Haus of Khameleon Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Environment
FIJI COUNTRY VISIT BY UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Environment : Haus of Khameleon Submission December 10 , 2018 .
Dr. David R. Boyd
UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Environment
Associate Professor of Law, Policy, and Sustainability
Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability
School of Public Policy and Global Affairs
University of British Columbia
FEARS FOR THE FUTURE -TRANSGENDERS IN FIJI.
HAUS OF KHAMELEON –The Flagship Organisation For Transgenders in Fiji.
The Haus Of Khameleon, is a Transgender Led and Membered Social Justice /Advocacy Organisaton highlighting and referring Human Rights Incursions towards Transgenders in Fiji .
We would be making submissions combining the following thematic areas ; Climate change/Deforestation/Air quality/Land issues/Biodiversity – both ocean and terrestrial/ Agriculture/Mining /Water and sanitation.
DISCLAIMER : This is our observation and conclusions based on our lived experiences and realities as well as what we see and hear on the ground and read about in our mainstream Medias , both Print and Television . Social media reports also offer an alternative country-wide view, though we are cognisant of its shortfalls especially Fake News.
TRANSGENDER DISCRIMINATION – OUR REALITY ,STILL
With “unmeasured/unstudied /unquantified ” though visible and FELT, marginalisation , discrimination , hatred , violence and murder of Transgenders in Fiji , we are apprehensive and fearful of how we will be received and treated by our Society in times of Climate Disaster /Natural Disasters .
Fiji, through the Bainimarama Government’s 12 year rule from 2006 till 2018 , with a further 4 years now till 2022 ( total of 16 years rule ) is at a crossroad between endeavoring to morph into a DEVELOPED Nation like Singapore ( often mentioned by our Prime Minister +Attorney General ) , and trying to preserve our Natural Flora and Fauna , pristine beaches , clean rivers , unpolluted air etc etc.
We the Transgenders are aware of the many Development Projects in Fiji , that attract foreign revenue , promise to create meaningful and gainful employment and boost our economy , with projected improvements in living standards and GDP. We are also aware that most , if not all developments disturb , change and destroy our pristine rivers and waterways , oceans and corals , mangrove swamps , clean water supply and breathable air .
CLIMATE OF FEAR
People in Fiji are enveloped in a Climate Of Fear that stems from torture , killings and instant job terminations of high profile citizens , since the 2006 Coup . Many civilians died from torture and brutality at the hands of security forces in the ensuing years following the coup . People who speak out are visited at their homes by Police and taken in for questioning. Criminals on the run are brutalized and a few died in Police Custody .
A 19 year old boy named Sakiusa Rabaka out on a night of fun plus four of his friends in Nadi on January 24 , 2007 were detained at Black Rock , a Military facility in Nadi . Their crime was smoking marijuana and they were tortured and beaten until one of them lost consciousness . Another boy was then forced to perform oral sex on his unconscious friend . Upon release Rabaka died of his injuries a few days later . The RFMF attempted to frustrate the criminal investigation into this incident and refused to allow Police to interview the 8 Military Officers suspected of involvement . The police then lost the file , necessitating that much of the investigations be redone. The DPP ultimately charged 8 RFMF soldiers and one police officer with murder , at which point the RFMF tried to send them abroad on a UN Peace Keeping Mission. The attempt was nearly successful with only a last minute intervention resulting in the accused being asked to de-board a UN Chartered plane at the Nadi Airport .
The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) was established on 4 April 2007 , charged with fighting corruption in the Public Sector . Big Businesses were targeted with huge Tax penalties and Executive Officers of Government Allied Organizations accused of corruption were instantly terminated without notice , and forced into a long court process.
FICAC was quickly seen as a way Government punishes anyone who question its affairs. Many of these cases were ultimately acquitted years later , but the suffering and damage done to the individuals and their families were immense and very public . Now its a common talking point that any businessman that oppose Government , will be audited by the tax-man and roped into FICAC.
Unsurprisingly, there is fear to question the Environmental impacts of Government projects. Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) that are truly Independent and trustworthy are difficult to ascertain and verify. Public consultations , that are integral components of an EIA are not heard of . These processes tend to be rushed often benefiting Big Companies and Investment interests. Opposition parties highlight the high level of Government debt . Government boasts to be the first government spending a huge amount on Roads , Airports and Infrastructure development . Our fear is that Government is rushing these projects that destroy our pristine environment , to balance its books. In addition Government is accused of Vote Buying prior to the 2018 General Elections by literally giving away Free Cash to citizens in what Opposition terms “Freebies”.
This Climate of fear is indoctrinated and permanent in Citizens psyche .People who demand proper EIA’s for Environmental Destructive projects , fear victimization from the State and self-censor themselves in silence.
CULPRIT DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS .
BAUXITE MINING IN BUA :
Mining started in Bua, Vanua Levu , in 2011 by Chinese Company , Xinfa Aurum Exploration with a total earning to date , of $F50.6 Million. The soil is shipped to China en-masse for processing. Mining still continues today. Villagers claimed State Victimisation , forcing them to agree and sign on the dotted line leasing their land to the Chinese . When it rains Red soil drench the rivers and estuaries ending up in the ocean as a Red Tide. Villages reported a decline in Marine resources like fish , mussels and shellfish . Reassurances from the Ministry Of Environment that the “Red Ocean” phenomenon is NOT environmentally destructive , but its without qualified studies to the fact .
The Waisoi Project in Namosi started in October 2015 .It is a copper and gold mining project in the pre-feasibility phase right now . Its a joint venture between three companies , Newcrest (Fiji_Ltds , Mitsubishi Materials Corporation and Nittetsu Mining Company. Namosi Youths are opposing this project .We fear that soon the State will prevail and mining will start , destroying the famous prisitine waterways of Namosi, filled with freshwater delicacies that contribute to peoples food security. Floodwaters have already contaminated streams from this exploration site during a recent flooding at the site .
DREDGING OF THE SIGATOKA RIVER MOUTH
Was started in 2017 by China Railway First Group with the excuse of relieving flooding up river. Later it was realized that this Company was also doing mining explorations to find minerals and ores that could be harvested . The Prisitine estuaries and land near the river mouth , that used to attract picnickers and swimmers , was completely destroyed by muddy soil . The company recently stopped work and left their rusting equipments and debris behind, that litter the river mouth till today .
RAISING THE MONASAVU HYDRODAM WEIR.
In 2015, Fiji Electricity Authority, now called Energy Fiji Ltd , the sole provider of electricity in Fiji, raised the Wainisavulevu weir by 8 meters amidst questionable EIA reports .Environmentalists , Nature Fiji Mareqeti Viti ( NFMV) claim the EIA was not done to standard and the project will flood more forests , that are responsible for the cloud cover needed to balance Vitilevu’s climate .
The environmentalists and the Fiji Times Newspaper that carried the story were attacked and vilified by Government as they concluded that loss of cloud cover would lessen rainfall and cause more drought on Vitilevu . The Western Division are now regularly suffering Droughts that are longer and more vicious then previous years.
MANGROVE HAVEN ,NAWI ISLAND IN SAVUSAVU BAY BULLDOZED.
Savusavu’s Nawi island facing the harbor lagoon , has been bulldozed to build a Marina early this year 2018 . Debate is ongoing as to why the mangroves were sacrificed for this project .
Mangrove swamps near all urban centers in Fiji , continue to be sacrificed for development .
ASTRONOMICAL GROUND WATER BOTTLING .
Fiji Water has been extracting ground water in Yaqara since 1996 .With water shortages all over the world it’s a fear that these unmonitored extractions will contribute to water scarcity on Western Vitilevu . To date there are al least 2 other New Water Bottling companies in Fiji ,and we wonder if soon our ground water will dry up .
RIVER TOXIC INDUSTRIAL DISCHARGE
Lautoka City foreshore regularly is covered by a Blue Dye , which no one seem to know the source . Ba river regularly discoloured with dead fish washing ashore and Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC ) is blamed for discharging toxic waste into the river . The same story is true in Labasa’s Qawa River that has turned foul from FSC’s chronic discharge into the river .
VUNATO RUBBISH DUMP FIRES , LAUTOKA CITY.
In December 2017 , this Rubbish Dump on the outskirts of Lautoka City burned for 5 days straight spewing toxic fumes into the suburban residential areas of the City. This is not a new problem , in fact this dump has been a sore sight and stinking shame for more then a decade , but nothing has been done .
REGULAR FLOODINGS OF NADI/BA/RAKIRAKI TOWNS
Floodings of these towns in Fiji has been a constant reality for the past 5 years and no one seem to know what to blame and what do do . Deforestations in the mountains , Poor Town Planning and Drainage , Climate Change Higher then normal rainfalls and shallow Outlet River mouths have been proposed as CAUSES . Citizens suffer loss of Homes , White Goods and Furnitures and the financial cost that come with that , adding onto the burden of Poverty , Unemployment and Homelessness .
A few days ago the Attorney General was in the news awarding a Japanese Company the task to save Nadi Town from floodings. We wait with baited breaths.
These are some of the Environmental happenings in Fiji that Haus Of Khameleon is closely watching with trepidation .
CLIMATE CHANGE / STRONGER CYCLONES /RISING SEA LEVELS /DWINDLING FISH AND SHELLFISH STOCKS /VILLAGES RELOCATED INLAND /LOSS OF FARMLAND /RURAL URBAN DRIFT /CLIMATE REFUGEES.
Transgenders share these concerns with the rest of the population .
When Environmental Disasters or Natural Disasters happen in Fiji , we Transgenders are vulnerable due to the prevalent reality of discrimination and Non-acceptance in Fijian Society . In a report carried out by a local LGBTIQ Organization titled “Down By The River”, 30 trangenders shared their experiences during Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016. First they couldn’t get into evacuations centers due to their fear of discrimination and weathered the height of Cyclone Winston inside a toilet open to the elements . They were also discriminated against during Governments Cyclone Relief Ration distribution after the Cyclone .
So this is our FEAR - Where will we go and Who will ensure our safety during Natural Disasters? To date there are still no state regulation or law that safeguards Transgenders during disasters in Fiji and our safety in these tumultuous times of Climate Change and frequent Natural Disasters, is not guaranteed .
Ideally Evacuation Centers should have a Separate Designated area with good security for LGBTIQ people and should be adopted as a Regulation/SOP for the relevant Ministry looking after Disaster Relief .
If Fiji does not balance the urge to rapidly DEVELOP the Nation with Environment Protection, focusing rather on the short-term lucrative gains in Government Revenue, Improving the numbers in Employment Figures , and political point scoring, an Environmental Calamity awaits .
And the whole Nation suffers .
Presenter : Dr Leli Darling .
Phone: +679 83 11161