Postdate: 30/ 11/ 2007
Fiji Times/Fiji Sun
During the terror stricken days following the May 1987 military coup, the Fiji Times published a letter of mine in which I gave a heart-rending reflection on the state of the nation. I mused that every time we shrug when we hear of another midnight raid, the cries of terrorized women and children and a squad of military making their power felt without any regard for human decency, then somewhere in Fiji another potential Claus Barbie was getting a start in life.
The trial of Claus Barbie known as “the butcher of Lyons” and one of the last Nazi war criminals was then underway in Lyons, France. In Fiji the first Military coup of May 14th 1987 and its aftermath was unfolding. Today, 20 years later, the drama continues to unfold. Fiji has since had two or three military backed overthrow of democratically elected governments.
In this school prize giving season, as I read about Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and Savenaca Draunidalo, once a high rank military officer, giving out school prizes, I cannot help thinking that these two leaders came from a military background and simply by their manner of speaking would uphold values of militarism before the eyes of our children. Militarism denotes a doctrine or system that values war and accords primacy in state and society to the armed forces. It exalts the application of violence and an institutional structure – the military establishment. It implies both a policy orientation and power relationship.
CCF supports the people’s charter process because amongst other things, it offers the opportunity for political dialogue on the kind of society which we want Fiji to become. We cannot undo the events of December 5, 2006 but could we on the anniversary of yet another military takeover, take stock of the downward spiral of this country?
It is not difficult to find specious justification for the injustices which have been committed by those who have held the reins of power. Militarism is not consistent for instance, with the dominant interpretation of Christian doctrine but there are those who view military force as a necessary evil in a fallen world. But these are hard questions which need to be addressed in building a better small island state.
Akuila D. Yabaki