resources to offer and no strategic location. The result will most likely be a large out flux of people with talent and abilities as they are totally alienated. This may well be a repeat of Uganda under Idi Amin and what happened to that country when the ethnic minority left for greener pastures?
Guru Shenoy, United States
Fiji belongs to the Fijians, not to the Indians of subcontinent. No matter how enterprising the latter are. As long as we have an international system with its key component as state, the rights of the sons of the soil within a particular state have to be protected. Otherwise, the forces of Social Darwinism, and outright capitalism, will swallow less advanced nations. Speight was right in his cause, and whatever concessions he got in the latest deal with the army are justified.
One can argue that if George Speight didn't get involved then someone else would have. The real issue is how indigenous communities cope when they become the minority race. Resorting to hostage taking shouldn't be the solution to this. Neither is reducing the rights of the immigrant population. But over the next few decades this situation is going to be replayed in many parts of the world and a peaceful way forward needs to be found to settle these issues before they become uncontrollable.
George Speight is Fiji's Mugabe, but more dangerous - racist power without responsibility.
It is as others have said - a tragedy to have succumbed to the rebels.
Now that the rebels have released their hostages the military, or whoever was
in charge, should now go back on the agreement - round all of the rebels and their supporters up
and try them for treason - it's like a confession - a coerced confession is no confession, likewise
a coerced agreement should be no agreement.
Democracy begins with "one man, one vote",
and continues with equal rights, and protection
Fiji right now is in the same position as
South Africa under apartheid, and
the world should show the same
condemnation towards it.
I thought the whole approach to hostage taking was using them as a leverage to ensure your demands are met. While incidents like this show would be hostage takers that the practice can work it can only increase the risk of terrorism and kidnapping. It's the possibility of success, however remote, that makes the taking of hostages a worthwhile plan.
Unfortunately, any legitimate argument that Speight may have, has been made completely irrelevant by his actions.
Tahir Nawab, USA
Presumably Speight will never be able to travel outside Fiji, otherwise he will be arrested for the very serious crimes committed.
What a pity - Fiji is now destined to become the basket case of the Pacific, just like Zimbabwe is in Africa.
The week Indian BJP government failed to protect the cause of the Fijian Indians. Australian government failed to exercise its regional power to reinstall the ousted democratic government. George Speight should be brought to justice. He could not face the Fijian Indians politically and opted for bullet instead of ballot. The Fijian army lost its image for its suspicious role in handling the situation.
M. I. Shafi, Ph.D., USA
I believe this is a triumph for the rights of indigenous peoples everywhere. I think the reason that other nations are concerned is fear that their own oppressed minorities will see what Speight has done, and will follow suit. Perhaps the incident in Fiji will force other nations to deal more equitably with their own aboriginal groups.
I was shocked when I read the news about what the military in Fiji agreed to give these rebels. It clearly illustrates that in Fiji and perhaps other democracies, they are nations of men and not of law. To shred their constitutions on the basis of not liking another's skin colour? If it can happen in Fiji, it can happen anywhere.
I cannot understand how and why any concession extracted under duress can be accepted by anybody concerned. The military in Fiji can easily throw out all concessions granted to the rebels and don't have to explain any of their actions. The same approach can be followed in all situations involving forceful confinement and terrorism everywhere.
There are many countries in the South Pacific with significant non-indigenous populations, including my own, New Zealand.
The International Community must decide if Fiji is an isolated case or a call to address the colonial legacy in this area?
Look what happened to Uganda in the 70's and 80's, after it expelled its Asian population (again the main business owners). Fiji is sure to suffer a similar economic fate.
Is it not his turn to be the "hostage" this time?
This an opportunity for the International Community to see that justice is served in Fiji and also that we are able to send a strong message to people/ groups who may try to follow Fiji's example.
Looks like hostage taking works. I thought it was a general policy not to give in to demands of gunmen.
It is a tragedy for Fiji, loved as a holiday designation by many people around the world - the country is now ruined. I was there during the act of terrorism by Mr Speight. He is nothing more than a terrorist. The Commonwealth needs to take action, countries need to rapidly accept the Fiji Indians who will be the most disadvantaged as a result of all this.
The idea that racism is allowed to triumph over democracy is sickening. George Speight has achieved a dangerous precedent that should be halted by the international community immediately.
On the news last night when the spokesman was asked about Indian rights, he commented "that he couldn't care less about their rights." That they are so openly racist to what numbers 50% of their population is going to cause real suffering.
What does this say about how
terrorism is handled by members of
the Commonwealth? This sends out
a clear message to other would-be
opposition groups across the world
that terrorism works.
As someone who has relatives who are Fijian Indian I am concerned about this capitulation.
George Speight is no better than those who have denied rights to the minorities in their countries are.
The major governments of the world should ban all flights and trade with Fiji until real democracy
is brought back for all the peoples of those islands.
Paul Ohia, Nigeria
Can there really be any doubt in anyone's mind that this a terrible, shameful miscarriage of justice? Fiji had made great steps forward, and with its multi-ethnic constitution, it was truly democratic and fair state.
The worst is yet to come. International sanctions may well be applied, understandably, since Mr. Speight has managed to dismantle a democracy and get away with it.
The Speight charade gives a bad example for other criminals in other countries to follow. It shows that they can get away with anything. Speight should spend the rest of his life in prison, but he'll end up getting power and money from the deal.
It is now up to the democratically based international community to ensure that justice is served against Speight.
Fiji provides an ideal platform for strategic co-operation between India and Australia.
It's a pretty disgusting result by a pretty disgusting group of political and military leaders. Fiji deserves to be excluded from the world community while this racist nonsense is given so much as a veil of legitimacy.
I fear that if a small country like Fiji can pull that off, then other small countries may try and successfully win, and then those groups will group together to form one big alliance against a bigger nation.
Clearly lives had to be saved, and the hostages released. But no one should get away with murdering democracy. Whatever happens, it's a tragedy for Fiji.
14 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Fiji returns to civilian rule
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