The South Pacific islands of Tonga may be a may be a picturesque land of palm trees and sandy beaches, but just a few days ago it's streets are also filled with rioters, looters, burning cars, and broken glass. Riots erupted in the capital city of Nuku'alofa when the nation's parliament seemed ready to adjourn without passing promised democratic reforms. Luckily, the legislature got the message and changed the country's election laws so that the majority of parliament will be elected by the people in the 2008 election, but not before 80% of the buildings in Nuku'alofa's main business district were destroyed. Calm has prevailed, but Australia and New Zealand have dispatched several hundred military and police to keep the peace.
While I am glad that Tonga is becoming more democratic, I think that this is a perfect example of how NOT to petition your government. Letting politicians know how you feel is one thing, but these riots led to mass chaos and eight deaths. Looting businesses and torching automobiles is not a form of political protest - it's just common thuggery.
PLEASE LOOK AT THIS LINK: The site "Planet Tonga" has posted this photo gallery of downtown Nuku'alofa in flames, these pictures should help you understand why I think it that it is so important to let people know about the events in Tonga.
This BBC photo essay
is also a good snapshot of the violence, and you can also click here
to link to an AP news story on the subject.
Tags: Tonga, Nuku'alofa, Nukualofa, Tonga Riots, Democracy, News, Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, South Pacific, Riots in Tonga