10 Jan 2003

Fiji Indians plea for international help at New Delhi conference

4:20 pm on 10 January 2003

The Leader of the Fiji Labour party is urging ethnic Indians around the world to come to the aid of those of their community who are repressed.

Mahendra Chaudhry made the appeal at a conference in New Delhi of representatives of Indian communities from more than 100 countries.

He says Fiji's Indians are landless and defenceless and deprived of their constitutional rights.

He says they face statutory discrimination and are denied security and police protection in a situation of seriously declining law and order.

Mr Chaudhry says Fiji's Indians have suffered three racially motivated military coups against democratically elected governments in the last 15 years.

However, the Fiji government representative at the conference, the Multi - Ethnic Affairs Minister, George Shiu Raj, says it is not the appropriate forum for grandstanding and political discussions.

He says he will urge the international Indian community not to be misled by Mr Chaudhry's claim that life for Fiji's Indians is a constant struggle for economic, political and human rights.

Mr Shiu Raj said external political interference would only harm ethnic cooperation and not help Fiji's Indians.