Fiji has experienced and continues to experience a high level of political instability with four coups just over 20 years. CCF believes that a primary root cause of this instability is a lack of understanding among the people of Fiji of good governance, their rights as citizens, and the importance and benefits of multicultural society.
CCF has therefore chosen for this reason three provinces of Naitasiri, Tailevu and Ra as focus of CCF community education work for the last three years, 2009-2011. These three provinces were selected because residents of the provinces were identified as being active in the political events of 2000.
Our education team has conducted on average over 70 workshops during the survey period and over 780 people were subjects of the survey. While the survey shows that significant ground has been made through our advocacy program to change attitudes on issues of good governance, human rights and citizenship, it also validates the need for continued advocacy on the three issues in order to build an inclusive society which acts responsibly and recognizes the rights of all.
Views and opinions gathered from people during the survey also highlight the difficulties in allaying the concerns of people when it comes to human rights, equality and good governance.
For example, the survey reveals that many people in the i-Taukei communities are still not ready to accept that all citizens are now called Fijians as there is a sense of fear, based on misconceptions and misinformation, that this somehow could diminish the status or take away the rights of the i-Taukei and some even think that their land resources could be taken away from them.
“Scratching the Surface” also shows that many people do not or are hesitant to question the actions of their leaders and demand accountability while others feel that Human Rights conflict with traditional and cultural rights.
It is vital that stakeholders who conduct civic education on the overarching principles of human rights can effectively monitor and evaluate the impacts and outputs of their education programs to be able to pinpoint areas which require further work in the process of nation building.
Since April 2009 expression of views or problems has been undermined by media censorship and continuing restriction on public expression of views has not helped the breaking of the culture of silence amongst both i-Taukei and Indo-Fijians target groups. CCF has each time had to obtain police permits to conduct these numerous workshops.
Minimal number of both target and control group have taken the opportunity to contact leaders about problems or to express views.
The return to representative parliamentary democracy by 2014 should also make a difference in opening up more opportunities for interaction and good governance practices.
Thank you for listening.
Rev. Akuila Yabaki