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Church leaders take petition to Palace

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Photos by Linny Folau

Father Mateo Kivalu, Vicar General Monsignor Lutoviko Finau, Rev Dr Liufau Saulala and Father Seluini ‘Akauola. Nuku‘alofa. 22 May 2015

A crowd of people from various churches in Tonga led by some church leaders today marched to the Palace Office in Nuku’alofa to present four petitions to King Tupou VI, in opposition to Tonga’s intention to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Waving banners and placards, about 500 marchers were led by Rev. Dr Liufau Vailea Saulala of the Tokaikolo Church, Vicar-General Monsignor Lutoviko Finau of the Catholic Church, Pastor Barry Taukolo and Father Seluini ‘Akau’ola, from the Catholic Basilica to Mala’e Pangai Lahi.

Church leaders presented the petitions to Lord Luani the Master of the Royal Household, inside the Palace Office.

Rev Dr Ma’afu Palu of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, one of the organisers of the march, said the petitions were from the Tonga Catholic Women’s League, Lotu Hufia ‘a Tonga, Tokaikolo Church, and a group of men from the Eastern District who came forward to support their women against CEDAW.

“We had around 15,000 signatures combined from all petitions presented today.”

He said they were marching because they do not want the Government of Tonga, and the Prime Minister Hon ‘Akilisi Pohiva to ratify CEDAW. They are also asking the King not to give his consent to this convention.

“If Tonga allows this convention it will take us back to pre-christianity,” he claimed, while placards carried by the marchers proclaimed that “CEDAW is a Secret Agent of Satan,” and “CEDAW = 666! Evil!” and - more simply - “CEDAW go to hell!”. One placard called for “ ‘Akilisi and your cabinet to step down!”.

“This a march of citizens of Tonga, members of Christian churches from the Free Wesleyan Church, Catholic, Pentecostal, Tokaikolo Church, Mo’ui Fo’ou denominations and the Church of Tonga. We also have the support of the church leaders,” Rev Dr Palu said.

Also joining the march were Nobles Representatives to Parliament, including the Deputy Speaker Lord Tu’i’afitu, Lord Nuku, Lord Tu’ilakepa and Lord Tu’iha’ateiho.

The Assistant President of the Catholic Women’s League, Lady ‘Ainise Sevele and members of the Catholic Church joined the march.

This is the second march against CEDAW, the first being the Catholic Women’s League who marched on Tuesday, 19 May to Parliament.

Supporters

Meanwhile, another group who support the ratification of CEDAW with reservations, will take their own petition to Parliament on Monday.

Comments

Slaves only notice their chains when they try to move. I found many of the posters being carried ironic, but the one in picture 13 saying "Tonga rejects colonialism" particularly so. The many flavours of Christianity have had the biggest and most long lasting colonial impact on Tonga of all. This parade is evidence that the colonisation of Tongan minds continues.

Totally agree, I am amazed at how many Tongans live by what was introduced repressive beliefs, whats all this rubbish about women, particularly young woman not being allowed wear a bikini at the beach, who in hell said showing skin was disrespectful and offensive in Tonga... WHAT !!!!! Pre missionaries, Tongan's used to enjoy the freedom of baring their body skin as it's only natural to do so in this climate...to see Tongans going swimming fully dressed is like something out of a comedy movie. What can possibly be offensive about a young beautiful Tongan woman wearing a bikini, give me a good reason, and not one that Christianity has imposed on people......of course this all come from the same stable as the Catholic church leader who said "CEDAW was not for Tonga because women were not born equipped with the brain to be leaders like men" What a disgraceful comment and he really believes his words....