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To the Commonwealth Heads of State - Te Karere Ipurangi
2 June 2000
To the Heads of State, Commonwealth Countries
Your Excellencies and Prime Ministers, Greetings
You will be aware that over the last two weeks, international perceptions of the crisis in Fiji have been shaped primarily by the opinions and comment of politicians and media from Australia and New Zealand. I am sure you are also aware that most of that opinion and comment has been shaped by cultural perceptions that are not valid outside the small number of Anglo-European countries of the Commonwealth. Aware also, that those pronouncements do not necessarily represent the views of the indigenous peoples and many other concerned citizens of New Zealand, and possibly Australia.
Like all of you I'm sure, I too deplore the actions of the hostage takers, and do not condone the coup in any way.
However, I and many others have been appalled, from an indigenous Pacific cultural perspective, by the intemperate outbursts of politicians and media in Australia and New Zealand. I have attempted, with others, to present an alternative indigenous perspective at my website http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/rhimona/karere/karesup.htm. In presenting this perspective we have received many messages of support and thanks from around the world. We have also received much support and thanks from Indigenous Fijian people who have not had access to media resources to allow their own voices to be heard, in the face of the torrent of abuse, mockery and ridicule they have been subjected to.
We have been gratified also to receive messages of support from a number of Indian Fijians, and from citizens of India. A paper by Professor John Davies at the above site outlines the background to this conflict, and presents a balanced view of the sources of inter-racial conflict, and the inadequacies of the 1997 Constitution. This paper has been widely acclaimed by thousands of readers around the globe, including readers from India.
The governments of Australia and New Zealand have issued a stream of threats to Fiji over the last two weeks, without any understanding of the situtation. Those threats have revolved around sanctions, and possible suspension from the Commonwealth, or from some Commonwealth activities. We understand that an action group of ministers of the Commonwealth will meet next week to discuss what action to take against Fiji.
We respectfully urge you to approach this matter with understanding and compassion for this small Pacific country, but more importantly for all the peoples of Fiji. We urge that the Commonwealth takes a new approach, based not on sanctions and suspensions, but on the more ancient principles of caring kinship and sympathy.
We believe that sanctions and suspensions will only hinder the process of restoration and reconciliation in Fiji, and the return to constitutional government.
In considering this request a few members of the Commonwealth may be outraged at the interim outcome of negotiations in Fiji. Nevertheless we are sure that most of you will understand the difficulties, and that whatever Fiji decides for Fiji, will be the best way forward for Fiji. That way forward may not be entirely satisfactory in the short term, but it will eventually bring about a satisfactory conclusion, given time and the unconditional support of friends of Fiji.
Thank you for your attention,
Yours in solidarity
Ross Nepia Himona
Link to main page on Fiji.