Indians in Fiji Refuse to Pay Tax

Here are some data points about tax resistance in Fiji in . First, a news article from :

Indians in Fiji Refuse to Pay Tax

Disguised under the title Residential Tax Ordinance, the new poll tax of £1 a year on males over 18 is causing much discontent among Indian settlers in Fiji (says a Suva message in the “News”).

A start will be made in to register all those liable to pay the residential tax, and prison will be the fate of him who does not comply with the law. Leading Indians in every district declare that they will willingly go to gaol before they register their names, and a general passive resistance is highly possible, with all its attendant strikes and bitter feeling.

There are 60,300 indians in Fiji and but 3000 Europeans, so the Indian considers that the poll tax is especially directed at his section of the community. He objects strongly to the tax, because it is inequitable in its incidence, and it hits the poor man harder than the well off. It means the forfeiture of 12 days’ pay to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s agricultural laborers, who get about 18 a day if they are diligent. The Government does not permit Indians, however respectable, to use its schools. Indians have no Parliamentary representation, there is no real Indian Affairs Department in the Government, and therefore no sympathetic administration of the big Indian community, which provides the workers of the colony. There is but one steamer a year between Fiji and India by which the thousands who are entitled to and wish for a free return passage to India may travel.

Next, a dispatch from :

Native Chief’s Arrest

Refused to Pay Tax.

Thrown and Handcuffed.

 Thirty military police and two machine guns were sent to a village to arrest a native chief who had refused to pay a tax of 55/ which had been imposed by the court. The women of the village stoned the party and the chief fled to the bush. He returned to the village later, but before he could be arrested he had to be thrown and handcuffed.

He was sentenced to six weeks for contempt, and six months for having obstructed the police. He said he refused to pay the tax as a matter of principle, and not with any ill will to the Government.

A strong protest has been made that an offence, which was a civil one, should have been used for such action against a high chief. His arrest has intensified the natives’ passive resistance.