Ashwin Raj stresses historically, that the invocation of the term vulagi in relation to Indo-Fijians also meant that visitors should always know their place and when they have overstayed their welcome. [File Photo]
The invocation of the term vulagi or ‘visitor’ has a very specific connotation in the context of Fiji’s history of race relations says Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Director, Ashwin Raj.
Raj says the provisional candidate of The Peoples Alliance Liliana Warid is also using the term ‘vulagi’ or visitor not in terms of a multitude of means in her cultural register but her use of the term was very specific to a particular ethnic community.
He adds this ethnic community has historically felt the brunt of entrenched discrimination and institutionalized racism which began with typecasting the Indo-Fijian community as vulagis or visitors.
Raj stresses historically, that the invocation of the term vulagi in relation to Indo-Fijians also meant that visitors should always know their place and when they have overstayed their welcome.
He says he does not believe that the meaning of visitor in the context of the proposed candidate was misconstrued or any concerted effort was made to impose a racial meaning on the term as claimed by the PA officials.
Raj highlights the proposed candidate did a good job of making it abundantly clear that she is invoking the term in relation to a non-indigenous community, and that she is referring to Indo-Fijians.
The HRADC Director says to now claim that the meaning has been misconstrued by those interpreting the social media post is insulting the intelligence of those who have an acute sense of historical consciousness and or have suffered the full brunt of racism in this country.
He adds to speak out against this logic is not to suppress freedom of expression or avoid public discourse on contentious issues.
Raj says the challenge for a country that is emerging out of the detritus of institutionalized racism remains, how we evacuate race from racism.