Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama
Suva, March 17, 2019
As news of the shooting broke on Friday afternoon, it already felt close to home; many of us have friends and family in New Zealand, and the close relationship between our two nations goes beyond traditional diplomacy.
But this surreal news event quickly turned to reality, as our friends and neighbours learned through word-of-mouth that Fijians were present during the attacks.
Fijians in the Mosques
Soon, we found that Fijians were among the 50 Muslim worshippers who were so brutally slaughtered, making this heart-breaking tragedy even more personal for our nation.
Let us never forget our fallen Fijians, nor our brothers and sisters in New Zealand.
To their families, you have the support of not just your fellow Fijians and of Kiwis, but people from all around the world who are holding similar vigils to honour the innocent men, women and children who lost their lives. We are with you.
Video Clip from Fiji Government Facebook
“Do not be intimidated”
Acts of terror and terrorism, by their very nature, are meant to instill fear into the hearts of those groups who are targeted.
As difficult as it may be, try not to let these acts of hatred intimidate you; that was the goal of the coward who committed these crimes. To our Muslim community, I say this: You are safe, and you are loved.
Al too often, after a hate-filled act, we describe the crimes as “unspeakable.”
But while this shooting in Christchurch is unfathomable in both its scale and in the monstrous nature it was committed, it is not unspeakable.
Staying silent, and not speaking up, would be an injustice to the victims and to all of humanity.
We must speak up, and in light of New Zealand’s darkest day, our voice must be louder than ever. We must recognise that this type of hatred does exist in the world, and we must root it out wherever it lies.
We must be aware that acts of extreme violence often begin in the form of hateful words and divisive ways of thinking.
A strong pledge
That is why I call on all Fijians across all backgrounds and faiths to join me in making this pledge: Whenever you encounter someone who says something racist and hateful, whether it is online or in person, say something.
Do something. Have the courage to call them out, and counter their hatred with reason.
Be the voice of love. Be the voice of change. Only then will our world be rid of the evil that inspired the massacre in Christchurch.
May we all forever keep the victims in our hearts, and may their families find some peace in the embrace that the world has shown in our outpouring of compassion.
Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama is Prime Minister of Fiji. The above is a slightly edited version of his speech at an Open Prayer Meeting held today the Makoi Women’s Vocational Centre in Suva, Fiji, to mourn the death of the people and those injured in Christchurch following a massacre. Read several related stories on this website.