By: Semi Turaga
A motion calling on parliament to strongly condemn racist and derogatory comments made by SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu has been passed after strong condemnation by FijiFirst parliamentarians as well as NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad.
30 parliamentarians voted in favour of the motion while 21 voted against it.
In his right of reply, Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said these prejudices are slowly built upon year after year, month after month and day after day where it seeks to permeate through every facet of our society.
He says that is what we must stop.
He says the interventions in government in 1987 twice and 2000 was premised on the idea of ethnic differences.
Sayed-Khaiyum says when you have interventions in government which splits our society based on ethnic difference it creates a chasm.
He added that NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad has not addressed the hypocrisy that exists.
Sayed-Khaiyum says when Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu made those statements about the National Federation Party and Fiji Labour Party being vulagi parties, Prasad made an on the record statement saying how can they call us a vulagi party when we have had iTaukei members.
Sayed-Khaiyum says Prasad defended NFP MP, Lenora Qereqeretabua for not making comments but it is not about defending.
Sayed-Khaiyum says political expediency has gotten in the way and the Leader of Opposition’s rationale for that has meant that the female members of his party are unable to stand up and speak.
Sayed-Khaiyum says if members of the opposition were honest with themselves they would give themselves a moment to contemplate and do a bit of self reflection.
He says we need to make progress in our country and stand up and speak out when something as momentous as what has been done happens in our country.
Sayed-Khaiyum stresses that there are certain basic values and principles that we must always speak out against if it creates that level of anxiety in our society.
AG moves motion for parliament to condemn Bulitavu's racist statements about Indo Fijian and iTaukei women(Thursday 08/08/2019)
By: Vijay Narayan
Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has moved a motion for parliament to strongly condemn SODELPA MP, Mosese Bulitavu racist and derogatory statements about Indo Fijian and iTaukei women.
While tabling the motion, Sayed-Khaiyum says all members of the government side will speak on it.
Sayed-Khaiyum says the Leader of Opposition, Sitiveni Rabuka would know that after the 1987 coups, there was a move to have separate courts based on ethnicity and thankfully the idea was debunked. He says the issue then arose on what would happen if a iTaukei woman was raped and would ‘bulubulu’ (traditional forgiveness) be recognized by the court system. He also shared a story of a 9 year old girl who was raped by a 21 year old man and the men of the girl’s family had accepted the ‘bulubulu’. Sayed-Khaiyum says he was the prosecutor in the case and they went ahead with the trial although the Police at the time also recommended for the charges to be dropped as there was a ‘bulubulu’. He says the person was prosecuted successfully.
Sayed-Khaiyum also spoke about racial stereotyping, and gave examples including comments made by Sitiveni Rabuka after 1987.
He says governance of a state should be based on inclusiveness and common citizenry.
Sayed-Khaiyum says it is unfortunate that we now even have people justifying racial idioms.
He says idioms are also prejudice idioms.
Sayed-Khaiyum says the motion is not about creating divisions but it is about making sure we get rid of divisions and stereotypes. He says the motion is also about recognizing the fact that there are many injustices irrespective of which ethnic group we belong to.
Debate on the motion is currently underway.
It is shameful that Bulitavu still sits in parliament - PM (Thursday 08/08/2019)
By: Iva Danford
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says that if any member of FijiFirst Party made the same statement that SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu made, it would be their last day in parliament and it is shameful that he still sits in parliament.
Bainimarama highlighted this while speaking on the motion for parliament to strongly condemn Bulitavu’s racist and derogatory statements about Indo Fijian and iTaukei women.
He says that it is shameful because Bulitavu has been verbally abusing the women of his own party for years.
The Prime Minister says the women in the opposition have failed to condemn Bulitavu’s statement.
Bainimarama says Bulitavu is one of those men who thinks women belong in the kitchen making dinner rather then going to work and earning a pay cheque to support their families, and a man who believes they rank above women.
He says all these men share the same backwards mentality, they all fit into the culture of abuse in our society and they are all cowards.
Bainimarama says Bulitavu proved himself to be such a man when in response to an horrific act of violence committed against a Fijian woman, he gave voice to an ugly and an insufferable lie on social media.
Bainimarama says in the past, iTaukei people committed murder and they were perpetrators of violence.
He says there was no good intention behind Bulitavu’s post on social media as it came from a place of hate.
Bainimarama says the context in which the word Vulagi was used by Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu is what that matters when he labelled NFP and FLP vulagi parties.
He says no Fijian can be a vulagi in this country.
Rabuka says SODELPA will vote against government's motion on Bulitavu (Thursday 08/08/2019)
By: Vijay Narayan
Leader Of Opposition, Sitiveni Rabuka made it clear in parliament that he will be the only speaker from his party on government’s motion to strongly condemn SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu’s statement and he says they will vote against the motion.
Rabuka says he stands up in parliament with an equally heavy heart with those of his colleagues on the government side.
He says Bulitavu is under investigation from the Police and the DPP for possible breach of the Public Order Act.
Rabuka says breaches of the Act require the DPP to consent to and approve the laying of charges.
He says Police investigations are ongoing and the DPP has to make the decision.
The SODELPA Leader says if charges are laid, then the case will come before the court who will then decide on the matter.
Rabuka says SODELPA stands for the rule of law and the independence of the constitutional officers that have specific functions under the constitution.
He says it is therefore SODELPA’s collective position that to participate in the debate, they prejudice the rights of Bulitavu and usurp the functions of the Police, the DPP and the courts if charges are laid against Bulitavu.
Bulitavu has ripped open lasting scars of the trauma she still carries today as a domestic violence victim - Akbar (Thursday 08/08/2019)
By Semi Turaga
In a very emotional and personal speech in parliament, Minister for Education Rosy Akbar has said SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu has ripped open the lasting scars of the trauma she still carries today as a victim of domestic violence.
Akbar was in tears as she joined the FijiFirst parliamentarians in condemning racist and derogatory comments made by Bulitavu against Indo-Fijian and iTaukei women.
She said she was raised in a very abusive household where her mother suffered in silence.
Akbar says she stands in parliament with so much admiration and respect for her mother for her courage to walk out of a very abusive relationship.
She says she still recalls the day her mother left the man who they call their father - the man who was supposed to love and protect them.
Akbar says she still remembers that fateful early morning after her uncles had taken her mother away when their house got burnt down.
SODELPA MP, Mosese Bulitavu
She says they are working to ensure that every student of any ethnicity has a future that is brighter than ever before but that future cannot be achieved with the kind of darkness spread by Bulitavu.
Akbar says to spread the stigma of violence on such a public platform only serves to silence victims like her.
She stresses that abuse in any form is cowardly and so is typing racist stereotypes remarks behind a keyboard.
Prasad supports AG's motion in parliament to condemn Bulitavu's statement on iTaukei and Indo Fijian women (Thursday 08/08/2019)
By:Dhanjay Deo and Semi Turaga
The Leader of National Federation Party, Professor Biman Prasad has supported Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s motion for parliament to strongly condemn Bulitavu’s racist and derogatory statements about Indo Fijian and iTaukei women.
In doing so, Prasad says Bulitavu should hang his head in shame and publicly apologise to all women.
Prasad says as a lawyer, Bulitavu is trying to blame Indo Fijian women for murder which he claims has spread to the iTaukei community and also goes to blame the iTaukei women.
Prasad says Bulitavu did not make passing remarks or cracked a joke with a colleague but denigrated our women, mothers, sisters, Girmitiya and iTaukei mothers in rural areas.
Prasad says this motion should serve as a reminder to all of them to stop being dishonorable and that they got elected by the people and start the march forward in harmony to achieve lasting social, economic and political advancement of all people.
Prasad also urged members of the government side to concentrate on issues stressing that political parties have come and disappeared but the National Federation Party will remain the foundation of the principles of political morality.
He says it pains him to hear the politicization of the motion.
Adimaitoga calls opposition pathetic, slack and gutless for not condemning Mosese Bulitavu’s racial and sexist comments (Thursday 08/08/2019)
By: Rashika Kumar
Assistant Minister for iTaukei Affairs, Selai Adimaitoga has called the opposition pathetic, slack and gutless for not condemning Mosese Bulitavu’s racial and sexist comments.
Adimaitoga says Bulitavu is empowered by the silence of women in the opposition.
She says NFP MP Lenora Qereqeretabua is first to ‘nit pick’ every single issue but chose to remain silent.
Adimaitoga says members of parliament have a responsibility to every single Fijian and have a duty to unite every Fijian and the opposition have failed in this.
Bulitavu’s comments do not only promote racial discrimination but gender discrimination as well - Reddy (Thursday 08/08/2019)
By: Shanil Singh
Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment Dr. Mahendra Reddy says that SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu’s comments do not only promote racial discrimination but gender discrimination as well.
He says that gender equality is essential to achieve peaceful societies with full human potential and sustainable development.
Reddy says that women’s rights are human rights.
He also reminded Bulitavu that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedom regardless of their race or gender.
Reddy says that he knows the potential of women as his own mother stepped into his late father’s shoes who passed away when he was a child.
He says that he cannot accept Bulitavu’s comments that such godly figures in his family had extra-marital affairs.
He also says that no member of our society let alone a member of parliament should be allowed to make such accusations.
We must unite and jealously guard our hard fought constitutional rights to be called Fijians - O'Connor (Thursday 08/08/2019)
By: Silina Baro
We must unite and jealously guard our hard fought constitutional rights to be called Fijians despite our race, gender, ethnicity or economic status.
Assistant Minister for Health and Medical Services Alex O’Connor mentioned this in parliament while supporting the government’s motion to strongly condemn SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu’s statement.
He says Bulitavu has consciously misappropriated history to demean and incite hatred towards an entire community by criminalizing the descendants of indentured labourers and lowering the value of Indo-Fijian women.
O’Connor says stereotyping, debasement and dehumanization build racism and such comments are reminiscent of the further racist vitriol that has shaped much of our history in our struggles for common and equal citizenry.
He says not so long ago an entire community was likened to a barking dog and incidentally it is not racist according to the Opposition political parties including the National Federation Party.
O’Connor says call it by any other name, racism is racism and we cannot be selective about which acts of racism we condemn and the ones we condone.
Bulitavu carefully worded his statement to ensure maximum damage is done - Bala (Thursday 08/08/2019)
By: Iva Danford
Minister for Employment, Parveen Bala says SODELPA MP, Mosese Bulitavu has carefully worded his statement to ensure that maximum damage is done to those he has chosen to offend.
SODELPA MP, Mosese Bulitavu
While supporting the government’s motion to strongly condemn Bulitavu’s statement, Bala says we should not be under a false impression that this is a spur of the moment words.
Bala says the term Vulagi was used to divide Fijians and to brand Indo Fijians as outsiders.
He says Bulitavu should know better then to vilify Indo Fijians whose ancestors suffered during the indentured labour system.
Bhatnagar challenges women of the opposition to take a stance and condemn Bulitavu (Thursday 08/08/2019)
By: Shanil Singh
Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Veena Bhatnagar has challenged the women of the opposition to take a stance and condemn the mentality of Mosese Bulitavu.
Bhatnagar says that there are five women in the opposition who talk about empowering women but no one stood up to make a stand against Bulitavu.
She says that it is sickening the level of thoughts Bulitavu carries in his mind and adds that he should be ashamed of his statement.
Bhatnagar says that Bulitavu’s comments on iTaukei women that they should be thankful that they are not beaten by weapons or knifed suggests that Bulitavu approves of being beaten, molested or raped.
She questions Bulitavu on which traditions or customs teaches us to disrespect our own mothers and sisters.
Bhatnagar questions if this is the way we want our daughters to grow up, by accepting and forgiving every wrongdoing they have to endure.
She also condemned Bulitavu’s statement that violence against women was brought into the country by indentured labourers.
She adds that this kind of comments can lead to racial discrimination and disharmony in the country.
If our nation believes violence against women is unjustifiable on any grounds, unity is needed in Parliament - Vuniwaqa (Thursday 08/08/2019)
By: Silina Baro
If our nation is to believe that violence against women is really unjustifiable on any grounds, unity is needed in Parliament.
Minister for Women and Children Mereseini Vuniwaqa highlighted this in parliament while supporting the government’s motion to strongly condemn SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu statement.
SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu
She says sexism is discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender and primarily affects women and girls.
She says according to the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre 2010/2011 report on violence against women, 72% of women have suffered a form of violence.
Vuniwaqa says Bulitavu’s initial statement on facebook on 4th July 2019 and his official statement clarifying his position issued on the 10th of July 2019, points to a mentality that it is okay for a man to beat or kill a woman especially if she is having an affair.
She says this is a mentality which appears to accept that when men beat their spouse, it is not a crime as a traditional apology will cure it, a mentality that promotes the hideous crime of domestic violence.
Vuniwaqa also says Bulitavu’s statement on unfaithful Indo-Fijian wives and the historical record touched only on the indenture experience and nothing else.
She says even more discouraging was the deafening silence from the members of Opposition on Bulitavu’s statement that when it comes to the killing of Fijian women they have nothing to say.
She also says violence against women thrives in the stride of silence.
Vuniwaqa says as national leaders it is their duty to ensure that their voices are louder, clearer and unequivocal in condemning violence.
Bulitavu will go down in the history of Fiji as someone who has no respect for women - Kumar (Thursday 08/08/2019)
By: Dhanjay Deo
“Mosese Bulitavu will go down in the history of Fiji as someone who has no respect for women.”
Minister for Local Government, Industry and Tourism Premila Kumar made this comment in Parliament this afternoon while contributing to Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s motion for parliament to strongly condemn Bulitavu’s racist and derogatory statements about Indo Fijian and iTaukei women.
Kumar says Bulitavu’s social media post and utterances are mischievous, disrespectful and an insult to women.
Kumar says she condemns Bulitavu’s statements, not because he has attacked the women of her community but because all women belong to our community.
Premila Kumar has also hit out at Opposition women parliamentarians claiming they did not speak against Bulitavu.
Speaker states that motion to condemn Bulitavu’s statement is admissible
By: Vijay Narayan
Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has stated that the motion to condemn SODELPA MP Mosese Bulitavu’s statement is admissible and the motion does not infringe Bulitavu’s rights.
As the Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum got ready to table the motion in the last hour SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula raised a point of order saying that the motion should not be allowed as the purpose and motive of this motion is to put two communities against each other.
Nawaikula also said that it is inadmissible if the motion is passed and puts into effect being inconsistent with the rights under the constitution which deals with the right of fair trial and freedom of speech.
Nawaikula says if parliament proceeds to make a judgement it would be unfair to Bulitavu. He also raised the issue if the motion contains statement of facts that are unable to be authenticated.
He further says that there is no certainty as to who made this statement.
Speaker Ratu Epeli Nailatikau says he has sought independent legal advice if a police complaint renders the motion inadmissible. He says the motion is admissible and will continue.
Ratu Epeli says to date there have been no charges laid and the matter is not before the courts.
He also says that Mosese Bulitavu is not an arrested or detained person.
Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is now moving the motion that parliament strongly condemns the statements made or published by Mosese Bulitavu in the media, including social media.
Bulitavu said the following :
“Tovo vulagi sega ni vaka iTaukei sega ni vakarisito"
(Translation: This foreign behaviour is not iTaukei, nor Christian) Murder and stabbing in the past were only done by Fijians who are descendants of the indentured labourers from British India and was never part of Fijians who are iTaukei. Indigenous Fijians are now slowly sharing some itovo vulagi (Translation: foreign behavior).
"Keda na iTaukei eda sega ni dau veidomoni vaka tu oqo me tini ena laba. E tiko na kena itovo kei na kena ivakarau yavutaki ena vakarokoroko"
(Translation: We iTaukei do not engage in romantic relationships like this to the extent where it leads to murder. We have customs and traditions based on respect).
"Isa ko Viti"
“It is not iTaukei to murder if a relationship breaks down because we have our bulubulu custom (tradition of seeking forgiveness).”
“I was brought up in Labasa and it was common to hear an Indo‑Fijian man murder his wife if she is caught in an affair in the cane settlement.”
“These affairs are common amongst married Indo Fijian women in rural areas (A Hindustani [sic] language in Labasa “Qahtai maro” was a slang that the juri (knife emoji) is well sharpen [sic].”
“For iTaukei, assaults on women were common, given their built. In rural Vanualevu communities they use the juri (knife emoji) or patar (stone) was common with Indo‑Fijian boys when we get into a fight. But again it is uncommon or vulagi for iTaukei men to use knives or stones.”