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Friday 4 September 2015 | Published in Regional


Veteran reporter of news in the Pacific, Michael Field, has shed some light on the recent news of a festering rebellion in the northern hills of Fiji’s Viti Levu.

On his online news comment blog, Field has posted a photograph of a group of Fijians who he says are the people behind the rebellion that Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has vowed to “crush”.

“These are the people giving Fiji supremo Voreqe Bainimarama disturbed sleep,” Field blogs. “ They call themselves Ministers of the Nadroga Navosa Sovereign Christian State – one of two reputed new nations in the Fiji Islands.

“Most of the people in the photo are now sitting in Fiji jails on charges of sedition and causing unrest.

“The man in the wheel chair, former politician Osea Gavidi, has recently died.

The woman in orange sitting beside him, Oni Kirwin, is living in Australia and has been put on Fiji’s immigration black list. Bainimarama is rather frightened of her.”

The group is known for short as the Ra Nation, based on what the people in the photo, taken from Oni Kirwin’s Facebook site, call the Uluda Declaration.

Mount Uluda, an 866 metre peak in the Nakauvadra Range, is ironically the source of Fiji Water, one of the nation’s iconic export products.

According to legend, Degei – Fiji’s serpent god that created the world, fruit and men – is said to reside in the caves of Cibaciba and Drakulu on Mt Uluda, Field blogs.

“Degie is in the business of judging men, sending some to heaven while others were thrown into a lake. He is an old testament style god, given to destroying crops and creating floods, keen on wiping mankind out.

“In keeping with the general tone, the area was also the home of the 19th Century Udre Udre –a cannibal king said to have consumed 872 people. Others say 999. He was of the view that if he ate one thousand bodies he would become immortal.”

Field says Oni Kirwin is now running the Ra Nation, “charging around Viti Levu holding meetings with assorted characters”.

Field continues: “The new state she created has had a number of founding events. The significant one, according to Oni Kirwin, took place on November 4 in Cuvu, just west of Sigatoka and near the Shangri–la Fijian Resort.

“She says she swore in her cabinet, just like the recently departed Vice President Jopi Seniloli did with the Speight gang in 2000 and was sent to jail for sedition.

“Osea Gavidi, 71, was named as the new president. But he died on April 3 this year.

“The new cabinet passed the Nadroga-Navosa Constitution with ten commandments. It was ratified (Kirwin does not say what she means with this legalese) in Naevuevu, up in the mountains above Sigatoka.

“Kirwin left Fiji last November and, rather grandly, informed the United Nations and Queen Elizabeth II of the existence of the Ra Nation. She seems to have received no reply.

“She says she has applied to the International Court of Justice for recognition. The body’s website has not recorded the correspondence.

“Kirwin had some new flags for the state stitched up in Australia. With a sense of drama, she had them smuggled into Fiji and they were raised over two “autonomous Christian states” in Cuvu and in Rakiraki on April 10.

“Kirwin claims that as no one ripped the flags down for seven days the flags are now accepted as the standard for the respective autonomous Christian states they represent, ‘pursuant to international conventions on state flags’.

“There is no international convention on flags other than that which applies to registration of ships,” Field points out.

Kirwin says she is running things from Australia, talking daily to the two new governments.

“Otherwise get the hell out of the way and keep your big mouths shut!” she advises on her Facebook site.

“This work, is for the lions, not pussies! This work is for men, not poofters!”

Fiji’s prime minister has promised to jail the dissidents, including those based overseas, who he claims have been plotting to overthrow his government.

About 70 people have now been arrested and charged with sedition over recent months, Fiji media has reported.

Bainimarama has publicly vowed to crush any attempt at insurrection.

He said that those allegedly plotting against the country included “certain high profile figures in Australia”, with out referring to Oni Kirwin by name.

His comments came after Immigration Department director Nemani Vuniwaqa confirmed to the Fiji Sun that Bainimarama had banned Australian-based Fiji-born Mereoni Kirwin from entering the country because she was “in attempts to form a so-called Christian state in the provinces of Ra and Nadroga”.

The following are extracts from the Uluda Declaration:

“Our right to self determination is asserted on the basis that we are ethnic peoples, first nation peoples of Fiji and therefore sovereign people of this land, owning all the lands and resources in this country and by law, able to utilise our group rights in pursuit of our basic right to life and pursue peace and prosperity for ourselves and for our generations to come.

“The decision to unilaterally breakaway has been forced upon us by the oppressive, dictatorial and tyrannical nature of the Bainimarama-Khaiyum regime, which has been introduced into Fiji by statutory stealth under duress of the barrel of the gun.

“This regime is bent on a perverse form of social engineering which employs constitutionally enshrined laws of mainstreaming with which it enforces intensive assimilation that selects only the native Fijian race as its target group.

“The objective of the regime is to turn native Fijian people into their nirvana concept of a polity of equality, whereby the state owns everything and all citizens of Fiji are robots, devoid of soul and humanity, unilaterally succumbing to the will of the state for the transformation of both, land and its people into their ultimate dream of a “modern-progressive-Fiji.

“We people of Nadroga-Navosa and Ra reject outright the 2013 Constitution which Khaiyum himself wrote without consulting the citizens of Fiji, or assembling a Constitutional Convention of Fiji’s citizen-stakeholders, or getting the views and submissions from the citizens of Fiji, or involving the citizens of Fiji in any part of its writing or in its ultimate endorsement and adoption.”

Journalist Field told Cook Islands News that these kind of insurrections have coloured Pacific history for decades – and many of them have a semi-religious basis.

“The most extreme version was that led by Francis Ona when in 1988 he led a campaign for Bougainville’s independence from Papua New Guinea. It was in opposition to the large Rio Tinto copper mine on the island. The following civil war cost tens of thousands of lives.

“The new movement in Fiji is also citing objection to a planned copper mine in Fiji.

“Shortly before independence in Vanuatu in 1980, a religious cult, Nagriamel, led by Jimmy Stevens, declared a break-away state on Espiritu Santo. It took the combined efforts of the PNG Defence Force, the Royal Marines and the French Foreign Legion to end the insurrection.

“Fiji has also suffered several bizarre breakway movements on its Polynesian island of Rotuma.

“Even Kiribati has seen a separatist movement on the mine devastated island of Banaba, and had to use police and tear gas to end the uprising.

He said the Ra Nation movement should be taken seriously.

“I think it is serious. The Pacific is full of these kind of movements that can cause big trouble.”