3 Nov 2003

Fiji senator shocked at being told not to speak on indigenous issues

7:29 am on 3 November 2003

A Fiji Labour Party senator has expressed shock that she was told not to speak on indigenous Fijian issues because she is not indigenous herself.

Senator Atu Emberson-Bain says she also has serious concerns about personal abuse directed at her.

She says the Senate must respect her right as a member of the Upper House to engage in legitimate debate on matters concerning the people of the country.

Her comments followed remarks by a senator appointed by the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu George Cakobau, that she should stop raising the plight of the mainly indigenous women workers of the state-owned tuna factory because she was not Fijian herself.

Ratu George said the Un Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples says they have the right to determine their own economic, social and cultural development without external interference.