Speech at the Launch of Enduring Hope

Speech at the Launch of ‘Enduring Hope’
Wednesday, 21 July 2010

By Tessa Mackenzie, Chair, Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF)

Members of the diplomatic corps,
Government representatives,
Representatives of civil society organisations,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen.

The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum warmly welcomes you to the launch of our short film to promote racial harmony and tolerance, titled ‘Enduring Hope’. This is the first time that CCF has produced a film to promote multiculturalism.

In 2007, CCF produced a documentary on the Right to an Adequate Living Standard. It focused on the lives of those living in informal (or squatter) settlements and showed how living in poverty affects peoples’ ability to realise their human rights.

In 2008, CCF produced a radio play titled ‘The Ex-Prisoner’ which educated on the Right to be Free from Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment. This radio play could not be aired due to sensitive times.

In 2009, CCF produced a radio play titled ‘The Looting’ which was based on acts of discrimination that occurred in Muaniweni in the year 2000. It was about racism and the right to security of person and property. This was successfully aired in the English, Fijian and Hindi languages.

And over the past two years, including the past few days, I hope you will have heard our radio adverts, seen our television advertisement and read our supplementary pages in the newspapers promoting human rights issues and good governance principles.

We remain committed to advocacy and education towards our aim of building a nation in which we all live together in equality, justice and peace and this short film represents a significant milestone in our ongoing work.

I would like now to express CCF’s appreciation and acknowledge the partnership and support of the European Union which has made the production of this short film possible.

CCF’s work

CCF came into being about 17 years ago as a response to the 1990 Constitution, and we began as a group of concerned citizens who advocated for constitutional revision. Although the 1997 Constitution was not perfect it provided a basis for good governance and had excellent human rights provisions, and we have over subsequent years, committed ourselves to working for multiculturalism, good governance and human rights.

Because of Fiji’s unique identity and diversity of peoples and cultures, we in CCF remain committed to promoting the message that all should be treated equally. Our diversity is a richness that we embrace and respect. CCF continues to bring this message of hope to all levels from the international halls of the UN to the villages in the remote places of Fiji and with this movie on our roadshow soon to the various major urban centres.

Our work with the UN has seen us continue to make submissions to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, or CERD, since 2002, to document racially discriminatory events and to encourage government to act to rectify wrongdoings. We have also continued to make submissions to the government and international bodies against legislations which may be discriminatory.

In 2006, we produced a beautiful book, ‘Let’s All Celebrate’ to promote multiculturalism, racial harmony and tolerance.

In 2007, CCF gave its support to, and actively participated in the National Council for Building a Better Fiji. We worked with different stakeholders in Fiji in the NCBBF working groups to try and find a way forward for Fiji. I know this made us unpopular in some circles, but we feel that engagement and dialogue is a positive approach to our nation’s problems.

Currently, we are implementing a three-year project called ‘Strengthening Fiji’s Democracy’. Through this, we are continuing our main work, which is to educate and advocate on good governance, human rights and multiculturalism in Fiji.

The Way Forward

Dialogue is an important tool in addressing ethno-political conflict in Fiji, but it will only work if there is a genuine commitment by all.

Without an ongoing commitment from all to engage in an open, inclusive and fair dialogue process, the underlying conflicts will prevail in Fiji. We believe that through dialogue, we can bring people together and we all can help reconcile Fiji with its past history of ethnic and political conflict, which this film clearly depicts.

I now handover to Larry Thomas who will speak on the production of the film, which I guess means he may share with us some of the ups and downs of creating this – our first CCF film ‘Enduring Hope’.

ENDS

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