Alleged beating of Tongan Seasonal Worker ‘very pitiful and must be investigated’, says Minister

    Minister of Internal Affairs Sangstar Saulala. Photo/Supplied

    Tonga’s Minister of Internal Affairs Sangstar Saulala has vowed to investigate an alleged beating of a Tongan Seasonal Programme Work (SPW) employee in Australia.

    Hon Saulala said the safety of Tongans was paramount and priority when they were away from their families and working overseas.

    “It is very pitiful, and it must be investigated”, the Minister told Kaniva News.

    The Minister was responding after we reported photos of injuries and serious bruises consistent with somebody being beaten.

    The photos show a man with what appeared to be his hands, wrists and arms bruised, cut and  swollen.

    Reports said there were serious allegations of threatening and fear of reprisals from the perpetrator—especially if it is the leader of Tongan groups involved.

    We have been reliably informed there was a link between the photos and a group of Tongans working in a farm in Perth.

    It is understood the alleged beating took place on Tuesday.

    The victim was a first-time employee under the Australian SWP.

    As we reported this morning, the dramatic photos were uploaded to Facebook, prompting an investigating by the Pacific Islands Council Queensland (PICQ).

    The revelations come after a report by a group of researchers revealed that the breakdown of communications early in the aftermath of Tonga’s deadly tsunami meant many seasonal workers in Aotearoa and Australia were “left in the dark, not knowing whether their families were safe or not”, reported RNZ International.

    The report was referring to when the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai Volcano erupted on 15 January 2022.

    The eruption triggered a tsunami that destroyed villages, resorts and infrastructure. It also knocked out communications for the South Pacific nation of about 105,000 people.

    Four lives were lost as a result of the disaster.

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