TONGA’S CURIOUS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE U.S.

Editorial

TONGA’S CURIOUS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE U.S.

Matangi Tonga

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Dec. 13) – When the world, and Tonga, commemorated Human Rights Day on December 10, the USA, the world's only Super Power, in leading its war against terrorism declared that weak and authoritarian states are a threat to the United States.

"The threat to the United States now comes from weak states that oppress their own citizens, and that kind of oppression breeds poverty, frustration and terrorism," declared Michael Kozak, the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

Kozak told the Washington File on December 2 that, "one classic way of reducing threats in the world to the United States and our allies is promoting democratic development in countries so that people have a way of changing their own lives and don't become so frustrated that they turn to violence. So human rights is very important in our foreign policy.

"The promotion of democracy and human rights is included in our national security strategy as a central element," he added.

Tonga's relationship with the United States remains an unusual one. Tonga was one of the original members of the "coalition of the willing" that sent soldiers and supported the U.S. in its war against Sadam Hussein and world terrorism. But at the same time, the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in its report on Tonga's Human Rights, published In February 2004, rated Tonga's human rights record as poor.

"Citizens do not have the right to change their government. At times, the authorities infringed on freedom of speech and of the press. Some women suffered from domestic violence; women also faced discrimination and limited employment and economic opportunities. In practice, the right to form labor unions was restricted by the lack of implementing regulations," stated the report.

So despite Tonga being a member of the coalition of the willing, the question remains: are we a threat to the security of the United States because of our Poor Human Rights record?

December 14, 2004

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