Chiefs Signed Despite Advice

Chiefs were among those who ignored legal advice and signed the Mereoni (Oni) Kirwin document calling for the return of Fiji to the chiefs, it has been revealed. Suva lawyer
01 Sep 2015 10:35
Chiefs Signed Despite Advice
Mereoni (Oni) Kirwin.

Chiefs were among those who ignored legal advice and signed the Mereoni (Oni) Kirwin document calling for the return of Fiji to the chiefs, it has been revealed.

Suva lawyer Adi Litia Qionibaravi made the disclosure in an email to the ACS Old Girls Association to set the record straight about social media claims that she was Ms Kirwin’s point of contact here.

Her close associates say the claims are part of a smear campaign by some involved in the SODELPA controversy to discredit her. Adi Litia is a senior SODELPA member who has given legal advice to the party.

She has drawn up proposed amendments to SODELPA’s constitution to be discussed at the party’s annual general meeting in Suva on Saturday.

These amendments would strengthen the role of party president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.

Adi Litia denied any part in the formation of the so-called Christian Sovereign States.

Adi Litia said in the email: “Ladies, I can only conclude that the desperate attempts  to link my name to the formation of the Ra and Nadroga Sovereign Christian States,  have been made by some who are trying to save themselves from arrest over the sedition incidents in Ra and Nadroga. The Truth Shall Prevail,”  she said.

“It is no secret that I am a firm supporter and advocate for Indigenous Fijian interests but this is not a crime.   It is also publicly known that I am a strong advocate for the Rule of Law. I am always extra careful that in all that I do, that I do not associate ACSOGA in it.

“I would like to confirm with you all that  I had never accompanied Mereoni Kirwin to the Ra nor the Nadroga chiefs wherein their Christian States were formed. I was never a party to persuading or misleading the chiefs to form their own separate Christian States.

“Nevertheless, I feel for the way these chiefs have been treated and  you may also be aware that a fellow old girl, Vucu Gavidi, is part of the chiefs arrested in Nadroga.

“We can only hope and trust that the Fiji Human Rights Commission can investigate the breaches of their human rights and to seek redress on their behalf.

“I never knew Mereoni Kirwin until she was introduced to me around May 2014.  I later knew that she had been a regular visitor from her adopted country of citizenship, Australia to Fiji, since 2009 trying to fight against the mainstreaming of indigenous Fijians in Fiji.

“A letter was to have been taken by Mereoni to raise the concerns of the descendants of the chiefs who had ceded Fiji to Great Britain about the return of independence to the State instead of returning Fiji to the chiefs of Fiji.

“At a meeting, where Mereoni Kirwin had briefed the chiefs of her intentions, I in fact had advised the chiefs that some of the matters raised were very sensitive issues and that just as the colonial Government after cession had strongly resisted the dissident chiefs of the interior Viti Levu, I had advised in everyone’s presence that the Chiefs needed to express wisdom and foresight and that they needed to be careful that they themselves do not bring the total demise of the chiefly system forever in Fiji. Despite this advice, the chiefs at the meeting still signed.” She did not name the chiefs.

It is believed that Ms Kirwin used the signed document as the basis for the setting up of the so-called Christian Sovereign states in Ra, Nadroga and Navosa.

Ms Kirwin came to Fiji in May last year.

She stayed with the widow of a late reverend in a Christian church. It was through the widow, that Ms Kirwin linked up with a high-ranking SODELPA figure who assembled the descendants of the 1874 chiefs who signed the Deed of Cession to sign a letter to endorse Ms Kirwin’s move.

The SODELPA figure then asked Adi Litia if Ms Kirwin could accompany her to the Bose Vanua o’ Cakaudrove in Somosomo for Tui Cakau, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, to sign the document in question.

An independent source who was present said Ratu Naiqama was advised by Adi Litia on the legal implications of showing support to Ms Kirwin’s efforts. As a result he did not sign. He is a descendant of the Tui Cakau that signed the Deed of Cession. In her presentation, to the Bose Vanua o’ Cakaudrove Ms Kirwin urged the people to rise up against the Bainimarama Government.

Ratu Naiqama thanked her after her presentation and told her the province of Cakaudrove would follow the democratic path to fight Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s ideologies ( through the electoral system)

Ms Kirwin travelled in and out of the country trying to organise a province to show disaffection against the Bainimarama Government by declaring independence. The signed document by the chiefs and others, Ms Kirwin claimed, was to be presented to the International Court of Justice before the general election in September last year. There is no evidence it has been done.

Ms Kirwin then linked up with Ratu Osea Gavidi in Cuvu, Nadroga, to establish the so-called Christian state government. The SODELPA figure then contacted prominent Nadroga leaders to support the new movement. Another person was sent to Ra to do the same thing.

Questions are now being asked whether proceeds from a recent party  fundraising dinner, which collected $7000 were diverted to pay for the legal fees of those facing sedition charges. Three failed SODELPA candidates in the election are among those charged.

A party worker has just returned from Australia organising fund raising there  to help in the legal cost.



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