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Dunne: Put Tongan democracy on SP Forum agenda


Dunne: Put Tongan democracy on SP Forum agenda

Democracy in Tonga must be on the South Pacific Forum agenda when it is held in Auckland in August, and New Zealand, Australia and the Commonwealth are duty-bound to speak out on the issue, United Future leader Peter Dunne said today.

"One of our closest neighbours is facing its most fundamental assault on human rights and free speech since its constitution came into being in 1885, and we cannot sit idly by as this happens.

"The legislation being proposed in Tonga is a travesty and a basic violation of the universal principles of human rights," he said

"This is in our backyard. It's one thing to fight tyranny in Iraq, but let's not let it get a foot hold here in the South Pacific."

"There are wider issues of regional stability that flow from such an attack on democracy and human rights, especially with what clearly appears to be a move by the Tongan royal family towards effectively creating a Chinese toe-hold in the region," Mr Dunne said.

This would become all the more likely if financial help from members of New Zealand's Tongan community to relatives at home was cut in protest at the anti-democratic changes.

"This would seriously threaten the Tongan economy and could well lead to greater Chinese involvement at the invitation of the royal family," he said.

Mr Dunne met today with Kalafi Moala, publisher of the Taimi O Tonga newspaper, which until yesterday had been banned in Tonga for several months.


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