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Cut military ties to Tonga, says Locke

Cut military ties to Tonga, says Locke

Green Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke is calling on the Government to cut New Zealand military assistance to Tonga.

"We shouldn't be helping train an armed force that may be used against the people if the Tongan monarchy continues down its increasingly repressive track," said Mr Locke.

"In answer to a written question, Defence Minister Mark Burton has admitted that in the past six month the New Zealand Defence Force has conducted 12 'bilateral activities with the Tongan Defence Services in New Zealand'.

"At the present time the Tongan military is pretty much 'in barracks,' but New Zealanders would be disappointed if the people we helped to train were later to use those skills in suppressing the pro-democracy movement.

"Withdrawing military aid now would send a strong signal to the Tongan government that is should not proceed with planned restrictions on the press and the rights of judges.

"It would also give heart to those Tongans pushing for more democracy in their country," said Mr Locke.

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