After the Storm of 2000: Fiji's Troubled Path Toward Justice and Reconciliation
Kevin C Chang
Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney
SUSTAINING A RESILIENT ASIA PACIFIC COMMUNITY, Wilmar Salim & Kiran Sagoo, eds., Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008
In the wake of Fiji's coup d'état of 2000, which unleashed an unprecedented level of violence and destruction to the country, the people of Fiji demanded a process of national reconciliation to heal the wounds of the past and build a more peaceful future. Fiji's troubled path to reconciliation has been marked by its failure to address issues of justice that lie at the heart of reconciliation: bringing to account perpetrators of violence; providing just reparation for victims; ensuring fair and equitable social and economic participation; and creating an opportunity for the country's communities to learn from its recent history of violence.
The reconciliation process promoted by Laisenia Qarase's SDL Coalition Government was heavily politicised and cosmetic. It was conducted without clear goals and outcomes, and devoid of widespread and meaningful participation from Fiji's communities. Furthermore, with its unwavering support of the objectives of the coup and its protection of coup perpetrators, the government's interference in the justice system undermined the gains made through the conviction of several high-profile political figures.
Fiji's reconciliation process was also doomed because it was not advanced alongside a process that promoted greater peace and democratisation. The military takeover of December 2006, which will only further set back Fiji's struggles with democratic governance and the rule of law, is directly related to the country's failure to deal with issues of justice and criminal accountability from its recent past. Unless the cycle of impunity is broken and the country's deep-rooted issues are dispassionately confronted, Fiji's quest for reconciliation and justice will likely remain hollow objectives and elusive goals for the foreseeable future.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 25
Keywords: Reconciliation, Post-Conflict, Peacebuilding, Transitional Justice, Fiji, Laisenia Qarase, Mahendra Chaudhry, Frank Bainimarama, Indo-Fijian, Indigenous Fijian, Coup d'Etat, Reparation, Democratisation, Justice, Politics, Human Rights, Racial Discimination
JEL Classification: J7, K33, N47, N4, N40, D63, D7, D74
Date posted: May 25, 2008 ; Last revised: May 1, 2015