The following articles were written by smush, an IMC Aotearoa activist. sml and smush spent one week in Tonga, only a few days after huge riots in Nuku'alofa.
People fighting back in Tonga - NZ Govt assisting the monarchy
Riots broke out in Tonga's capital Nuku'alofa after a demonstration on Thursday [16th Novemer 2006]. About 800 people marched onto parliament with banners slogans calling for immediate reform, others attacked public figures, while another labeled the current structure a “deadly virus”. At night, protesters set fires to businesses in the city centre and turned cars over. Windows were smashed in the Prime Minister's Office Parliament House, the Magistrates Court,the Public Service Commission Office, the Ministry of Finance and three vehicles overturned and government cars smashed in government parking lots. One company targeted was power company Shoreline, owned by the King. The aristocratic class control the economic and political aspects of life against which the people have been resisting for years. The protests and riots are part of the struggle against the feudal system which is oppressing the Tongan people.
The King and his government have now declared martial law. Some snippets: “Any person authorised by Cabinet, and every member of the Tonga Police Force and the Tonga Defence Services, shall for the purposes of preserving public order and securing the public safety, have power to order a meeting, procession of any assembly of 5 or more persons held in a place or building (whether public or private) to disperse; order every person to remain indoors between certain hours; regulate the movement or conduct of a person or class of persons; search or detain for the purpose of searching a person; detain any arrested person for a period not exceeding 48 hours.”
The NZ and Australian Governments have now sent soldiers and cops to Tonga in attempt to crush the resistance. The capitalist media is trying to convince us here that the people are “welcoming” the troops but Tonga's pro-democracy movement has condemned the intervention. Pro-democracy supporter Akilisi Pohiva says the current regime and the monarchy have failed and can no longer maintain law and order. Peace Action Wellington held a protest against the deployment of troops to Tonga outside the New Zealand Defence Force Headquarters.
Revolutionary not Evolutionary - indymedia activists report from Tonga
Friday/Saturday, November 24/25, 2006
Nuku'alofa (Tonga) - We, two indymedia (www.indymedia.org.nz) activists, arrived at Fua'amato International Airport early on Friday morning from Aotearoa. After leaving the plane we had to walk to the arrival hall past three Tongan soldiers, two of which were carrying large rifles and the other a hand gun. A police officer walked around with his dog while people were waiting at the immigration desks. More members of the Tongan Defense Force (TDF), armed and in camouflage gear, stood around in the arrival hall. On our way into town we past a military checkpoint at the turn-off to the airport. They didn't pull us over and we drove the 20kms into the city.
In the morning we made contact with members of the Friendly Island Human Rights and Democracy Movement (FIHRDM) and arranged to meet up later. In the interim we went for a two hour walk through Nuku'alofa. On our way towards the city we came across a building which was completely destroyed from Thursday's fires. It was the headquarters of Tonfön, a telecommunication company owned by the royal family.
Checkpoints Just before entering the city centre, across from the Royal Tombs, a military checkpoint is set up. In fact, the whole city centre is cordoned off by roadblocks on every street. Only people who work or live inside the area can enter. You have to be on a list in order to pass. Each checkpoint constitutes of a set of barricades to stop cars with spikes on the ground. There are between two and eight soldiers on guard at each checkpoint. The bigger checkpoints have Tongan and Australian soldiers. The Australian soldiers moved into town on Saturday for guard duty. We counted approximately 12 roadblocks in central Nuku'alofa. The Tongan TV station, which is out of the city centre, is also closed by army personnel of which two are from Australia. “We do what the Tongan government tells us” said one of them.
NZ is investigating We came across two NZ police officers and one NZ firefighter who were busy investigating ‘arson crimes’. They told us that there are two teams, made up of one firefighter, one police photographer and two investigators (all from New Zealand) along with Tongan police, operating at the moment. “We are here to help to assist the Tongan police” said a NZ police officer.
Interviews We then had the opportunity to interview five people who are involved in the democracy movement: Finau Tutone, an organiser with the Friendly Island Teachers Association; Akanete T. Lauti, the director of FIHRDM; 'Akilisi Pohiva and Lepolo Taunisila, both Members of Parliament (two of the nine representatives elected by the people – in a parliament of 30); and Tevita Tui Uata of the National Tongan Business Association.
Very quick summary: Finau talked about last year’s strike and the connection between the trade union movement and the pro-democracy movement. He said the system needs to change in Tonga. Akanete informed us about the FIHRDM’s activities. They organise workshops and meeting to educate people on human rights issues. While she advocates for non-violence, she does not blame the people but the Government for Thursday’s riots. 'Akilisi put the movement into a historical context and talked about the progress, or lack of, made inside parliament. Lepolo is one of only two women in parliament (the other one being the Minister of Justice – appointed by the King). She only started to get involved in politics last year when she was elected to parliament as a people’s representative for an outer island. Tevita, who has been blamed for the riots, thinks that representative democracy will get Tonga out of a system that only works for 1% of the population. He was strongly opposed to Tonga joining the World Trade Organisation and says that the wealth needs to be shared more equally among the people.
NZ/OZ soldiers – get out (or “enjoy your holiday”)! With the exception of Tevita, all of the people we spoke to either do not see the point of the New Zealand and Australian troops’ presence or see them as supporters of the autocratic system. Either way, they want them out of Tonga. The NZ soldiers are not to be seen in Nuku’alofa (they are still somewhere at the airport) and the Australian troops do not seem to do much at all except for sitting around at checkpoints with big guns. Pro-democracy advocates are very critical of NZ support for the government. They say the NZ government should be neutral and not send soldiers to support the system.
Revolutionary not Evolutionary Many shops have slogans painted on them. Across from the market, someone wrote “THE NU FACE OF YOUTH REBELLION” and “REVOLUTIONARY NOT EVOLUTIONARY” on a burnt-out shop. Other slogans are “Freedomfighter”, “Fight the Power”, “Democracy not Hypocrisy”, “You had it coming” and “Fuck Prime Minister”. Many of them are signed by ‘Ezekiel’.
Police checkpoints The police have set up two checkpoints on both sides of town. They pull most cars over and search the boot. We were told they are looking for weapons and stolen goods. They say it is illegal for people to carry weapons and they claim to have confiscated eight .22 riffles over the last few days.
Army guards the King’s residence We walked to the King’s mansion which is guarded by four Tongan soldiers. The huge house is around 300 meters off the road. While taking photos a black SUV left the premises and the gate was opened for a few seconds. One of the soldiers was prepared to say a few words on camera. He said he does not want democracy in Tonga, he wants peace.
Marching band practice On our way back into town we stopped at a high-school where a marching band was practicing. Over 50 young men were playing in the band which includes tubas, trombones, trumpets and a percussion section. Everybody is incredibly welcoming and keen to talk about politics. Everybody we talk to wants change here in Tonga. People are sick and tired of living in this system where 1% of the population lives in luxury on the expense of everybody else.
Soldiers and cops wherever you go
Saturday/Sunday, November 25/26, 2006
Nuku’alofa/Pangaimotu – The city centre of Nuku’alofa has been completely closed off after last Thursday’s riots. Military checkpoints have been set up on every intersection. Only people who work and/or live inside that part of town are let in. Journalists can get a special pass which gives them access to the part of town where most buildings are damaged but unfortunately we have not been able to get media accreditation yet. There are close to 20 of these roadblocks in town.
Checkpoints: To film or not to film? We went for a walk to film and photograph the soldiers on Friday evening. While we were told not to film or take photos by a group of Tongan soldiers at one intersection, others were quite happy to be filmed and some were prepared to talk, too. A Tongan soldier said his gun is an M16. “We check all the vehicles because they go into the political centre. We scan every vehicle for weapons.”
At the next checkpoint two Australian soldiers were walking towards us while we were filming and taking photographs. They were both carrying big weapons (I’m not an expert, but they looked like machineguns to me). We were standing in the middle of the road on a roundabout and were filming. When they spotted us they yelled “Stop it, stop!” The sight of two heavily armed soldiers was rather scary. It turned out they were just on going to the diary to get some snacks (carrying huge weapons!).
”Maintaining the peace” – again and again and again At the checkpoint outside the broken satellite dishes, an Australian soldier was keen to talk on camera. His grandparents are Tongan and he speaks the language. “I represent the Australian Defence Force (ADF). We’re just here to support and provide aid to the Tongan Defence Service (TDS) and also to restore peace. The army is going through some trouble in Tonga.” When I asked him what the reaction from ordinary Tongan’s has been like he said: “The public has been good. Every car that goes past, they wave, they’re happy. When they smile at us we smile at them. They always come past and give us food. I feel the spirit out in the normal public is very positive. Not one single negative report at all.” Are you on the side of democracy? “No sides, we are just here to support the Tongan Defence Service.” He then started waving to people and talking to them as they drove past. By that time we had been at that checkpoint for around five minutes and dozens of cars went past – none of them had waved. This soldier seemed to be unaware that the pro-democracy movement does not want the troops in Tonga. He said he has no opinion on democracy in Tonga. This is his very first trip to Tonga. He has “served for his country” overseas before – in Iraq.
On Saturday, a Tongan soldier told us we were not allowed to film and take photos, put his hand over our camera and told us to go away. Back at the Broadcasting checkpoint, we were offered food and we filmed an Australian soldier and a few Tongan soldiers watching rugby. Four Australian and three Tongan soldiers were hanging out at the next checkpoint. We wanted to take some photos and film a little. After waiting for a few minutes for a reply we were told we can film one ADF and one TDS “working together” (which constituted of them standing next to each other doing nothing). We were not to take photos of ADF troops behind who were carrying machine guns. So can you tell me what you are doing here? (shakes his head) ”Sorry no” (The Australian soldier in charge said: ”Just give them your normal spin, what we were told to say”) What’s the normal spin? “Uhm, we are here to keeping the peace pretty much.” How is the peace going theses days? “Pretty peaceful.”
Pangaitapu: Team Blue goes for a swim Just off Nuku’alofa lies Pangaitapu, a small island with amazing beaches. We jumped on a small boat in which a large group of white men were already sitting. They turned out to be NZ police officers who spent their Sunday drinking beer and getting a tan. They said 47 NZ cops are now in Nuku’alofa (which is a larger NZ police/civilian ratio than in Aotearoa!). They come from all across the country and many of them have previously been overseas (Solomon Islands, Thailand etc.). Some arrived with the airforce on Saturday while others caught a commercial plane a few days later. A new contingent of NZ police has just arrived and they were sent to church “to get the people onside”.
Burning and looting Back in Nuku’alofa we saw more destroyed buildings outside the city centre. ‘Lily’s Chinese Restaurant’ was completely destroyed and so was the ‘Chinatown Hotel’. A NZ firefighter, who spent his day off with the NZ cops, said that the fires were lit with petrol and that they spread to surrounding buildings. The main targets outside the city centre were dairies, hotels, banks and Tonfon. We talked to some people in the street who described last week’s looting. “People were trashing the shop and walking out with everything. Fanta, VB. The police was just standing here doing nothing. […] The government is full of lies. The King is a liar.”
”Everything is great!” A SUV pulled over with two ADF soldiers sitting in it. One of them introduced himself as Al Green, the Public Affairs Officers (he has been to Iraq, Afghanistan, Timor, Bougainville and Cambodia – a well traveled chap). “Everything is great. It’s nice and quiet. So all we try to do is keep the peace.” What kind of jobs does the ADF do? “All our jobs are joint patrols with Tongans and helping them out at checkpoints. Our patrols are all about maintaining goodwill and relationships. Our objective is to make sure everything keeps peaceful. […] Basically, we have enough power to maintain peace on the streets.” Are your guns loaded? “Yeah, we’ve got live rounds. I mean, that’s just the standard. We have to able to protect ourselves.” What are your thoughts on politics? “Our view is not be involved in the politics but to make sure peace is maintained on the streets so that Tongans can solve their own problems.” What would you say to people who say that coming here in the first place is getting involved with politics? “That’s outside my scope. Our agenda is just to maintain peace.” He thought he was not educated enough on Tongan culture to have a view himself on democracy. But if we wanted to talk politics he will try and organise for us to interview Major Jim Hammett.
”Having consistent messages which are accurate” “This is very good PR training for me, you know” said Al Green when talking to us. “Curly questions. You guys should come and work for our media awareness. (Laughs) Exercises.” So you are trained to give those answers? “Well, to be honest mate, we have talking points that allow us to give a consistent message right through defence. Because, uhm, that’s the accurate reason. Those reasons are set to why we are here so everyone is very clear of their purpose. And if you didn’t have that consistent communication you’d be just saying… You lose your entire sense of consistency within your organisation. I mean Greenpeace probably work exactly the same way.”
So, the ADF is in Tonga to keep the peace and support the TDS. Got that message?
If a boat ends up on a reef… Tonga Report 3
Monday/Tuesday, November 27/28, 2006
Nuku’alofa – Our media pass was finally dropped off on Tuesday morning which allows us to get through the army checkpoint and into the city centre. The number of destroyed buildings is enormous. Most buildings are destroyed, windows smashed, burn-out cars are in the streets, many buildings have been burnt, and the shelves inside shops are empty. Two cafes are open at the moment – mainly to cater for the NZ police – everything else is shut/destroyed. A Chinese couple was cleaning out their watch repair shop. They described how people smashed the windows with rocks and bottles, came inside and took everything: money, watches, the microwave and fridge that were out the back etc. The owner was punched in the face by someone because he tried to stop the looting.
No escape – scenes from a war-zone Staff from the ‘Escape Café’, which is part of the only shopping-complex that was unharmed, told me how all the workers, around 30 of them, formed a line in front of their workplace to protect it. Just next door, a new cinema was burnt down with the remains of the theater perfect for a horror film. The Tungi Arcade, once home to numerous shops, is completely destroyed too. The Friendly Island Human Right and Democracy Movement had their offices in the upstairs floor and lost everything except for one laptop, their petty cash and their chequebook which were with the treasurer on the night of the riots. They lost computers, all their files and documents, a photocopier and furniture. They will have to reorganise their organization and have relocated their office to the suburbs for the time being. One street along, a digger started demolishing burnt-out houses. The fire damage makes a lot of the houses irreparable. The Prime Minister’s windows were smashed too. The markets are still standing but nothing is bought or sold. A few men were sitting around, waiting for the rain to stop. One of them told me that Nuku’alofa looks like Iraq, like a war-zone.
On our way out of the city centre, a group of kids was playing in the empty streets. We talked to a young woman, Frances, about what had happened in town. She said she was upset about the riots and the destruction. However she is fully behind the “demo-people”; she wants change for Tonga. But maybe still with a king. Maybe not. Primarily, she wants “everybody to have the same share in Tonga.”
“Unity and solidarity forever!” According to a local radio station, 355 people have been charged in relation to the events on 16th November. We saw police walking around outside the central police station with colour photos of people and driving off to arrest them. Some people told us that people were beaten by soldiers and police. The soldiers use their guns to hit people in the head. We were not allowed to film at the front of the police station but when we walked around the back, some prisoners started waving at us through windows and yelled out. “I need your help!” “We’re here to fight for democracy. I fight with my truth.” “Let us free.” “Unity and solidarity forever!” It turned out that people with revolutionary ideas who we wanted to talk to are in prison at the moment. Around 100 people are in the Nuku’alofa prison and others have been sent to Mu’a.
Ofa, Aivi and Futa On Monday we talked to Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki of the Tonga Women’s Action for Change and Dr. Aivi Puloka, the president of the Public Services Association. We interviewed Professor Futa Helu, founder of the People’s Democratic Party, on Tuesday.
Ofa, who calls herself a feminist, talked about women’s rights in Tonga and how many men in the pro-democracy movement do not think women’s rights are important. She told us that domestic violence is a big problem in Tongan society and that it is still legal for husbands to rape their wives. Ofa wants change but said that Tongans are not ready for democracy yet but that a lot of education has to be done first.
Aivi talked about last year’s strike and how it gave birth to PSA. “Before the strike there was no PSA. There was no Trade Union movement. It was just a spontaneous reaction of dissatisfaction with the government. […] And public servants decided to walk out from work. How was it organised? It was just an announcement and everybody turned up.” After 45 days, the strike was won and pay increases between 60-80% were given to all public servants.
Futa lectures in philosophy and mathematics and has been involved in the movement for years. He talked about the split between him and other people in the pro-democracy movement in recent years and why he chose to set up a party. Futa said that the People’s Democratic Party is a leftist party who wants “real change.”
Find the NZ soldiers We drove all the way to the airport to the Taliai Military Camp. This is where the NZ soldiers are currently based. A carload of them drove past but no one was prepared to talk to us. After taking photos for a couple of minutes we were told to stop by Tongan soldiers and told to go back to town. At the NZ High Commission, Lieutenant Colonel Darren Beck was meeting with the High Commissioner and had a few minutes for us. Not on camera of course. “There are close links [between Tonga and NZ] from a military perspective. We do a fair bit of training. In fact, there are some people linking in who have done some training in New Zealand.” Interesting stuff. The NZDF trains Tongan soldiers who beat up pro-democracy supporters in Tonga. As soon as we started asking the ‘hard’ question, the ‘WHY’, Beck thought that after all he was not the right person to talk to and he had to leave anyways. So the person in charge of Australian and New Zealand troops in Tonga, Darren Beck, is the wrong person to ask questions about A/NZ supporting a corrupt government? Al Green, the Public Affairs Officers of the Australian Defence Force who promised us an interview with Major Jim Hammett has yet to get in touch with us, too. We are hoping to speak to the NZ High Commissioner to finally get some satisfactory answers.
”If a boat ends up on a reef… We are staying at a wonderful guesthouse only a short walk from town. Our host gave us the following Tongan saying the other day. To me it seems this sums up what most people are thinking here in Tonga:
”If a boat ends up on a reef you don’t blame the reef; you don’t blame the boat; you don’t blame the wind; you don’t blame the waves; you blame the captain.”
Abuse in Tongan prisons - IMC activist almost arrested
Wednesday/Thursday, November 29/30, 2006
Nuku’alofa – It was raining for most of Wednesday and Thursday morning so we didn’t do all the things we had planned for. We talked to people about the brutality in the prisons and met three men who were beaten by soldiers. A woman told us how her neighborhood protected Chinese shops from being destroyed on Thursday, 16th November and an IMC activist was almost arrested outside the Nuku’alofa prison/police station.
”Hit in the face with the back of a gun” We met two young men, scars and bruises covered their faces. Sione and Semisi were arrested a few days ago by the army. “A soldier hit me in the face and in the eye with the back of his gun. We were drinking and the soldiers came and hit all the guys. We were put in a van like an animal and taken to prison. I was in prison for 3 days. There was little food and water in prison. The toilet was very bad. The smell in the prison is not good. We were not charged. We were taken outside but they did not give us a ticket or a charge. We were told to stay home and not do something. I was not in town during the riots. I was at work.” So the soldiers beat you and arrested you for no reason? “Yes.” What are you going to do now? “We want to lay charges and we want to change the government.” Did you know the soldiers who were beating you? “I only know their faces, not their names.”
A taxi driver told us about his neighbor who spent a night in prison. Uiaka, a Tongan living in Auckland, was arrested on Friday night. “We tried to go to a club and that soldier stopped us; giving us a hiding; take us to jail and they sent me back the following day.” Uaika was in a taxi with his cousin. He pointed at a soldier at the side of the road with his hands and jokingly said “Bang Bang”. The soldier beat them both. Two police were standing there doing nothing. Uika was hit in the mouth, one tooth will probably have to come out, and his cousin got a black eye. “They did that for nothing. We just came to Tonga for a good time and this is what’s happening!” Can you tell us what it was like in prison? “It’s like hell! We only got a piece of bread and drink some cold water – that’s it. The conditions of the prison – I dunno – I have never seen anything like that before.” Uiaka was not charged with anything either. “The prison was full. Heaps of people.” He said the cell would normally take around eight people but there were 28 in his cell.
On our way out of town we talked to some Tongan soldiers at a checkpoint. Some people have said that people who arrested were beaten with guns. Is it true? “Who said that?” Some people. Clive Edwards said that. “Beaten by who?” By soldiers. […] Did you help the police arrest people? “Yeah.” Did you beat people? “Sometimes.” How do you beat them? “In their faces.” With your gun? “Yeah.” Are they bleeding? (Nods) Do you take them to hospital? “No, just to prison.”
Clive Edwards: “I objected to the NZ troops coming here right from the start” We interviewed Clive Edwards, a Representative of the People in parliament. “In a situation which was ignited by suppression of people over a period of time and denial of their normal rights of freedom, to be able to have self-determination rather, and been subjected to dictatorial rule, which is what is going on in this country in the form of government that is constitutional, which constitutes and commands it, but it’s protecting a system where you have very limited rights of self-determination and get those in authority to be accountable to the people. And that’s the problem here. […] The riots are a result of frustration and of denial of what the people have wanted for a long time. People have been petitioning, marching, protesting over a period of 18 months. […] We have reached the point of no return. […] I objected to the NZ troops coming here right from the start. […] The New Zealand troops are coming here to curtail those who are starving for democratic government. […] The military are now being brutal and beating people up. And New Zealand and Australia are going to be associated with that type of conduct by this government, a despotic government? That’s non-sense! And I think New Zealand and Australia should go back.”
IMC activist almost gets arrested for filming outside the prison! I was filming outside the Nuku’alofa police station which is also the prison. We had just finished interviewing the Prime Minister’s political advisor Lopeti Senitulu and I went around the corner and was around 30 meters away from the police station entrance and filming. They were bringing in young people who had been arrested. A soldier came running towards me and grabbed me. A van-load of NZ cops drove past and I yelled “Help! This soldier is arresting the media!” but they just kept on driving (no surprises there). He pulled me across the road towards the prison. More soldiers were standing around there. He asked me what I was doing, how I got into the city centre and I said “I’m media! Here is my pass! We just interviewed Lopeti.” He said he didn’t care and used his communication device to ask his boss what to do with me. He yelled at me saying I was not allowed to film in town and I said that I was media and that I was allowed to film in town. Then he said I was not allowed to film outside the prison and I said I did not know that. He then decided that I had to delete the footage I took from outside the prison. “I’m a technician, I will do it.” I said that I would do it myself and he kept on holding on to me as I was recording over the 30 seconds of film I got from outside the prison. So why do you want me to delete it? “You know the way. You have to get permission.” But I have permission! “To take photo, everything?” Yes. “No.” Why not? “I called them and they said no.”
The neighborhood protects Chinese stores A woman told me how she experienced the riots about 1km from the city centre. She was at home with her family when people came into her street and tried to loot and burn down four shops, some of which were operated by Chinese people. She said a lot of people stood in front of the shops to protect them. They managed to persuade people not to burn the shops because it would have destroyed people’s houses too. Only one shop was looted and none were burnt.
Down at the waterfront, we briefly talked to a Tongan woman and a Chinese man at a Chinese restaurant. The windows of that restaurant were smashed during the riots but they have already been replaced. The man thought that some Tongans don’t like Chinese. The Tongan woman agreed and said that a small minority of Tongans don’t like them.
My views on Thursday’s event (very briefly) After seeing downtown Nuku’alofa and talking to various people, I think the riot’s roots lie in the people’s deep frustration and anger with the government, the nobles, the King and the feudal system as a whole. The riots were targeting government buildings, companies owned by the PM, King and his family and outside the city centre some Chinese and Indian shops as well as shops and companies owned by the King were targeted. In the city centre, most shops were looted and destroyed and many burnt down (ie. every shop was targeted). I do think that there are some anti-Chinese exponents amongst democracy supporters, particularly in the ‘business community’. They say they are angry at the King’s ‘undemocratic approval’ of 400 Chinese immigrants over night. The suggestion of an ‘ethnic conflict’, as presented by some of the mainstream/capitalist media, (a) downplays the widely held disgust with the current system (and therefore plays in the hand of the ruling class), and (b) is far from the truth because most Tongan people are friendly, or at least not unfriendly, towards Chinese immigrants. (I will have to do a lot more thinking and transcribe all the tapes to come up with a deeper and more extensive analysis of the situation in Tonga.)
More interviews We interviewed Michael McBryde (the NZ High Commissioner), Kaufo’ou Amato (the treasurer of the Friendly Islands Human Rights and Democracy Movement), Lopeti Senituli (political advisor of the Prime Minister and member of the FIHRDM) and Latu Kolomatangi (involved in the Catholic Church and the pro-democracy movement). We haven’t had time to go through all the interviews; just a couple of soundbites.
McBryde said: “This [the riots] was a total breakdown of law and order in the central city area and what you call ‘harsh measures’ with checkpoints and the exclusion zone seemed to us to be a reasonable response to a situation of near anarchy in the central city area. The Tongan Defence Service did a great job in restoring order to the central city.” He blamed pro-democracy leaders for the destruction of Nuku’alofa. He also thought it was “simplistic view” to say that NZ troops were in Tonga to enforce the laws and orders of a feudal and un-democratic system which oppresses its own people. I agree; it is pretty simple.
Latu on the other hand said that: “[On Thursday] I was thinking ‘How many years did the business people get from the poor?’ I think on that day it was the day of the poor people to get their share from the business people. Seeing people enjoying taking goods out of the shops and burning them made me think of the poor and how they get their share from the business people. For years they collect from the poor. Thursday is a day for the poor to take their share from them.”
NZ soldiers located outside Westpac I finally found some NZ soldiers in Tonga. One of their wagons was parked outside the Westpac Bank inside the ‘restricted’ area of Nuku’alofa. Three soldiers were sitting in the back and one was outside talking to a bank staff member. Here is our brief conversation: (to a soldier sitting in the wagon) How has it been for you? Had a good time? “Yup.” What did you get up to? (The ‘boss’ intervenes’.) “Go talk to the boss for a second.” (The boss) “Is this on?” Yep. “Just don’t film anything inside the wagon.” Why is that? “Just coz, security reasons.” (I keep on filming.) Do you want to tell me what kind of things you have been up to? “Nah.” Why not? “Coz, the story is finished really.” When are you guys leaving? “Dunno.” Are you guys not so into the media? “Ah no, we are. Just, uhm, organised media. Media that has been arranged.” (Writes down my name on my Media pass and they drive off.)
Thank you! A big THANK YOU to the people from the Friendly Islands Human Rights and Democracy Movement! Thanks so much to everybody we were able to talk to here in Tonga! Thank you to the people at our guesthouse – we had an amazing time at your place. Thanks to people in Aotearoa who helped with contacts (people from Oxfam, CID, NDU, the anarchist community in Wellington, Indymedia and Dev-Zone), thanks for the equipment (Kotahi Te Ao, Wellington anarchists and IMC Wellington) and thanks to the wider IMC community for the help with feature writing and support.
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!