Racism is a serious problem in Fiji. This assessment was made in the Fiji Human Rights Practises Report for 2003 prepared by State Department of the United States for the US Congress.
It clearly highlights that an ethnic divide exists between the two major political parties, the ruling SDL and FLP. The report further states that on several occasions, members of parliament made racist remarks against Indo-Fijians. It further mentions that eviction of Indo-Fijians by the indigenous Fijians is continuing.
Religion has been sighted as a reason for racial antagonism and political issue. It states that the pre-dominant Methodist Church features strongly in Fiji’s politics and due to their alliance with political parties demand for a Christian State.
While releasing the report yesterday, US Ambassador David Lyons said it was more positive than in previous years, as reported by the daily Fiji Times.
The report reveals that there has been much improvement in Fiji since the despicable hostage-taking and prolonged political crisis of 2000 that led to the dismissal of Prime Minister Chaudhry’s government and so badly damaged Fiji’s economy. Mr Lyons said that it is not a co-incidence that the year 2003 also witnessed strong economic growth in Fiji as well as positive steps towards social justice.
He further said that these reports pull no punches and often include critical, even harsh, information on countries that are close allies of the United States, thus are often seen as highly valued reference tool for governments, international organisations and NGOs.
Despite all this, there is still an underlying current of racism and injustice in the country which needs urgent attention for the prosperity of the nation.