FIJI’S RATU INOKE TO AUSTRALIAN UNIONIST: FIJIAN SOUL NOT FOR SALE

FIJI’S RATU INOKE TO AUSTRALIAN UNIONIST: FIJIAN SOUL NOT FOR SALE

SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 7, 2000 - The Fiji Times/ Fiji's Daily Post/PINA Nius Online)---Australian trade union leader Sharan Burrow obviously has learned nothing from her visit here about the causes of Fiji's current political crisis, the interim government's information minister says.

The minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, said: "She has come here with predetermined views and solutions. Her offer of $7 million for an election in six months is insulting to indigenous Fijians as well as all Fiji citizens."

The Fiji Times had earlier reported Burrow, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, as saying Australia is willing to provide $7 million to fund an election in the next six months. She claimed there is no valid reason for the interim administration to hold office for two years following the May 19 coup and subsequent deposing of the coalition government led by Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

Ratu Inoke said in a Ministry of Information statement: "Given the racist tradition of which is a part she cannot understand that indigenous rights are integral to human rights, the two are inseparable. Indigenous rights are human rights; indigenous Fijians are human beings.

"Fijian demands for constitutional amendments spring from a deep sense of insecurity and with a sincere wish for the socio-economic upliftment of a disadvantaged community. It is now acknowledged widely that the 1997 Constitution has political and legal flaws and these must be remedied to achieve fairness for Fijian as well as other communities domiciled in Fiji. Fijians are fighting for the restoration of their fundamental rights, for the recognition and protection of their human rights.

"Thus the Fijian soul is not for sale. It is not a question of money; it is an issue of principle.

"Burrows seems ignorant of the meaning of indigenous rights. In the country people like her stole. The Aborigines are protesting about their rights, demanding redress for past and present wrongs, including criminal acts. How many times has Burrows pleaded and fought for Aboriginal rights in Australia? For a start that $7million could go to the Aboriginal protestors in Sydney; it might help lessen Australia's shame.

"The people of Fiji, including indigenous Fijians, are nauseated with the hypocrisy of the likes of Burrows who do not practice at home what they preach abroad."

In other developments:

* Fiji's Daily Post said the coup makers now held in a temporary prison on Nukulau Island have written a letter of support to interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and his administration. They said this was because of its stance regarding indigenous interests.

Coup leader George Speight and his group - who now face treason charges - had earlier opposed the interim administration, saying it was not strong enough in addressing indigenous causes. The interim government has put in place a plan of recovery which includes helping indigenous Fijians and Rotumans reach a par with the other communities, the Daily Post said.

* The Fiji Times reported visitor arrival figures are expected to make a sharp rise within the next four months following more than 12,000 bookings received from New Zealand and Australia on a new low-cost package deal.

With airfares as low as $499 return and discount rates at hotels and resorts, the Fiji Hotel Association will request major airlines to increase capacity for the sudden upsurge in visitors, the Fiji Times said.

The tourism industry has launched a major recovery campaign following the coup.

* The Fiji Times reported Korovou town rebel leader Varinava Tiko has been admitted to the hospital with a broken jaw, cracked ribs and bruises sustained during a beating by soldiers.

His wife was quoted as saying Tiko is on bail but was called to the army camp because the military wanted more information about missing weapons.

In an editorial comment headlined "End the violence," The Fiji Times said: "The disciplined services have every right to feel angry about their treatment during the coup. But they must not be allowed to mete out justice. That is the prerogative of the courts."

* Fiji's Daily Post reported the Emperor gold mine at Vatukoula laid off 90 workers yesterday and is continuing talks with the government about possible assistance to avoid further lay offs. General manager Martin Jacobsen said of the job losses: "They're related to financial difficulties caused by Fiji's political situation, the continuing low gold price and recent shortfalls in production."

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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