All photos by Hon. Semisi Sika
More than 100 marchers gathered at the Basilica of St Anthony Padua and marched up Taufaʻāhau Rd to Tonga’s Parliament this morning in protest against the government’s move to ratify the United Nations’ Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discriminations Against Women (CEDAW).
Most of the protesters were members of the Catholic church’s Fekau’aki ‘a Fafine or Tonga Catholic Women’s League Diocese of Tonga and Niue joined by other church members.
Church leaders such as Cardinal Mafi of the Catholic Church, President ‘Ahio of the Free Wesleyan Church and Leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints were not seen during the march.
The marchers arrived outside Tonga’s Parliament house before the organisers handed a letter of petition to the Speaker of the House.
Organizers say the protesters feared CEDAW has a hidden agenda to force Tonga to legalise abortion and same sex marriage.
“Abortion and same sex marriages is not mentioned in the convention, but when it is applied in member countries, they are being forced by CDAW committees to do so,” said Pastor Barry Taukolo, one of the organisers of the protest marching, on Facebook.
“Do not deceive us [because] we are not being deceived by this,” he further wrote.
The protest came after repeated protests by church leaders since March telling government they did not support its move to ratify CEDAW.
The government’s Minister for Internal Affairs Hon. Feao Vakatā told church leaders last week it is the government’s constitutional duty to sign CEDAW for the benefit of the nation as a whole.
The government told church leaders CEDAW did not bring threats to Tongan family, culture, morals and Christianity as they claimed.