STATEMENT No 21:
SODELPA’S POSITION ON MATTERS MISREPRESENTED BY THE MEDIA
August 22 2014
Over the past few weeks certain sections of the media have set their sights on SODELPA through a number of issues. Those concerned have mounted a relentless effort to portray us as something other than a political party with sound values and principles. This is pro-regime propaganda.
It is quite extraordinary that the same media have nothing to say about the usurpers of our democracy, the draconian decrees they have in place, the plight of the 13 families [now 14 with the death of the robbery suspect while in Police custody], whose loved ones were killed, or the numerous citizens whose rights have been abused, with many of them subjected to beatings and other forms of torture, torment and persecution.
SODELPA will seek answers from these aiders and abettors of treason after the elections, but for now, I wish to state our position on the various issues that the media have, in our view, deliberately misconstrued.
1. Christian State
The SODELPA constitution and Manifesto do not call for a Christian State. What we say is that as a government, we will conduct ourselves based on Christian principles and values. These are values shared by all the world’s great religions. We are commanded to love our neighbors and do to others as we would have them do to us. We are required to forgive and to be merciful. We must care for the poor, the sick, the homeless, the forgotten and those in need. We must seek truth and social justice. These are the principles and values by which we shall govern.
We continuously stress that all religious groups in Fiji are free to practice their faith and beliefs without any fear or intimidation or threat from a SODELPA-led government.
The fact that SODELPA is committed to Christian values and principles makes our party more sensitive to the importance of respecting the values and principles of all other religions in the country.
This is in line with SODELPA’s vision of a Fiji that draws its strength from the rich variety of traditions, languages and cultures of its communities.
The alternative vision of a Fiji devoid of its cultural richness and diversity would give us a country that would be a pale imitation of the Fiji we know and love.
2. Common Name
SODELPA does not recognize or accept that two unelected people, who seized power through armed intervention, have the authority to decide arbitrarily that citizens of Fiji are called Fijians.International conventions and declarations of the rights of indigenous peoples stress the importance of prior consultation and consent on the use of their names as their identity. Article 19 of the UNDRIP (UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) says quote
‘States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them’.
Again we stress that the indigenous Fijians do not recognize the right of unelected individuals to take away their established identity and give them another like iTaukei.
The indigenous people have, for well over a century, been commonly known as Fijians; that name now is part of their tradition and culture. SODELPA will retain it for the indigenous community.
The issue of a common name for all will be addressed by SODELPA once a democratic, transparent and accountable government is established after September 17th 2014. We will initiate a national conversation among all communities in Fiji to establish a common name that does not divide us but creates a sense of unity and patriotism.
It will not be an imposed decision.
3. Indigenous Rights
SODELPA’s position on the indigenous people of Fiji is in keeping with established conventions of the ILO 169 & UN Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). We are guided by these international instruments.
A SODELPA Government will adopt UNDRIP Articles that ensure:-
- Indigenous peoples have the right to the full enjoyment, as a collective or as individuals, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law.
- Indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all other peoples and individuals and have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination, in the exercise of their rights, in particular that based on their indigenous origin or identity.
- Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
- Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.
- Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.
- Every indigenous individual has the right to a nationality.
- Indigenous individuals have the rights to life, physical and mental integrity, liberty and security of person. Indigenous peoples have the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples and shall not be subjected to any act of genocide or any other act of violence, including forcibly removing children of the group to another group.
- Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture:-
- States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for:
- Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their
- cultural values or ethnic identities;
- Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources;
- Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;
- Any form of forced assimilation or integration;
4. Fair Distribution of rental income by Itaukei
SODELPA will allow the land owners themselves to decide how the lease funds received for their land should be distributed. This cannot be dictated to them. It is their money and therefore they should decide how it is shared.
SODELPA notes with concern the attempt by some media reporters to push the Bainimarama–Khaiyum policy of dictating how landowners should share their wealth. The regime’s motives for doing this are very much related to its continuing campaign to undermine indigenous traditions and way of life.
Members of other communities decide for themselves how their earnings should be shared. No one else tells them how this should be done. The same principle should apply to the indigenous people surely.
5. The Abolition of the Great Council of Chiefs
The abolition of the Great Council of Chiefs, like the imposition of a common name, was the decision of two unelected, unrepresentative usurpers of our democracy. They acted and continue to act without a mandate from our people.
The GCC is the pinnacle of Fijian society, and just as other communities continue to enjoy their community and cultural structures without interference from the state, so too must the indigenous people of Fiji have the same right.
SODELPA will bring back the GCC and in so doing take the opportunity to review its functions and operations so that it can be better resourced to ensure more effective delivery in addressing specific issues affecting not only the indigenous people but all the citizens of Fiji.
The decision on the future of the GCC will remain the prerogative of the Fijian people and we expect all other communities to respect that right in the same way that their rights are respected by the Fijian itaukei community.
This is the position of SODELPA on these issues.
Ro Teimumu Vuikaba Kepa
Party Leader, SODELPA
August 22, 2014