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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Published

10 October 2021

Author

Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Themes

NGOCHR PR: Fiji Day 2021 10/10/2021

NGOCHR PRESS RELEASE: Fiji Day 2021

10/10/2021

One year after commemorating 50 years of Fiji’s independence, the NGO Coalition on Human Rights (NGOCHR) calls for greater reflection and a stock-take of the challenges that remain around human rights and values, democracy and the rule of law  in the country. 

How have we progressed as a nation in terms of the recognition and protection of people’s basic human rights and freedoms?

All forms of human rights violations and disrespect of fundamental freedoms are on the rise. The data on violence against women and girls, people with disability, the LGBTIQ and other vulnerable groups continue to rise through the years. Violence is in our homes, communities and spilling out onto our streets as we have seen recently. Who is to feel safe in this situation? 

Legislations have been enforced without consultation that limit the rights of the people and affect day to day living. The victimisation of and bullying tactics on Fijian citizens who raise their concerns relating to any so-called government ‘initiative’ through media and social media platforms continue. Amnesty International Report 2020/2021 states that Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Assembly are being suppressed in Fiji, enforced by arrests and hefty fines. How are we protecting our defenders?

We are being hoodwinked into believing that as a nation we are progressing, as never before, economically and told to not believe the empirical evidence that suggests otherwise. The 2019-2020 Household and Income Expenditure Survey reported that 192,977 iTaukei, 58,933 Indo Fijians and 6,143 from the ‘Others’ population live in absolute poverty. The survey report that was released recently details the extent of poverty in the country - 3 out of 10 people in Fiji were living in poverty between 2019-2020. This cannot be progress?

Apart from job loss and economic downturn, the COVID-19 pandemic has also exposed gaps in our public healthcare system. It is indeed with a lot of external assistance that our plagued healthcare system, which has deteriorated progressively over the years, has managed to cope with the impact of the pandemic. More than 1,000 COVID-19 positive people have died and are still dying. How do we as a nation cope with this sad loss of lives?

The Coalition stresses the need to look back on our journey as a nation and address the underlying issues that have plagued us throughout the decades. Stop ignoring the plight and concerns of the people.

The government has ratified international conventions on freedoms and rights and the Coalition urges the state to be accountable to these promises and lead in the practice of the values that are enshrined in our Bill of Rights - equality, fairness, respect and dignity.

As Fiji slowly begins to come out of a long drawn lockdown and makes efforts towards economic recovery, the Coalition hopes that our leaders also take into account their responsibility in ensuring that our people’s basic human rights are protected.

The NGOCHR envisions a Fiji free of discrimination and human rights violations and abuse, where good governance and democracy prevail upholding each and everyone’s rights and human dignity. 

We wish everyone a reflective Fiji Day 2021.

 Ends.

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