Education Minister Premila Kumar speaking at the Girmit day celebration at Civic Centre Suva.
On the very day marking the anniversary of the arrival of Girmitiyas, the then Major General Sitiveni Rabuka carried out the 1987 coup on May 14th, leading to the exodus of many descendants of the Girmityas.
Education Minister Premila Kumar says those who remained were made to feel like they were not as good as other Fijians and did not belong in their country of birth.
She adds these racial tensions and double standards made life very difficult.
Kumar says the 2000 coup that followed saw further brutality, mistreatment, the loss of fundamental human rights, and threats to rights of freedom of speech, action, assembly, and religion.
“The true identity of all Fijians came with our 2013 Constitution that allows everyone who is born in Fiji to have the right to be called a Fijian, regardless of race, religion, colour, gender, or socio-economic status. And this is the Fiji of today.”
She adds unity has been achieved through the leadership of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and his vision for a united Fiji, educating all children, and a peaceful nation.
Attempts to get comments from People’s Alliance Leader Sitiveni Rabuka about the 1987 coup, proved futile.