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By Arieta Vakasukawaqa in Suva

Opposition National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad has questioned the motive of the FijiFirst government to continuously highlight the 1987 coup during the girmit celebrations while refusing to mention the devastation brought about by the 2000 and 2006 coups on Fijians.

He highlighted this issue during a rally in Tadevo, Navua, on Saturday.

“They are talking about 1987 coup which happened 35 years ago, but they never mention anything about the 2000 and 2006 coup,” Professor Prasad said.

“They are talking about the 1987 coup because they want to stoke fear in the minds of people, especially on the Fijians of Indian descent voters.

Professor Prasad said the government should also apologise to the family of the late Professor Brij Lal for banning him from the country of his birth and who died at his home in Brisbane, Australia, last year.

“Every government minister and every government member in the FijiFirst party, if they have any shame left in every girmit function that they organise, they should apologise to the family of late Professor Lal and to all the descendants of the girmitya in this country on how they brutally banned him from Fiji.”

He said it was hypocritical for the Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts Premila Kumar and other senior government officials to be parading and giving speeches about the struggles of Fijians of India descent, yet forget the extremely shameful act of banning the historian who had written everything on girmit about Fijians of Indian descent.

“It’s obvious they are using the situation to campaign for the next general elections by highlighting what happened in 1987 and forgetting what happened in 2000 how people were terrorised, forgetting who was a RFMF commander at that time, forgetting the 2006 coup, how many people including women were brutally treated by those were in power at that time,” he said.

Professor Prasad said the girmitya would be “turning in their graves looking at how the shameless government used this occasion for a political gimmick”.

Questions sent to Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama remained unanswered when this edition went to press.

Arieta Vakasukawaqa is a Fiji Times reporter. Republished with permission.

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