BY CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER: SARA BULUTANI
CCF is a leading NGO that works on raising awareness on multiculturalism and elimination of racial discrimination in Fiji. We believe to address and eliminate racial discrimination in Fiji, we need to talk about it and bring it to the surface to be addressed like how the issue of domestic violence and climate change is taking the centre stage in Fiji at the moment.
Ethnicity is still an issue in Fiji and will always be because we are a nation of diverse ethnicities. Racism has been side- lined as a sensitive or taboo subject in Fiji. We are still a long way to ensure a genuine co-existence between different ethnic groups for a sustainable peaceful island nation. It is evident in our day to day lives when racial smirks are passed on to an individual or group of another ethnic group. Any incorrect framing of speech or statement on the issue often creates discussions.
Ethnic division and racial discrimination in Fiji lies on the will of our national leaders and government to address it. It will be always an issue if leaders are not genuine in addressing racial discrimination. Worse still, if leaders come up with reforms and policies under the façade of equality without consulting those that will be affected than racism will always emerge. Far too long, the issue of racism has been centred on I-Taukei and the Fijians of Indian descendants. Other minority groups such as those of Solomon descendants, Chinese descendants, Banabanas, and others are left out along with their needs and issues. It is therefore critical that when we talk about elimination of racial discrimination and promoting equality, we have to ensure that the Rights of the Indigenous people and the Rights of the Minority Groups have recognition.
As Secretariat of the ICERD Working Group, CCF at this juncture is formulating the Shadow Report on the International Conventional on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). We are urging the Government to expedite its submission of the State Report to the CERD Committee in Geneva. Our failure to do so is an indication of our weak commitment to address racism at home.
Our failure to genuinely address racism in Fiji will allow the reoccurrence of issues such as bullying in schools and the workplace, economic deprivation, poverty, hatred towards another ethnic group, and socio-political and economic instability for generations to come. It is a problem that Fiji needs to address as a nation, starting from the homes of every citizen to the national level debates and forums.