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Thursday, 10 August, 2000, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Should the international community do more to help the ethnic Indian community in Fiji?

The coup that toppled Fiji's democratically elected government has left the country's large ethnic Indian community feeling isolated and scared.

South Asia
Could the international community intervene to help to restore democracy in the islands? Should India do more to fight for the rights of the ethnic Indian minority?

Or is the crisis an internal affair for the Fijian armed forces to resolve?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

External solutions may only create more division

Raviqidela, Fiji
As in a domestic tiff between husband and wife, a lasting solution can only emerge if the couple resolve it themselves by addressing each other's weaknesses. External solutions may only create more division because both the husband and wife will try to vilify each other to gain support of the "neutral" party.
Raviqidela, Fiji

Forces that undermine democracy and the rule of law should not be allowed to hide behind the excuse that it is an "internal matter". If Fiji is currently handicapped and unable to enforce its own laws, then the world at large should help.
Anil Sharma, India/ USA

The international community certainly has a role to play in the present situation in Fiji. Yesterday it was Speight - tomorrow it will be some other "joker". Unless these elements are shown that such actions will not be tolerated, incidents like these will continue to occur.
Mathew Kurien, UK

I was shocked to read Janet Mc, USA,'s comments. She does not seem to understand that ethnic Indians in Fiji are "natives" too, often second and third generation.
J. Sreedhar, India

To prove that concern for democracy is a priority for the international community, it should step in and help Fiji back on its feet.
Samson Verma, France

I think it is high time that Indians realised that God helps only those who help themselves. If they want what they want, they should be prepared to make sacrifices and ensure their rights are not trampled upon or else this story will go on forever.
Ravindra Unnam, USA

As a Fijian/ Indian I believe that the coup, constitution and basic human rights are Fiji's internal matters

Fasial, USA
As a Fijian/ Indian I believe that the coup, constitution and basic human rights are Fiji's internal matters. My heart goes out to the Fijian people, but like many other countries Fiji must be given the chance to learn and resolve its own internal disputes. I also believe that the Commonwealth, especially Australia and New Zealand, needs to keep the pressure on so that Fiji returns to democracy and new elections are called. Former Prime-Minister Chaudhry should keep silent and wait for new elections. If the people want him back then they will re-elect him - it's just that simple.
Fasial, USA

The Indians in Fiji always took everything for granted. In 1977, instead of forming a government, they started to fight amongst themselves for leadership. The rich Indians were always suppressing the poor Indians and treating the natives, as if they were nothing. We the Indians have never learned how to live with each other. Now the whole country has to pay a price.
Ramesh Kumar, Canada

Any coup that overthrows a democratically elected government not only hinders the growth of a nation, but also curbs the rights of the citizens. In Fiji it's not only Indians that are suffering but a whole nation. The international help must be oriented towards establishing a true justice of common good in Fiji which, of course, can't be done with the vested interests of any nation.
Donald D'Souza, India/ Mexico

Speight has turned Fiji into a Banana Republic. It is about time that the UN, Commonwealth, APEC, etc do something. When a minority in any part of the world is oppressed, these bodies conveniently keep quiet.
Kumbes, Australia

The Fiji affair is internal. It is a conflict between the ethnic communities of Fiji and must be resolved internally.
Haruna Darbo, USA

The Indians in Fiji are themselves to blame for the current political situation in that country

Iqbal, Pakistan
The Indians in Fiji are themselves to blame for the current political situation in that country. If the spree of crime and violence continues, then they should try to be offensive instead of asking help from other countries.
Iqbal, Pakistan

It is the duty of the international community to restore the democratically elected government of Chaudhry. The UN Security Council should immediately involve itself and restore the elected governenment.
H.S.S. Lyengar, USA

I believe the International Community should stay out of this matter. What the Fijian natives did was in defence of their land. This world is inhabited by too many who do not know how to survive in the country in which they were born so they go to other countries and try to dominate and take over.
Janet Mc, USA

India must force Fiji to restore the Indians' rights but only after applying this policy in Punjab and Kashmir.
Raj Singh, India (Punjab)

Why is the native Fijians' point of view not important? Do they not have a right? I have seen a tendency to give rights ONLY when it does not cost them anything. Where it does, the natives are lambasted or ignored.
Frank Yeo, UK

The international committee should intervene to restore the democratic government of Mr Chaudhry. If the indigenous Fijians want a racial government, then they should be able to do it by the democratic means of getting their own representatives elected. And they should be aware that the immigrants who are citizens now have contributed more to the economy and the Fijians should be able to allow multi-cultural values to coexist. Otherwise they might face a brain-drain as the educated minority community starts to quit Fiji and move elsewhere. Other industries such as tourism, import/ export would be affected by sanctions from the Commonwealth if they continue to be racists.
James Shields, USA

Where the UN goes, sorrow too often grows

Indoeuro, USA
The United Nations, with its history of foot-dragging, bureaucracy, and inept military or police action, is not the organisation to intervene in the restoration of the proper democratically elected government of the Fiji Islands. Where the UN goes, sorrow too often grows.
Indoeuro, USA

There is no reason for the international community to be interested enough to exert pressure on Fiji to restore democratic rights. Let the Fiji Indians suffer and in the long run the indigenous Fijians will also suffer. As for India, it has never shown enough guts to deal with the plight of Indians abroad. The manner of its actions in handling Pakistan-supported terrorism is also spineless, costing so much suffering to innocent civilians. I think India does not know her strength and has been used to thinking in terms of having a master for nearly a thousand years.
Vinod Dawda, UK

While it is wrong to discriminate against minorities in general and twice as odious as practised by Speight and company, I dislike the idea that any "international" body should be able to interfere in a country's internal affairs.
Glenn Wilson, USA

I think the countries, which should really put pressure on Fiji, should be firstly the Pacific Ocean nations, in particular Australia and New Zealand. If what happened in Fiji was unofficially accepted by its quite powerful neighbours then expect the same to happen in other countries, where racism can guarantee easy votes.
Vinod Chhotu Patel, UK

Surely the big lesson to be learned is that Jaw, Jaw, Jaw is better than War, War, War.
Bill Alexander, Scotland

The forceful overthrowing of a democratically elected government is an insult to the citizens of the country in question. When a few armed men, be it rebels or the army, in Fiji, Pakistan or any other country, cannot respect the collective decision of the country's citizens as to who will lead them, the rest of the democratic world should get involved. It is not just a matter of ethnic suppression but a matter of human suppression. It shouldn't matter whether the country is large or small, whether its people are of African, Asian, Latin American or European origin. A wrong must be set right and if the people of Fiji need help in doing so then, yes, India and other democracies and even the UN ought to lend a hand.

The international community should realise that the Indian population of Fiji is also "indigenous". After all they are Fijian citizens born in Fiji, and in most cases their parents were Fijian citizens as well. So-called indigenous groups should be given no encouragement when they try to impose their own versions of Apartheid.
Vish, India/ USA

If the pillars of democracy have been shaken, then the global community should take the matter seriously

Guru Shenoy, USA
If the pillars of democracy have been shaken, then the global community should take the matter seriously. The injustice done is not just to Indians in Fiji, but to all minorities in democratic countries. Indians in Fiji should not expect just India to try and help. Their ties with that country are passive after so many generations. With a billion people, India has other priorities at the moment other than bickering with a nation that doesn't have much relevance to her economy anyway.
Guru Shenoy, USA

If democracy is to prevail and ethnic cleansing, racism and xenophobia are to be controlled, international organisations must immediately step in before the situation worsens, be it Fiji, Germany, Balkans, EU, Africa or any other part of the world. India being the largest democracy and the other so-called older democracies of the world should put pressure on the people of Fiji to restore democracy and rule of law.
Mahender Singh, Switzerland

I have rarely seen a more open and shut case. A man topples the democratic government for purely racist motives. Him and his cronies use the opportunity to grab a little power, settle old scores, bully people around and hopefully scare enough Indians away in order to reduce their voting power. He may have been arrested but democracy has still not been restored, why not? The UN must intervene, the Commonwealth countries must intervene, but it must be done as part of supervision of and assistance to the local armed forces who are too strained to deal with the situation.
Michael, Ireland

Democracy is not the issue here. Whenever one has a more educated minority within any country, the majority will always find ways to oppress them. They, being the majority, can do so through democracy. Another example of a similar problem is Sri Lanka.
Krishan Canagasabey, UK

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See also:

03 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
More rebels rounded up in Fiji
02 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Coup batters Fiji's economy
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