Fiji: Amelia Rokotuivuna

My darkest moment was the May 1987 military coup. I was angry that a contract was broken. It dawned on me for the first time that a major challenge for Fiji people was to understand human rights.

— Amelia Rokotuivuna

Amelia Rokotuivuna has been a feminist activist for peace and justice all her life. As head of the Fiji YWCA in the 1970s, she was the key spokesperson for NGOs on political, social, and economic justice issues, and a leader of the anti-nuclear movement. She co-organized a demonstration in Fiji against Chilean General Pinochet’s visit in the early 1980s, led a youth protest march after the first Fiji military coup in 1987, and worked with the Citizens' Constitutional Forum in the 1990s to secure popular agreement on a new democratic Fiji constitution. She died in May 2005 at the age of 63.

"One of our major achievements in the struggle against French nuclear testing in the Pacific was forcing Air France (UTA) out of Fiji. It resulted from such a very good combination of efforts: by trade unions, by university students, and by the anti-nuclear Pacific movement. Protests by members of the Nuclear-Free and Independent Pacific movement were almost daily events. For several years, every Saturday somebody was out on the streets leafletting. And the University of the South Pacific Students' Association was almost always marching or protesting, either on the streets or outside the UTA offices. The trade unions were seeking the withdrawal of Air France from Fiji. The Prime Minister summoned me and a colleague to his office. We had asked to see him because the leader of the Airline Workers Union, had said they intended to boycott Air France. I had told the leader to go ahead and that we would go and see the Prime Minister, to get a sense of how he would react to this action. The Prime Minister told us he would say nothing – which is of course what he did. He did not say anything; he did not interfere. I read that he wanted the French to stop testing their nuclear bombs in our Pacific and that he was quite happy with what we were doing. He would do his diplomatic thing but he evidently felt the French should decolonize. It was soon after this that the Prime Minister established the South Pacific Forum, the inter-governmental organization for independent states in the Pacific to be able to address issues like French nuclear testing and decolonization."

Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) Fiji Labor Party World Council of Churches (WCC)