The Director of Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Ashwin Raj has clarified that the Permanent Representative to the UN and other offices in Geneva, Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan did not use the word caste during her presentation at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Fijivillage has received the actual statement made by Khan and she said that it must be noted that racism was institutionalised in Fiji to such an extent that it instilled in a privileged class a sense of entitlement based on ethnicity and class, and that racist attitudes were engrained in all communities, which have resulted in mistrust, resentment and suspicion.
Ashwin Raj who was also at the Geneva meeting says that Ambassador Khan never used the word “caste” as has been reported by the NFP and SODELPA and uncritically reproduced by the Fiji Times, Radio New Zealand and the ABC amongst various other social media platforms.
Raj says Khan actually used the word “class”.
He says the string of racist, sexist and bigoted comments following the NFPs post on Facebook is a sad indictment of the fact that racism and prejudice is alive and thriving.
Raj says extremely derogatory things have been said and continue to be said about the Ambassadors ethnicity, her gender, and her religion and the NFP did not even once intervene in the barrage of these attacks which are simply unconstitutional.
Raj says that not only did they selectively focus on the issue of racism, they also deliberately distorted what was said about racism to suite their own political agenda.
The Human Rights Commission Director further says that Ambassador Khan never apportioned the charge of racism to a single community. Raj says that Khan actually said “...racist attitudes were engrained in all communities”.
Ashwin Raj also says that there was institutionalised racism in Fiji.
Raj also says that people who are saying that there was no racism of this form in the country should go out and talk to the affected people.
When Fijivillage contacted the Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa, she said that she has no knowledge at hand on Nazhat Shameem Khan’s statement at the 34th Council of Human Rights.
SODELPA Vice President Ro Kiniviliame Kiliraki earlier said that Nazhat Shameem Khan’s statement smacks of prejudice and a deliberate misunderstanding of the grievances of the indigenous community of Fiji, and is contrary to the position in international law on the rights of indigenous people.
Kiliraki also called for her resignation.
We will speak to NFP Leader Biman Prasad today.