29 Nov 2006

New Zealand MP urges dialogue in Tonga

8:49 pm on 29 November 2006

A New Zealand Greens MP who is visiting Tonga on a fact-finding mission is warning the government not to isolate the pro-democracy movement.

Keith Locke says after the riot two weeks ago, there are signs that the government is trying to isolate these people and portray them as wreckers.

He says there is the possibility that some of the pro-democracy leaders could be prosecuted over the events surrounding the riot, but he says the government should be encouraging dialogue.

Mr Locke says New Zealand should take a role in promoting this communication.

"Because sending the police and the troops is only one part of the equation and on its own doesn't help the situation that much, because the real question how do you get rid of the problem that led to the disorder on that day."

Mr Locke also says there are signs some people appear to have been beaten by Tongan soldiers investigating the riot, despite assurances from the defence services and the police that claims of such brutality made by a pro-democracy MP had no validity.