Fiji's SODELPA Leader Calls For 'Responsible Debate' Over Racial Comments Made By UN Ambassador

Nazhat Shameem under fire for comments about institutionalized racism in Fiji

By Tevita Vuibau

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, March 14, 2017) – Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) leader Sitiveni Rabuka has called for restraint and caution in debates regarding comments made by Fiji's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Nazhat Shameem.

Mrs Shameem had told the UN last week that "racism was institutionalised in Fiji to such an extent that it instilled a privileged caste" linking the statement to the indigenous community in Fiji.

She went on to say that racism in Fiji was often disguised by assertions of a community's self-identity and in particular in relation to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The statement has since generated discussion and yesterday Mr Rabuka called for responsible debate, on what he said was a "mistaken characterisation". "I ask all our people to refrain from stereotyping and making generalisations about other communities and religions.

"I ask you to check the tone of the debate and to be guided by your faith as you discuss these issues.

"For those on social media, it is a good rule of thumb, to think before you publish your comment or posting.

"I remind Leaders, public office holders, opinion-makers and political commentators of their duty to exercise caution and restraint in this public debate, and not to inflame discord as we head towards elections next year."

"This unfortunate incident should be a reminder to all public office holders to exercise great care in the choice words and the assertions they make, especially in international fora as it can have tremendous ramification on our people and derail efforts to promote peace and goodwill between our communities."

Mr Rabuka made the statement from Perth where he is a guest of the Liberal Party of Australia.

Fiji Times Online.
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