Fiji archbishop attacks Aust over "colonial" coup critique

Saying that Australia's democracy took centuries to overcome racism and civil war, Suva Archbishop Petero Mataca says that criticism by Fiji's neighbours of the recent coup is "condescending and a throwback to colonial times".

In a statement made public on Tuesday, Archbishop Mataca says the least Fiji can expect of these countries is their understanding of the situation in his country, according to a Radio New Zealand International report.

The Suva Archbishop says it is this lack of understanding of the dynamics of the Fiji situation and the New Zealand and Australian governments' refusal to recognise the legitimate appointment of the interim administration that is shallow and regrettable.

Reiterating the Fiji Catholic Church's opposition to the December coup, Archbishop Mataca says even before Fiji's own legal experts could declare on the legality or otherwise of the appointment of the interim government, the New Zealand and Australian governments had pronounced it illegal.

He says this is condescending and a throwback to colonial times.

However, he went on to add that he recognises and supports the view of the Fiji Law Society "that the appointment of the interim government is legitimate and legal by law".

"In this regard, I urge all citizens of goodwill to strengthen the bonds of solidarity, forged by our common experience of recent events, so that we may rebuild our beloved nation with a sense of purpose, duty and loyalty," he continued.

Archbishop Mataca added that some people in Fiji who courageously upheld the rule of law and democracy since 1987 have a different view of the latest coup in the belief that democracy was abused and circumvented long before the military ousted the Qarase government.

The Archbishop says that the Church believes in a democratic framework that upholds human dignity and equality, rights and responsibilities, the common good and the protection of the minorities and the vulnerable must be absolute.

"Our progress will be hollow if we ignore issues of social justice in the process," he concluded calling for investigation of human rights abuses during previous and present coups and for a framework of "national reconciliation".

Fiji's Roman Catholic Archbishop attacks attitude of New Zealand and Australian governments (Radio New Zealand International, 24/1/07)
2006 Fijian coup (Wikipedia)
Archbishop Petero Mataca (Wikipedia)
Suva Archdiocese (Catholic-Hierarchy)

No sanctions for Fiji, Archbishop pleads (CathNews, 15/12/06)
Fiji Archbishop calls on Catholics to fast and pray (CathNews, 6/12/06)
Catholic Church condemns coup (CathNews, 29/5/00)

25 Jan 2007

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