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"Our rights have been taken away"

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, May 7, 2008) – Three paramount chiefs from Namosi, Rewa and Cakaudrove will lobby against the interim government when they file a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Council on issues surrounding indigenous Fijians.

The head of the Burebasaga confederacy and Rewa chief Ro Teimumu Kepa has confirmed to Fijilive that with Ratu Suliano Matanitobua and Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, they are putting together a paper that would be forwarded to the UN Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Ro Teimumu said indigenous Fijians are being threatened through the actions of the interim government.

"Our rights have been taken away because the IG dictates everything now and the people have no say," she said. "We are being threatened with changes to our chiefly system, which includes the Great Council of Chiefs and also the interim government has brought about a lot of changes that is affecting our everyday decision making. With all that's happening most of the villages around the country have not been able to get any sort of assistance and people are suffering."

Ro Teimumu said these changes have greatly affected the indigenous Fijians one way or the other.

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly last year with the mandate to develop a set of minimum standards that would protect indigenous peoples.


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