Fiji Labour Party Leader Mahendra Chaudhry says today marks another black day in the history of Fiji as it marks the 23rd anniversary of the May 19, 2000 coup where the Labour-led government was seized at gunpoint and members of his Cabinet, including women Ministers, held captive in Parliament for up to 56 days.
Remembering that dark day, Chaudhry says they were held at gunpoint, tortured, humiliated, threatened and assaulted while in captivity.
He says the entire nation was plunged into months of uncertainty, mayhem and violence as a result of the terrorist activities of the rebel groups.
Chaudhry says last week’s occasion of the Girmit celebrations, during a historic Thanksgiving and Reconciliation Service on Sunday, the President of the Methodist Church, Reverend Ili Vunisuwai, apologised to the descendants of the Girmitiyas for the coups executed against them in 1987 and 2000 and the role the church played in these.
He says Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka also apologised, in his personal capacity, for the coups of 1987 and the suffering he caused as a result.
The former Prime Minister accepted the apologies on behalf of the Girmitiyas, saying that although the apologies and regrets were a necessary part of the healing process, the matter should not end there.
He adds as a way forward, he sought the establishment of an independent institution to deal with race relations, where grievances of the various communities could be addressed and looked into so as to create a better understanding between our diverse communities.
Chaudhry says going into the future, Fijians must take concrete steps to prevent such treasonous acts from ever again wrecking the nation and destroying Fiji’s national harmony.
He adds an institute along the lines proposed would go a long way in fostering better understanding, acceptance and tolerance among Fiji’s peoples.
The FLP Leader has urged the coalition government to give this serious thought and to act on it as soon as possible to promote the vision of the “peaceful, united and prosperous Fiji” envisaged at Sunday’s Thanksgiving and Reconciliation Service.
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