The heads of two of the 3 tribal confederacies in Fiji, Tovata and Burebasaga, Ratu Naiqama Tawake Lalabalavu & Adi Teimumu Kepa, met on 17th August 2013 and called for, amongst other things , the current regime in Fiji to honour it's treaty obligation to native Fijians.
The meeting was hosted by the "Ka Levu" of Nadroga Ratu Sakiusa Makutu.
In the "absence" of Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs, which the military regime reckon they terminated by Decree in 2010, the heads of Fijis three tribal confederacies still carry the mandate to speak for Fijis native population & communities or the "Vanua" .
The appointment of the head of the Kubuna confederacy is still under protocol but the two high chiefs that were present invoked their traditional authority to also speak for him when they signed a document " the Yanuca Letter", at the end of their meeting.
The "Yanuca Letter" has called for the resolution of the rights & interest of native Fijians in accordance with international conventions & treaties including the ILO Convention 169 & the 2007 UN Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples(UNDRIP).
Specifically they called for the restoration of Fiji's Great Council Of Chiefs that is protected under these conventions & which was established by the Deed of Cession of 1874 and for dialogue with the military dictatorship for that purpose.
Native Fijians make up 57% of Fiji's population but the current regime has expressly stated its intention to remove customary institutions including Fiji's great Council of Chiefs
Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu , paramount chief of Cakaudrove & head of the Tovata tribal confederacy & Adi Teimumu Kepa , paramount chief of Rewa & head of Burebasaga tribal confederacy also supported the call by the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation( WIPO) for indigenous Fijians to have more say on the use of their intellectual property .
This is widely seen as a direct rejoinder to Fiji Airways to follow customary protocol to obtain the consent of native Fijians and their chiefs before it uses the Masi motif as its emblem.
We the undersigned High Chiefs at Yanuca Island Nadroga, on Saturday, 17th of August 2013 resolve to:
- Lend our unified support for the Vitivou Forum and the Fiji Native Tribal Congress as civil society organizations to be their representative bodies advocating for the group rights of indigenous Fijians at both national and international levels;
- Support the call by the United Nations Commissioner of the Human Rights for countries to do more to honor and strengthen their treaties with indigenous peoples and the call by the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that indigenous peoples should have a greater say and control on the use of their intellectual property;
- Pursue the concerns of indigenous Fijians as enriched under the ILO Convention 169 and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to the United Nations and open, sincere and cordial dialogue with the Bainimarama Government be established;
- To send a Chiefly delegation to represent the interests of Indigenous Fijians at the world council of Indigenous peoples to be held in 2014 at the United Nations;
- Confirm our extreme concern with the absence of the GCC from the 2013 draft constitution and its absence from governance of this nation;
- Express our commitment to ensuring the institutions of the respective Chiefs and their Vanua continue to have national presence as enshrined to under the Deed of Cession in 1874 and widely recognized under international law and conventions, in order to safeguard and guarantee the cultural heritage of future generations of indigenous Fijians; and
- Resolve to uphold a multi-cultural Fiji where the rights of our resident communities peacefully co-exist whilst reaffirming our commitment specifically to ILO Convention 169 and the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.
Signed : 17/08/2013
Ro Teimumu KepaNa Gone Marama bale na Roko Tui Dreketi,
Paramount Chief of Rewa Province and Head of Burebasaga confederacy.
Ratu Naiqama Tawake Lalabalavu
Na Gone Turaga bale Na Tui Cakau, Paramount Chief of Cakaudrove Province and Head of Tovata Confederacy
Ratu Sakiusa Makutu
Na Gone Turaga bale Na Kalevu, Paramount Chief of Nadroga and Navosa Province