Tonga

The article below draws its information substantially from ABC Radio National's Background Briefing program "Deep sea riches could spark Pacific mining boom" from October 20 last year by reporter Ann Arnold. You can listen to the program or read the full ABC Radio National Background Briefing program transcript. * * * If you had to pick one place in the world that could be considered safe from the rabid expansion of the mining industry, you might choose the deep sea floor.
High-profile pro-democracy campaigner and parliamentarian Akilisi Pohiva has been arrested by police in connection with a riot last November that left seven people dead. Following the riot, a state of emergency was declared, giving police the power to detain people without charges for seven days. Some 700 others have already been arrested, including Pohiva’s fellow-MP Isileli Pulu, who was charged with manslaughter, sedition and abetting property damage. According to Radio NZ International on January 19, Pohiva says the motivation for the riot will be revealed in court. “He knew what the people were upset about”, RZNI correspondent Mateni Tapueluelu said. “They were upset because the very peaceful approach that they’d made to the government demanding political reform hadn’t worked. And he knew why their anger spilled out and this is why he made a statement to that effect, which is now interpreted by the government as meaning that they [the pro-democracy movement] did plan it.”
Tonga’s pro-democracy movement has attacked the Australian and New Zealand governments for sending more than 150 soldiers and police to the Pacific nation, demanding the intervention end. The foreign forces have ostensibly been sent to help “restore law and order” in the aftermath of rioting sparked by Tonga’s monarch, King Siaosi Tupou V, announcing the closure of parliament for the year without implementing widely demanded democratic reforms.
At a joint November 17 press conference with his New Zealand counterpart Helen Clark, Australian Prime Minister John Howard announced that a “joint Australian-New Zealand force of both military personnel and police will, in response to a request from the government of Tonga, go to Tonga tomorrow morning”.
Subscribe to Tonga