Rabuka Needs to Tell the Whole Coup Story


By Arvind Kumar

AUCKLAND (Pacific Scoop / Pacific Media Watch): Almost 25 years after committing treason by carrying out a military coup against a democraticallyelected government, Major-General Sitiveni Rabuka recently apologised to the Fiji public.
He was sorry, he told the Fiji public- and the world – for the “wrongs” which began at the barrel of the gun at 10am on May 14, 1987, as Parliament met for the day. Then a lieutenant-colonel, Rabuka and his armed henchmen marched into Parliament and took the multicultural government of Dr Timoci Bavadra into captivity.

The event sent ripples around the South Pacific and the world. The moment marked the death of “democratic” rule in the island nation best known for its friendly people and its white, sandy beaches.

Riots and looting followed in the streets of the capital Suva. The rioters: mostly young indigenous Fijians storming the streets to “celebrate” the inauspicious event. The target: the Indian community – rich or poor, man or woman.

Another coup followed on September 25, and Rabuka went on the serve two terms as elected Prime Minister after constitutional change.

In Auckland, Rabuka’s apology was labelled “too little, too late” by the Coalition for Democracy in Fiji spokesman Nikhil Naidu.

“We have already forgiven him for destroying our lives,” Naidu said.

Mass exodus
Strong words indeed.

Thousands of Indians had begun began a mass exodus from Fiji to places where their rights would not be suppressed at the point of the gun.

Rabuka’s apology has brought back painful memories for the thousands of Indians living in Fiji and abroad.

Would they have ever left the country if things hadn’t changed? No.

Naidu is right to point out that Rabuka’s apology is incomplete without him revealing the plotters behind the coups – the thousands of the mainly Indian community deserve to know.

I, personally, newly married just months earlier, felt robbed of happiness in what should have been the happiest days of my life.

As a young journalist at the Fiji Sun, I was subjected to service in the newsroom as young “trigger-happy” soldiers stood behind us with the guns pointed at our heads. Not to mention the riot where I was punched in the head by unknowns as the company driver drove me home on the day of the coup, nor the moment my father burst into tears the moment he learned I had been bashed.

Emergency laws
I had never seen my father cry before. I had never seen a gun in my life either, let alone an AK-47.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama recently eased emergency laws which have governed the country for the past five years.

As Naidu pointed out, a step in the right direction, but nothing to celebrate about.

Why the apology now when Rabuka knows full well that his actions of 1987 have resulted in the population of Indians in Fiji plummeting from more than 50 per cent to just over 30 per cent now?

Is it the comforting thought that Indians – the very people the coups were carried out against – are no longer a threat as far as political domination is concerned?

Or is it the fact that elections are drawing close and the coup pioneer has aspirations for office?

Does the apology mean that he will attempt to right the wrongs he did in 1987?

Exposé needed
Does Rabuka feel that his apology will stop other aspiring Rabukas and Bainimaramas carrying out coups in the future? Was Bainimarama inspired by Rabuka’s coups?

Whatever the case, the fact is that indigenous Fijian rights have never been under threat from any other race as they were always enshrined in the 1970 Constitution.

Rabuka needs to tell all and expose the people behind his coups to redeem himself and ease the hurt of those affected by his actions; only then can the people of Fiji move forward with optimism.

Arvind Kumar is online editor of the Auckland-based Indian Weekender. 

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SOE said…
Rabuka owes it to posterity (his and ours) to tell:

"The Truth, the Whole Truth and nothing but the Truth so help him, God".

A full page advertisement of apology might have been more seemly? Surely, such an important declaration deserves no less?
Anonymous said…
Rabuka continues to make an annual pilgrimage to the US Congress Prayer Breakfast, schmoozing with equally dubious politicians and just returned from the 2012 event.
These associations do give credence to some stories that the US was behind the 1987 coup or at least played a significant part, due to their fear of the deposed Labour Government, policies stated that would prevent US ships from visiting Fiji waters.
Romeo said…
Rambo's apology is not sincere if he does not tell all by naming all those involved. He has a moral responsibility to the nation to do so and thus help put an end to the devil that he unleashed upon Fiji in 1987.

I recall him telling us that God told him to do it (coup) and there was 'No Other Way' etc. He is now saying that it was wrong, implying that what God told him was wrong...thou shall not use God's name in vain.

If only he had listened to his immediate superior in the Army to stay neutral and let political forces resolve the issue, Fiji would not have sufferred so much. I note that in his New Year apology he did at least mention that person by name.

Rambo is apologetic but is still not prepared to pay for his crime by doing the time. He needs to come out from the immunity he is still hiding under and submit himself to the court of law and do the time if need be. By doing this and naming all those involved who atively plotted and supported him will he find peace and redemption.
Anonymous said…
Oh please, Rabuka has given four different accounts for 87 and several different stories about why he was wearing his uniform at the "Lets Kill Frank" mutiny in 2000 ... I don't think even he knows which one is the "truth" now.
Which version is the truth? said…
@ Anonymous on 'Telling the Truth..and versions of it'

Well, it is time to find out which version is the substantive, truthful version. Not knowing, is part of the dysfunction and paralysis.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous 11:27, let me see if I got this right -- the U.S. must have been involved because Rabuka still attends the annual prayer breakfast in Washington? And this was all because the U.S. was worried it might not be allowed ship visits to Fiji?

How do you explain, then, the Section 7008 sanctions imposed by Washington since the 2006 coup, which automatically prevent U.S. ship visits to Fiji? Washington was so worried about losing ship visits in this corner of the world that it conspired to overthrow the democratically-elected government, and yet it now imposes such a restriction on itself?

I don't see much evidence of Washington interest in ship visits to Fiji, even though the regime is negotiating basing rights with the Russians in Vanua Levu.

s/ Dakuwaqa

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