Australian evil for Fiji - continues long after Girmit
Guest Writer: Rajendra Prasad, Author: Tears in Paradise
Prologue by Thakur Ranjit Singh:
During the dark Girmit (Indenture) days in Fiji between 1879 and 1916, there existed an AXIS OF EVIL to hide the inhumane, criminal and villainous acts by trio, comprising Colonial Sugar Refining Company, British Government and AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT. They say, leopards do not change their spots. The evil that Australia was for Fiji, especially Indo Fijians, in nineteenth century still continues today, as is exposed by our GUEST WRITER,
|Rajendra Prasad, author of this article and author of TEARS IN PARADISE-Struggle and Sacrifices of Indians in Fiji-1879-2004|
Professor Stephen Howes, Director of Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University has made a shocking revelation that the Australian Government had been vetoing loans to Fiji worth hundreds of millions of dollars from the World Bank and ADB. He made this revelation in The Australian Newspaper on May 29 and also noted that Australia, in bizarre twist, had doubled its annual aid to Fiji, since December 2006, now valued at over $F100 million.
It is interesting to note that on one hand Australia vetoes World Bank and ADB loans and on the other hand it doubles its aid to Fiji following the December 6, 2006 military coup. This Australian approach is a duplicitous act that shows Australia, as a nation that unashamedly engages in practices that would readily qualify it to join the rogue nations of the world where morals and ethics are dismissed callously, embracing the much-maligned adage that means justify the end. Yet, it never ceases to preach belligerently to island nations on democracy, good governance, accountability and transparency.
Rightly, most island nations think of Australia as the big Pacific bully with New Zealand as its lapdog. Both connive and conspire to promote their agendas and the aid funds that they provide to island nation works as carrot and the stick is applied selectively. In achieving its objectives, the Australian Government has shown that it can even engage in terrorism, as venal as those carried out by Taliban.
In 2007, it organized an operation to kidnap Dr Julian Moti QC, the Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands, on trumped up charges of sexual violation, involving a minor in Vanuatu. Interestingly, he was already acquitted of the charges laid against him in Vanuatu court in 1999. However, it did not matter, the quarry was hounded and hunted for years and had to be delivered to the slaughter. In this sad saga, even Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, an ardent supporter of Dr Julian Moti, became its unfortunate victim, as he lost in a vote of no confidence motion passed against him. Australian complicity in this affair is a logical conclusion.
His successor, Derek Sikua, facilitated sacking of Dr Julian Moti QC as Attorney-General and court processes to swiftly deliver him in the arms of Australia. In the court proceedings that followed, it was revealed that the Australian Federal Police had provided substantial financial incentive to the complainant and her family to elicit conviction of Dr Julian Moti QC. After prolonged court battles, Australia’s highest court, dismissed the case.
Why was Dr Julian Moti targeted? He was seen as an impediment to Australian interests in the Solomon Islands. Though he was an Australian citizen, he was not given the honour and dignity to which every Australian is entitled. Besides, Dr Julian Moti was no ordinary citizen, as he was a Queen’s Counsel, an internationally acclaimed law professor and Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands. However, it did not matter. His Indian ethnicity may have worked to his disadvantage, as he was placed in handcuffs and flown and delivered to Australia as a fugitive. What more, a crime of this magnitude escaped the Australian media and was of no interest to New Zealand.
There is no doubt that Australia holds considerable influence in the affairs of the World Bank and ADB because of its economic might and influence in the region. So to bring down Fiji to its knees and noting that its smart sanctions were not working; it used its power and influence to initiate economic sabotage against Fiji. The World Bank and ADB relented but in a dubious attempt to pacify Fiji and regain its lost ground (to China) it doubled its aid package. This purported gesture made no difference to Fiji, as Fiji, the hub of the Pacific, is now China’s protégé in the Pacific. And to confirm it, China demonstrated it in no small measure, as Prime Minister Commodore Bainimarama became the first leader in the Pacific to have the honour of audience with the newly appointed President Xi Jinping. Australia and New Zealand are not even listed in the queue!
Both Australia and New Zealand habitually malign Commodore Bainimarama and his Government and if they care to analyse and compare it with the previous democratically elected Governments since independence, they will find that only validation they had was the elective process but the core value of each was to discriminate against its Indo-Fijian citizens. They were discriminated, alienated and marginalized. For example, the Rabuka Government introduced positive discrimination against them and its successor, the Qarase Government pursued it as affirmative action. In essence, the intent was same only label was changed to hide the lethal intend and content.
Following Qarase Government’s accession, there was a massive eviction of Indo-Fijians from land that they leased from indigenous landowners. It was a Government-initiated plan to persecute Indo-Fijians for their support to their own ethnic party (1999 elections) that displaced them. Hundreds of families were routed from their farms and homes, as village after village emptied. Eviction of Indo-Fijian farmers was nothing but oppression of a race for exercising its democratic rights. It did not matter to the Government for the damage it caused to the sugar industry or to the Fijian economy, as it derived pleasure in destroying the lives of innocent citizens.
Both Australia and New Zealand knew about the Government’s criminal intent and also saw thousands of Indo-Fijians made destitute. It did nothing to assuage their pain and suffering, presumably for reasons that the actions were perpetrated by a Government that was democratically elected! They kept quiet as if it was justified. Or is it because the victims were ethnic Indians who do not attract same consideration or sympathy as those that are born with a fairer skin? Theoretically, both advocate adherence to democratic precepts but apply it selectively. For example, they do not give their great message of democracy to China that is an authoritarian regime and ritually engages in violation of human rights.
Today, Australia harbours those who were behind the 2000 coup and had categorically condemned the 1997 Constitution and asked for its abrogation because it failed to protect the political hegemony of the indigenous oligarchy. But when they got back into power in a subsequent election through corruption and rigged voting, they embraced the same Constitution and lauded it as just and fair! From this, a logical question follows - is Australian intelligence so naïve that it cannot distinguish between those who are true advocates of democracy and those who are opportunists? No, Australia is not naïve. Australian politics is not grounded on principles but on sheer opportunism.
It is to Fiji’s credit that it has a strong Government that has stood toe-to-toe with the regional bullies. Australia assumed that by denying Fiji loans through the World Bank and ADB, Fiji would become economically insolvent, forcing it to look to Australia for rescue. In such event, it felt that it would be able to reassert its power and position in the Pacific, which is now lost forever. Now the Chinese dragon is going to protect, promote and defend the Fijian shores by proxy and Australia and New Zealand better maintain their distance lest the dragon spits fire from its citadel in the Pacific.
Even the Russian bear has opened its door to Fiji, as Prime Minister Commodore Bainimarama was scheduled to meet President Putin after meeting the Chinese President Xi Jinping. When all's said and done the kangaroo and the kiwi are no match to the dragon and the bear. Indeed, the Pacific had become the battle ground of a cold war that has been decisively won by China. The Australian Government policy towards Fiji, dictated by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, will come to haunt Australia. Any country that allows trade unions to dictate its agenda is doomed and in the forthcoming Australian elections in September, change of Government is a foregone conclusion.
(*Rajendra Prasad is the author of Tears in Paradise – suffering and Struggles of Indians in Fiji 1879-2004).