Prime Minister Hon Sitiveni Rabuka today took the lead as he was joined by national leaders who sought forgiveness at this afternoon’s Reconciliation Service that was organized by the Methodist Church of Fiji.
In an emotional speech, Prime Minister Rabuka said he had sought forgiveness 36 years ago for the actions of those who supported the takeover.
As the first Girmit Day celebrations culminates in celebration tomorrow, the Prime Minister told those present; “I am not making this confession on behalf of the vanua of Navatu or the government, but on behalf of myself and those who took part with me in the military coup in 1987.
“I pray that God will empower us to forgive each one and no longer carry that burden of hate and anger as we move forward from today.
“Reconciliation can never be successful if the two parties to be reconciled do not agree.
“The power to forgive is beyond our human power. The power to forgive is Godly,” Prime Minister Rabuka said.
The Reconciliation Service was attended by people from all walks of life including members of the diplomatic corps, cabinet ministers, members of the Methodist Church of Fiji and descendants of the Girimitiya’s.
Former Prime Minister and Leader of the Fiji Labour Party, Mahendra Chaudhry acknowledged the work of the Methodist Church of Fiji.
He hailed the Thanksgiving and Reconciliation service as a historic and momentous occasion in the history of our nation urging everyone to be part of the healing process and peacebuilding.
“I accept that apologies and utterances of remorse are part of the healing process and thus necessary. But it must not just end there with a one-off ceremony. We must look to the future and take concrete measures to prevent coups and other forms of political violence from ever again destroying the fabric of our society,” said Mr Chaudhry.
“I once again thank you Sir and members of the Methodist Church for your magnanimous gesture. We are deeply honored and touched by it.
“We can all work together. It’s a great day for the nation, a day worth celebrating. It will go down well in the anals of our history, let’s build on it,” Mr Chaudry added.
Mr Chaudhry and Prime Minister Rabuka joined Deputy Prime Minister Hon Biman Prasad; the Marama Bale Na Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Kepa; representatives of the Turaga Vunivalu na Tui Kaba, Ratu Epenisa Cakobau; President of the Methodist Church of Fiji, Reverend Ili Vunisuwai; Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, representatives of the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, Shree Sanatan Dharm Fiji and, Ahmadiya Muslim; and Rev Epeli Ratabacaca of the ANCF.
The Forward Fiji Declaration affirms the commitment and the responsibility to work towards a peaceful, united and prosperous Fiji.
Vice President of the Methodist Church of Fiji, Rev. Joji Qaranivalu concluded today’s reconciliation service by urging the nation be committed to upholding the principles of justice, equality, and human rights for all citizens.
“Let us celebrate our diversity as a source of strength, not a cause for division. And let us move forward together, in the spirit of unity, harmony, and reconciliation, knowing that “the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100:5),” Rev. Qaranivalu said.