After a week of glaringly contradictory statements about why there was an exodus of thousands of Fijians exactly 35 years ago following his first coup, the leader of the People’s Alliance party now says descendants of girmityas were not chained or forced onto airplanes to mass migrate.
Earlier in the week, Sitiveni Rabuka had said that thousands left Fiji on their own accord after his 1987 coup for greener pastures.
Then he said some people had left Fiji in a hurry after the coup because of his actions that had led to the persecution and discrimination against the descendants of the girmitiyas.
But now in his latest comments, he has told FBC News that people were already planning to leave for better opportunities even before his coup.
Claims that have been shot down vehemently by the government and descendants of girmitiyas.
The week of contradictory statements by the man considered to be one of the most inconsistent in Fijian politics continues.
PAP Leader Sitiveni Rabuka has now made his most bitter statement about the mass migration of thousands of Fijians after his coup of 1987.
“No one was forced to leave, they all paid there fares and no one was chained forced marched to the airport and ports. Everybody who left, left at their own accord.”
While acknowledging the upheaval he caused in 1987, Rabuka remains adamant that the coup only exacerbated what people were already planning to do – look for better opportunities outside Fiji.
“It may have been because of the coup, but nobody forced them to go. Everybody was always looking for better opportunity elsewhere. Even now, people are still leaving and people are also leaving other countries to come to Fiji. It’s all in the fluidity in the population of the world, looking for better opportunities elsewhere.”
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama [Source: Fijian Government]
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says events of 1987 left many people displaced and uncertain of their future.
“A single man’s pursuit of power robbed thousands of Fijians of any faith in the future of their country. They fled Fiji in droves. They left their homes in desperation with fear in their hearts and devoid of hope for their future. Families were separated. Many of our best and brightest people took their talents to other countries where they felt safe; where they felt they would be treated as equal. Those countries gain was our loss.”
Alvick Maharaj [Source: Parliament of the Republic of Fiji]
The harsh realities of what transpired during and after Rabuka’s coup was also highlighted in parliament this week by the government whip Alvick Maharaj.
“When the self-respect and dignity were totally destroyed and when ladies were raped in front of their families. Husbands had to literally hide their wives and daughters in dalo and cassava plantations just to safeguard them from rape. Torture, rape, and bloodshed became a routine after the 1987 coup and were repeated in the 2000 coup.”
A vocal descendant of the Girmitya, Roshika Deo says the coup and the inhumane treatment of Indo-Fijians left many with not much of a choice.
“The circumstances were such that people were forced to leave. When we say that people left for greener pastures, we have to be really careful to take into account what was prevalent at that time, during the coup, after the coup and even decades after the coup that is forcing girmitya descendants to leave the country.”
FBC news also sought comments from vocal political commentator Shamima Ali, but Ali said she wasn’t feeling well and asked FBC news to contact her later.
In a strange twist of irony, Rabuka is currently in India, exactly 143 years after the arrival of the first Girmitiyas to Fiji and on the 35th anniversary of his coup which led to what many call the second Girmit or exodus of Indo-Fijians.