Government by the Gun: The Unfinished Business of Fiji's 2000 Coup

This text gives an account of the extraordinary and long drawn out events of George Speight's 2000 coup in Fiji. It is comparative material for courses on ethnicity and conflict, democracy, race relations and human rights. Fiji is a multi-ethnic island with a microcosm of issues confronting more and more countries in the modern world. This text addresses the following questions: how can race relations and cultural diversity be managed?; how can diversity be presented as a source of strength?; should the rights of indigenous communities ever take primacy over wider human rights? and are there alternatives to multicultural separatism in pluralistic societies? Elite ethnic Fijians responded to their own class insecurity by transposing their racialist ideology of Fijian paramountcy into the internationally respectable language of indigenous rights. Such inter-communal conflict often has its origins in the economic and political interests of a narrow class which then succeeds in spreading a much wider sense of communal threat and solidarity with an almost uncontrollable political dynamic of its own. Failing to answer the very difficult questions that arise can be devastating to the lives of ordinary people.