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Apart from visitors posting comments in the guestbook of this site, we also occasionally receive letters by e-mail or snail. They will be published on this page. Our respective reply, if any, is in cursive text.

 

  Please find attached a collection of articles I have been writing for Australian Indian newspaper Indian Link, in its Girmit Link page which I compile for them. leading up to the 126th aaniversary of Girmit Divas, you may find it appropriate to put these articles on your website for your readers benefit. If you think fit I can send you my monthly articles for future updates. I would like to mention that I get a number of regular enquries about my Milaap-Discover Your Indian Roots project from people all over the world.  I m also sending you link to an Indian Diaspora website started in India, www.theindiandiaspora.com

Satish Rai
E-mail of 11 May 2005

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  The Reconciliation and Unity Bill is more of Qarase's trickery

The Fiji government's underhand methods at undermining law and order are surfacing again with its attempts to free imprisoned traitors and other lawbreakers, the Movement for Democracy in Fiji said yesterday.

MDF chairman Raymond Croxon QC said the so-called Reconciliation and Unity Bill was a thinly-disguised ruse to subvert the decision of the courts and of the people of Fiji, and to release criminals such as Speight and his cohorts who brought so much pain, suffering and disrepute to Fiji.

"It will neither reconcile nor unite the people of Fiji, not that the Government has made any attempt to do, so far," he said.

"What it will do is to reduce even further any confidence people have in the institutions of the state.

"It shows the arrogance of this government that despite the massive opposition to this trickery, from all sides of political, cultural and public life, the Qarase government insists on this attempt at whole-scale deception of both the people of Fiji and of international opinion.

"Qarase may not like it, but it bears repeating that he was Speight's first choice for Prime Minister in the tumultuous days of May 2000 before some degree of law and order was imposed," Mr Croxon said.

E-mail of 20 May 2005
from Movement for Democracy in Fiji
11 Capelands New Ash Green Kent DA3 8LG ENGLAND
Web Site: http://www.fijidemocracy.co.uk

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  Welcome for equality policy

The Labour Party's new gender equality policy has been hailed as a major step forward in Fiji's attempts to develop a fair and harmonious society.

The Movement for Democracy in Fiji said that what was especially welcome was that there was no racial discrimination in the new policy.

"The benefits apply to all women, regardless of race or creed, as our Constitution exhorts us to do," a spokesman said. "It also does not depend on hierarchy or social status."

The reserving of parliamentary constituencies where Labour candidates will be women guarantees that women will have a much better chance of being elected to the House of Representatives.

"The fact that a large proportion of these seats will be what are usually termed safe seats illustrates the party's commitment to ensuring its policy will have a real effect beyond mere words."

"The proposal for a Gender Commission brings into sharp focus the benefit of an independent body that will encourage, supervise, and direct efforts to ensure that Constitutional and legislative aims bear fruit," the spokesman said. "This is important because striving for equality should be meaningful for our people, not just nice words for the eyes of international observers."

E-mail of 24 October 2004
from Movement for Democracy in Fiji
11 Capelands New Ash Green Kent DA3 8LG ENGLAND
Web Site: http://www.fijidemocracy.co.uk

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  A multilingual, multiracial Fiji

The Movement for Democracy in Fiji has welcomed the beginnings of a debate on the status of the Fijian language in Fiji.

"Fijian should have a special, important place in Fiji society," MDF chairman Dr Yusuf Roshan said. "This is something we have supported previously and will continue to do."

"In discussions of this sort, it is important to remember that while other languages may have massive support around the world (for imperial or other reasons), Fijian is a small language that needs to be looked after so it does not drown in the rough waters of a fast-moving world."

"Whether it should be made compulsory for everyone to learn Fijian should be a matter of deep consultation," Dr Roshan said.

"It is quite likely that the biggest opposition will come from those who find the special and unique role of the language in traditional and social spheres being eroded.

"We must be careful of our reasons for pushing an idea. If it is done for the purpose of humiliation, or as proof of ethnic supremacy, it may not be a good idea," Dr Roshan said.

"We should consider other methods of persuasion," he said. "It may be that a good knowledge of the language could be a prerequisite for special loans or for even for particular types of land leases.

"It may even be an idea to allow special deals for people who can speak two languages other than English.

"It should not be beyond the ken of our political and community leaders to develop ways of encouraging multilingualism," Dr Roshan said.

"A good start has been made. Our nations future demands that we continue to consider where it can lead."

E-mail of 16 October 2004
from Movement for Democracy in Fiji
11 Capelands New Ash Green Kent DA3 8LG ENGLAND
Web Site: http://www.fijidemocracy.co.uk

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  Kaitani loses his cool - Minister launches mad tirade at democracy group

THE Minister for Information in Fiji has launched a comical, intemperate, and sometimes incredible, attack on a pro-democracy group that had questioned the value of the reconciliation ceremonies in Suva this week.

Along with others, the Movement for Democracy in Fiji had raised doubts as to whether the reconciliation attempts would work, taking into account the way they had been organised and the people taking central roles in them.

In his rant, complete with mis-spellings and bad grammar, Minister Simione Kaitani gave a picture of himself and his Ministry as out-of-control zealots. Worse, it seemed the Minister gave little or no thought to the impression he was giving (to foreign diplomats and government officials and ministers) of the nation and government they are meant to represent.

The simple contradictions of Minister Kaitanis diatribe illustrated an unschooled mind, one that had difficulty coping with anything more than slightly complicated reasoning.

In obvious contrast to the former diplomat and civil servant Poseci Bune whom he quotes in his outburst, Minister Kaitani comes across  whether deliberately or otherwise  as coarse, loutish, and ill-mannered.

For a politician, Minister Kaitani showed a total inability to engage in debate and argument, seemingly believing that falling back on invective would suffice at the high level of government he is supposed to operate at.

In a truly hilarious conclusion, Minister Kaitani takes on the role of an exorcist and, describing his critics as "undesirable spirits", urges them out to "be cast into the lake of hell".

The Movement of Democracy said Minister Kaitani needs quickly understand that in a democratic world, which he strongly believes in, there is room for argument and discussion and reason.

NB: For the full text of his diatribe, please do look at our website.

E-mail of 9 October 2004
from Movement for Democracy in Fiji
11 Capelands New Ash Green Kent DA3 8LG ENGLAND
Web Site: http://www.fijidemocracy.co.uk
President: Raymond Croxon QC Secretary/Treasurer: K Bhagwandeen,
Chairman: Dr Y Roshan Human Rights Co-ordinator: Mrs A Bhagwandeen, Spearheading Legal Issues on Fiji: Norman Patterson (Barrister) Administrative Board Member of the European Institute for Asian Study (Think Tank of European Members of Parliament): Surur Hoda Information/Media: Vimal Madhavan

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  (click on thumbnail to enlarge the invitation letter)

Ms. Ana Vesikula
Ministry of National Reconciliation & Unity
Govt. of Fiji
Suva.

Dear Ana,

Greetings.

Today around 5pm I received your letter, dated 3rd October 2004, inviting me to attend a traditional apology ceremony offered by the Vanua Ai Sokula and the Tui Cakau and the Vanua Matanikutu and the Turaga Qaranivalu, today 4th October at 9am.

Because it was a letter addressed to me by name, I believe it is in order for me to respond, though the invitation came much too late for it to be effective.

I must say I was moved by the content of the letter. You very ably described the significance of Matanigasau; I share the sentiments and do endorse your statement that it takes courage to admit that one has done wrong and for one to seek restitution and a restoration of the broken relationships. I note and accept wholeheartedly the sacredness of the Matanigasau ceremony.

There are, however, a few matters of which I am not too sure.

First, I notice that the traditional apology is by the whole of two Vanua’s, these being the Ai Sokula and Matanikutu. I myself come from a greater area which overlaps with the Vanua Ai Sokula. In the area where I was born, and with which I still maintain very strong ties, I have come across entire communities which have not wronged me or my family, or the nation. I know of numerous people from Vanua Ai Sokula, as well as from the Vanua Matanikutu, who have not wronged me or my family. Of course, there were numerous individuals from these areas, who may or may not have used their traditional positions to rally some others around them, who did me, my family, my government and the nation great, and in some ways perhaps irreparable, harm.

In this context, the question which I ask myself is on the relevance of a traditional apology from the entire Vanua, of which numerous, nay I presume a vast majority, of the people did neither me, nor my family, nor the government which I was a part of, nor the nation, any harm. I would like to be convinced that an apology from the entire Vanua is an appropriate course of action. For, if this was the case, then the presumption is that the entire Vanua is responsible for the misdeeds of a few. I sincerely believe that this is a wrong premise to begin from. An apology from the Vanua is different in content from one saying that the Vanua would be apologising on behalf of a few miscreants. If it was the latter, then perhaps the ceremony could make more sense. Please enlighten me on whether your interpretation of Matanigasau accords with my understanding of this sacred ceremony.

Second, I am willing to concede that some of those who participated in bringing harm and hurt to the nation are now willing to repent. However, I am not at all convinced that it should take a state-institution to force these people to offer a traditional apology. For me, an apology would make more sense if it came without any state interference. Fiji is a very small society. I would have seen an apology as being more meaningful and sincere if those individuals who participated in the terrorist activities themselves took the initiative to seek repentance.

The state sponsored ceremony, I feel, undermines the sacredness of the traditional ceremony. The ‘sacredness’ comes from a willing heart; not from a body which is pressured by the state to participate.

I would have thought that if there was to be any sincere repentance and atonement, there should have been a process of dialogue and discussion, leading, ultimately, to the ceremony. Instead, I see all of a sudden, some dates set and an invitation sent for me to attend a ceremony – no greetings, no discussion, no dialogue, no conversation, no discourse to get the process going. It seems too mechanical for me to be convinced that there is a sincere and genuine motivation towards repentance and healing. Please convince me otherwise. Or please facilitate the information to the perpetrators of the violence on the society and terrorism in the country, to convince me that the gesture is sincere.

Third, while the state is sponsoring this traditional ceremony, I see the state acting totally contrary to the spirit of the sacred ceremony. Over the last 4 years, and with equal intensity even during the last few months, I have seen an abundance of venon of hatred being spit by numerous state functionaries, not the least of whom is the Prime Minister himself, who has gone on record as stating that people like me, of ethnic Indian origin, ought not to seek legal and political equality with another who has his/her origins in indigenity. Such hatred for people of ethnic Indian origin, emanating from a small group of people who currently occupy positions of influence in the state machinery, brings disrepute to a whole group of people, a vast majority of who are, in my experience and understanding, truly loving, caring, God-fearing decent citizens of the country and members of the Vanua.

The question, then, is whether the priorities of the state institutions involved in sponsoring the traditional ceremony, are misplaced. Should not the institutions concerned first focus on eliminating the hatred, envy and ignorance from the hearts and minds of this small but powerful group of state functionaries? Should not, then, the first thing be that such people accept that we all, irrespective of ethnicity, class, creed or gender, are equal citizens of this country; citizens who all wish to live peacefully and in harmony with each other; citizens who all seek a truly united Fiji for all?

Trust me, a lot of such thoughts have occupied my mind for much of my mature life, beginning in 1987. I come to the conclusion that there is a sincere need for reconciliation, of apology, whether traditional or modern, or seeking restitution, of working towards a restoration of burnt and broken relationships. But this is a process which ought to be started with dialogue with those who have been victims of the violence and the hatred. It can not be achieved and concluded by suddenly declaring a week of prayer, funded by the state, where one is commanded to attend to a ceremony of apology.

If I have been too forthright, please forgive me. But these are the thoughts which came through me when I read your letter this evening. I thought that I should write a response immediately – for I wanted my heart to speak….

I look forward to a continuing dialogue with you on this matter.

I am copying this response to the media - so that my views remain not hidden from any.

Regards.

Ganesh Chand

E-mail of 5 October 2004

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Empty gestures of reconciliation

Fiji's leaders should hang their heads in shame for the way they have organised this week's so-called reconciliation ceremonies, according to a democracy supporters' group.

The Movement for Democracy in Fiji said the biggest slap in the face of Fiji's culture and society was the decision to have two leaders of the upheavals of 2000 to lead the reconciliation.

"These men are on trial at present. They have refused to accept responsibility that they did anything wrong in the violence and threats directed against law-abiding people who were left defenceless and unprotected by the forces that should have been protecting them," the MDF Chairman, Raymond Croxon QC, said.

"How can they show true contrition - a major step towards reconciliation - if they do not accept they did anything wrong?" Mr Croxon asked.

He also questioned how true reconciliation could work if the ceremonies were being held at Albert Park.

"What the Government needs to do is to go out to where the people are, where the crimes were committed against people, and see what type of reconciliation those people want," Mr Croxon said.

"There is also a practical reason for this. How many people will be able to afford to travel all the way to Suva for these ceremonies?

"It is a mistake this government has often made, to think that it is only the people who live in Suva and nearby islands who matter.

"This is not true. The violence and terror that benefited the people presently in power was perpetrated against different communities and in different parts of the country. It was directed against people of all races and religions.

"The lip service and empty gestures that the Qarase government is indulging in will not help in the long-term healing process that our nation needs," Mr Croxon said.

E-mail of 4 October 2004
from Movement for Democracy in Fiji
11 Capelands New Ash Green Kent DA3 8LG ENGLAND
Web Site: http://www.fijidemocracy.co.uk

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Bar Rabuka, US urged

THE Movement for Democracy in Fiji is maintaining its action in trying to get some sort of punishment for coup leaders who have escaped judicial penalties in Fiji.

After its success in focusing attention on attempts to get Brigadier-general Sitiveni Rabuka appointed as ambassador to the US, the MDF is now trying to block the Brigadier's plans to visit the US.

In a letter to David Lyon, the US Ambassador to Fiji, MDF chairman pointed out how Brigadier-general Rabuka had brought violence to the Pacific.

It urged the US authorities to institute some penalty in a situation where the perpetrators had given themselves refuge from the law by pardoning themselves.

The chairman, Yusuf Roshan, said that by refusing a visa to Brigadier-general Rabuka, the US would signal strong support for Fiji's democratic institutions, especially at a time when they are most needed.

E-mail of 27 September 2004
from Movement for Democracy in Fiji
11 Capelands New Ash Green Kent DA3 8LG ENGLAND
Web Site: http://www.fijidemocracy.co.uk
President: Raymond Croxon QC Secretary/Treasurer: K Bhagwandeen,
Chairman: Dr Y Roshan Human Rights Co-ordinator: Mrs A Bhagwandeen, Spearheading Legal Issues on Fiji: Norman Patterson (Barrister) Administrative Board Member of the European Institute for Asian Study (Think Tank of European Members of Parliament): Surur Hoda Information/Media: Vimal Madhavan

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My name is Anne Holvey and I work for the British Royal Mint. I am currently researching to produce a Commemorative gold coin in conjunction with the Government of Fiji which will mark the 125th Anniversary of the first indenture labourers reaching Fiji from India.

It is our intention to include the ship 'Leonidas' in the design of the coin, but I am having difficulty finding an image of the ship we can use as reference.

Do you have any good images of this ship that we may be able to use, or alternatively can you recommend some other organisation that may be able to help.
6 May 2004

We had similar problems in getting a picture. Ultimately, we have scanned a picture from a book. It is available in PhotoShop format at 300dpi. I am sending you a TIFF in the same resolution.

I have spoken this morning with the director of the National Archives of Fiji (from where we scanned the image). He will check with the Fiji Museum by Thurday, if they have a picture. We will let you know this Friday the outcome.

Another alternative is Caines Jannif, Fiji's oldest company for photos (colorscan@connect.com.fj). And, finally, there is the oldest newspaper of Fiji, the "Fiji Times", which was founded in 1869 (www.fijitimes.com). They might have a photo in their archive.

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Namaste, Vanakkam, Bonjour,

Congratulations for your site.

I am a French webmaster. My site is about Indian cultures in Reunion Island (Indian Ocean). I would be glad to have contacts with you and start contacts betwenn Reunion Indians and Fiji Indians.

Please send me a note.
Warm regards !
Philippe Pratx pratxp@yahoo.fr 
"Indes réunionnaises" - http://www.chez.com/indereunion 
28 April 2004

 

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Dear Fiji indian family,

Here in Guadeloupe, French West Indies, we are also commemorating
this year, 150 years of the arrival of over 40,OOO indentured workers
brought by the French.

Congratulations on the launch of your website that makes us aware of
the great, dejecting scattering...

Most of it is in French, but please note that our web effort on our
commemoration is here
http://www.palli.ch/~kapeskreyol/ki_nov/inde/actu.html
Noteworthingly, the google translation machine can help.

Any person interested in discussion, exchanges, contacts, can email me !

J.S. Sharad Sahai
sharad@ais.gp
28/4/2004

 

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Namaskaar,

Congratulations on the launch of your new website. I am specially happy about this initiative as a researcher and documentary film maker. My special research area is Discover Your Indian Roots, on which I have produced two documentary films already. The first one-Milaap Discover your Indian Roots was launched in Fiji during India Week in last year. For the second one I was sponsored by the Government of India Tourist office to shoot in India yearly this year. The film Milaap-A Royal Discovery is now complete.

I have noticed that some of the letters to you sought information about tracing roots in India. I have some knowledge regarding this. During India week I ran information sessions and managed assist some 60 people to obtained copies of their ancestors' immigration passes from the National Achieves of Fiji. I have handed over copies of these passes to the Discover Your Indian Roots project in Uttar Pradesh in India. If you so wish, you may direct requests for assistance regarding search for Indian roots to me. I may be able to assist some of them.

Pls see the attachment for more information about Milaap Project.
Kind Regards

Satish C. Rai
28/4/2004

 

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We extend our congratulations and best wishes to you and the group of creative Fijians involved in the inauguration and launching of www.fijigirmit.org to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Indians in Fiji.

www.fijigirmit.org is a very comprehensive site, and we welcome such an initiative that will be very useful to Fijian persons of Indian origin living in Fiji and elsewhere. This site can also be a very good example to PIOs of other countries who are currently considering similar sites for the benefit of their fellow PIOs.

I am sending this information to GOPIO President Inder Singh and GOPIO Chairman Dr Thomas Abraham so that www.fijigirmit.org would be included in the next GOPIO newsletter and given due promotion by GOPIO.

We are pleased to see this type of PIO activity in Fiji and other PIO countries. We encourage and support the efforts that have been initiated and look forward a successful and useful site for all Fijian PIOs. I will pass this information to others as well.

With kind regards and best wishes,
Ashook Ramsaran
Secretary General
GOPIO Int'l.
23/4/2004 

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Dear Sir/Madam,

I am a british born Indian of Fijian Indian parentage. It is my sincere wish to relocate to India and be able to claim my heritage. Unfortunately, I will be unable to do so until I can offer proof of passage of one of my great grandparents. I have been seeking this information a long time and only fell upon your site this evening. please kindly let me know if you can help me as I am unaware of what records you hold or where I should be looking.

In kind anticipation

Lata Lakhan
21/4/2004

Sorry, we can't help you with this. Our organisation has no funding (yet). Your task is not impossible but it definitely takes time. This is what Dr. Brij Lal's new book says about this emigration passes to India: ..."Subsequently they were transferred to the National Archives of Fiji where a full set of 60,965 of the originals is available in some 240 large folios. The National Library of Australia has a copy of all the Passes on microfilm and these were used in my research." So you would have to travel to Fiji to search for yourself. Sorry for not being able of more help.

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