BRIEF: April a Deadly Month for Iraqi Civilians

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Over 1,000 Iraqis were killed across that country this month, reports AFP, reversing a trend of declining violence in Iraq.  Data from Iraq’s interior, health and defense ministries indicate that over 966 of those killed were civilians.

Most were killed in the crossfire in the fighting between Shiite militants and security forces, security officials said.  Combined figures from the three ministries complied by AFP shows that over 1,700 civilians were wounded in this violence, as well.

Violence in Iraq had been declining until March, when fighting broke out in Basra, and spread to other Shiite areas of Iraq.  These clashes broke out after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered a crackdown on militiamen.  After fresh fighting broke out in Sadr City, Maliki accused militiamen of using civilians as human shields.

“Criminals and lawless gangs are using human shields in Sadr City… They are following the steps of the Baathist regime,” he said.  “They are trying to gain sympathy but they are using the lies and values of the former regime [of Saddam Hussein].”

Two hospitals in Sadr City alone said they received the bodies of 421 Iraqis killed and have treated more than 2,400 wounded since late March, many of whom have been civilians caught in the crossfire.

For more information, please see:
BBC News – Baghdad clashes ‘leave 400 dead’ – 30 April 2008

Washington Post – April Iraq’s Deadliest Month Since Last August – 30 April 2008

AFP – Iraq bloodshed in April kills 1073 – 30 April 2008

BRIEF: April a Deadly Month for Iraqi Civilians

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Over 1,000 Iraqis were killed across that country this month, reports AFP, reversing a trend of declining violence in Iraq.  Data from Iraq’s interior, health and defense ministries indicate that over 966 of those killed were civilians.

Most were killed in the crossfire in the fighting between Shiite militants and security forces, security officials said.  Combined figures from the three ministries complied by AFP shows that over 1,700 civilians were wounded in this violence, as well.

Violence in Iraq had been declining until March, when fighting broke out in Basra, and spread to other Shiite areas of Iraq.  These clashes broke out after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered a crackdown on militiamen.  After fresh fighting broke out in Sadr City, Maliki accused militiamen of using civilians as human shields.

“Criminals and lawless gangs are using human shields in Sadr City… They are following the steps of the Baathist regime,” he said.  “They are trying to gain sympathy but they are using the lies and values of the former regime [of Saddam Hussein].”

Two hospitals in Sadr City alone said they received the bodies of 421 Iraqis killed and have treated more than 2,400 wounded since late March, many of whom have been civilians caught in the crossfire.

For more information, please see:
BBC News – Baghdad clashes ‘leave 400 dead’ – 30 April 2008

Washington Post – April Iraq’s Deadliest Month Since Last August – 30 April 2008

AFP – Iraq bloodshed in April kills 1073 – 30 April 2008

UPDATE: EU Keeps Uzbek Sanctions Suspended

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan – After reviewing sanctions placed on Uzbekistan for human rights violations surrounding the Andijan Massacre in 2005 (see Impunity Watch article here), the EU has decided to keep the sanctions suspended.  EU foreign ministers remain seriously concerned about human rights protections in Uzbekistan, but believe the sanctions should remain suspended due to progress made by the government by abolishing the death penalty and releasing some rights activists.

For more information, please see:

Impunity Watch – BRIEF: EU Reviews Sanctions on Uzbek Government for Human Rights Violations – 29 April 2008

Reuters – EU keeps sanctions on Uzbekistan suspended – 29 April 2008

BRIEF: Shaky Pakistan Coalition Government Holds Talks on Judges

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan’s coalition government leaders are meeting today to discuss reinstating the judges fired by President Pervez Musharraf during his declaration of emergency rule in late 2007.  By removing the judges, many believe Musharraf greatly abused his power and it has been a significant issue in Pakistani politics since.

When the coalition was formed in February after the parliamentary election (see Impunity Watch article here), it vowed to reinstate the judges by the end of April.  However, the coalition parties are struggling to resolve their differences and thus have not been able to reach a conclusion.  Analysts believe that the shaky coalition’s future rests on its ability to resolve this problem, and the future of Pakistan’s democracy is strongly connected to the coalition.

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Crisis talks over Pakistan judges – 30 April 2008

Impunity Watch – UPDATE: Pakistan Opposition Parties Form Coalition Government – 22 February 2008

International Herald Tribune – Pakistan’s leaders close to deadline in talks on reinstating sacked judges – 30 April 2008

UPDATE: Vietnam Ends Adoptions with United States

HANOI, Vietnam – The Vietnamese government has decided to end its adoption agreement with the US after recent allegations of widespread corruption and baby-selling.

The Vietnamese government stated it will stop taking applications received after July 1st, but it will continue to processing applications for families matched prior to that date. The end of the adoption agreement between the countries will close 42 adoption agencies operating in Vietnam.

Days earlier the US released a report accusing Vietnam of adoption fraud, baby-selling, and bribery. The US Embassy report described brokers coercing poor mothers in small villages, hospitals selling babies whose parents cannot pay their medical bills, a grandmother giving her grandchild up for adoption without the parents knowing, and cash-donations diverted for personal uses.

During the announcement, Head of Ministry’s Department for International Child Adoption, Vu Doc Long, noted that Vietnam law is quite “strict” and “transparent” in the adoption field. In an interview to the Vietnam News Agency a day earlier, Vu Doc Long also commented that the US report contained “slanderous” and “distorted” information.

For more information, please see:

Impunity Watch – United States Accuses Vietnam of Widespread Adoption Fraud – 25 April 2008

The Washington Post – US Allegations Prompts Vietnam to Halt Adoption Program – 29 April 2008

VietNam Net – Vietnam Not to Renew Adoption Agreement with US – 30 April 2008

BRIEF: Interim Prime Minister Tries to Establish Political Forum

SUVA, Fiji — After the Pacific Island Forum’s condemnation of Fiji for a lack of progress towards democratic restoration, the interim government has called for a political forum to discuss Fiji’s electoral process.  Interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who is currently in Singapore on a fact finding mission, called for the nation’s politicians to gather to work together for the betterment of Fiji.  Particularly, Bainimarama has appealed to deposed PM Lasenia Qarase to engage in talks in order to tackle of question about Fiji’s democracy and to improve their failing economy.

Qarase told Radio Australia that he has been trying to form a political forum for sometime, but, to date, he has refused to meet with Bainimarama.  He said that he has been trying to establish a political dialog between his SDL party and the interim prime minister for sometime and hopes that the two organizations can come together for the good of all.

Radio New Zealand International reports that it is the interim government’s intention to do away with the electoral system laid down by the constitution.  They said that Fiji must not return to the era of racial discrimination and high levels of political corruption.  Bainimarama also said that deposed leaders should not think that the government will return to pre-December 2006 status.

For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International — Fiji interim PM appeals to critics co-operation — 30 April 2008

Radio Australia — Fiji’s interim PM appeals for cooperation — 30 April 2008

Radio New Zealand International — Fiji regime says President supports forum on electoral reform — 30 April 2008

Israeli Operation Kills 7, 4 Children

By Laura Zuber
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Middle East

BEIT HANOUN, Gaza – On April 28, four young children and their mother were killed during an Israeli incursion into northern Gaza.  Palestinian medics identified the dead children as sisters Rudina and Hana Abu Maateq, aged six and three; and their brothers, Saleh, four, and Mousad, 15 months. Their mother, Meissar, died later of wounds she sustained.  In addition, two older siblings sustained serious injuries.

Responsibility for the deaths is unclear, and Israeli and Palestinian officials each blame the other.  Palestinian sources say that the family was killed by shrapnel resulting from Israeli missiles which landed at their door.  While Israeli Defense Force (IDF) sources say the deaths were caused when explosives, carried by two nearby militants, blew up.

On April 29, IDF officials promised that a full investigation will be conducted into the cause of the explosion.  “Due to the sensitivity of the matter and the complexity of the battle … additional inquiries are to be carried out,” it said in a statement.

According preliminary findings by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, around 8:15am, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) fired a missile, targeting a group of militants.  The missile landed 10 meters away from the Meatak home, seriously injuring a militant.  Less than a minute later, two more missiles were fired at the same location, landing at the door of the house and killing one militant.

“The shrapnel destroyed the door of the house and flew inside, where Meissar Abu Maateq, 40, and her six children were eating breakfast just two meters from the door,” the organization said in a statement.

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, began conducting its own investigation shortly after the incident.  B’Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli, said that they have no “concrete, clear proof of anything,” but that its preliminary findings are similar to the military’s.

“There was a group of militants near the house and the drone fired a missile at them. They were carrying bags that probably had grenades in them,” Michaeli said, adding that no one was killed in the first strike.  “A minute later a second missile was fired at one of the men about a meter (yard) and a half outside the front door of the Abu Maateq house,” killing Ibrahim Hajuj, a Palestinian militant.

“The debate turns on whether he was carrying a bag that somehow caused a larger secondary explosion or whether the missile itself killed the four children and their mother,” she said.

According to a military spokeswoman, IDF “targeted from the air two Palestinian gunmen who were approaching the soldiers while carrying large bags on their backs.  A big explosion erupted on the scene… indicating the presence of bombs and explosives in the gunmen’s bags… As a result of this big explosion, extensive damage was caused to a house that was near the gunmen and uninvolved civilians were hit.”

Contrary to B’Tselem’s preliminary findings and IDF statements, Palestinian residents claim that no militants were killed during the attack.  The children’s father, who was close to the house and witnessed the explosion, told Al Jazeera there was no fighting in the area.  “I did not see any fighters, there were no fighters around here … no fighting, neither from the Arabs or the Israelis,” he said.

On April 29, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert expressed regret over the killings.  “The state of Israel and the government of Israel are deeply sorry when any civilian or non-combatant is hurt, particularly with regard to the mother and four of her children, who were killed,” Olmert told his cabinet at its weekly meeting.  But he laid the blame on Hamas for allowing militants to operate within residential areas and “turning the civilian population in Gaza into an indivisible part of its war.”

PM Olmert also discussed a possible truce or ceasefire with Hamas.  On April 25, Hamas proposed a six-month “period of quiet” in Gaza, which it said could then be extended to the West Bank.  Under terms of the Egypt-backed proposal, the militant group would stop its rocket attacks on Israel for six months, while Israel would open Gaza’s border crossings and cease military operations in the territory.

Israel dismissed the truce offer, saying Hamas would use the lull to re-group and re-arm its militants. At the same time, Israel promised to hold fire if Hamas and smaller Gaza militant groups halt their attacks.

However, following the Israeli incursion into Beit Hanoun, militants fired 11 rockets and nine mortars from Gaza.  Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak scoffed at talk of truce efforts.  “I think now we’re in a showdown with Hamas,” Barak told reporters. “That’s a more apt description than a possible cease-fire.”

For more information, please see:

AFP – Israel, Right Groups Probe Blast that Killed Gaza Family – 29 April 2008

Al Jazeera – Israel to Examine Gaza Child Deaths – 29 April 2008

Ha’aretz – PM Voices ‘Deep Remorse’ for Gaza Deaths, But Says Hamas put  Victims at Risk – 29 April 2008

(The) Independent – Israeli Attack Kills Palestinian Mother and Four Children – 29 April 2008

International Herald Tribune – Official: 30 Representatives of Palestinian Factions Meet in Egypt to Discuss Truce, Unity – 29 April 2008

International Herald Tribune – Olmert Blames Hamas for Civilian Deaths in Gaza– 29 April 2008

BBC – Family Killed During Raid in Gaza – 28 April 2008

Voice of America – Hamas Chief Awaits Israeli Response on Gaza Cease-Fire – 27 April 2008

BRIEF: EU Reviews Sanctions on Uzbek Government for Human Rights Violations

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan – This week, the European Union (EU) begins its twice-yearly review of the current sanctions placed on Uzbekistan and it will decide whether the current suspension on those sanctions should continue.  The sanctions were originally instated in response to the Andijan Massacre, an incident in 2005 when the Uzbek government fired into a crowd of protesters, killing hundreds and then allegedly hiding the bodies in mass graves.

When the EU originally placed sanctions on Uzbekistan, it had also demanded that an independent international investigation be conducted.  The investigation has not yet taken place.

As the sanction review takes place this week, human rights organizations are demanding that the EU reinstate sanctions, assure that an investigation take place, and remember why they imposed sanctions initially.  They point out that if the EU does not do these things, it will be condoning impunity in Uzbekistan.

However, many expect that the suspension on the sanctions will continue due to recent positive steps taken by the Uzbek government.  If that is true, then the sanctions will likely become insignificant as they expire in October 2008 and will not likely be renewed due to the lack of support by many EU states.

“The EU cannot forget why it imposed sanctions on Uzbekistan in the first place – to push for an independent investigation of the killing of hundreds of people protesting against the government,” stated Natalia Alonso, Deputy Director at Amnesty International’s EU office.  She noted that three years had passed and the “families of the [Andijan] victims are still waiting for justice.”

For more information, please see:

Amnesty International – Uzbekistan: EU must not forget the mass killings of Andizhan – 28 April 2008

Human Rights Watch – Keep the Momentum for Rights Reform in Uzbekistan – 26 April 2008

Rebels Behind East Timor Violence Surrender

By Hayley J. Campbell
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

DILI, East Timor — Twelve rebels suspected of masterminding the assassination attempts on East Timor’s President and Prime Minister in February, surrendered today after hiding in the jungle for more than two months. President Jose Ramos-Horta has declared the peaceful resolution a turning point in East Timor’s violent history.

The surrender comes after rebels shot and seriously wounded the President on the morning of February 11th. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao was also targeted in a separate attack, but escaped unharmed. The President returned to his duties last week after a two month recovery in Darwin, Australia.

This morning, the twelve, including rebel leader, Gastau Salsinha, and the President’s named shooter, Marcelo Caetano, met with President Horta in an emotional ceremony at the Presidential Palace. Cameras captured a tearful Caetano kiss the President’s hand and ask for forgiveness. In an interview, Salsinha apologized for causing the East Timor people grief. “My men surrendered for the people of this country. … They are ready to face justice,” Salsinha said.

The President has expressed forgiveness, but remains committed to seeing the ends of justice met. “I am happy our sons returned to Dili and surrendered their weapons,” President Horta said. He added, “The truth will be established by the court.”

Prime Minister Gusmao praised the Timorese police and military for their efforts in conducting the two month long manhunt in cooperation with other state institutions. This week Australia announced it will withdraw 200 troops from East Timor, in part due to the improvement in security. Although, since the small country gained its independence in 2002, roughly 2,500 foreign troops have remained to help maintain stability.

In 2006, the twelve rebels were a part of some 600 military members who were fired for protesting alleged discrimination. In the bitter dispute, the army divided into factions, causing 37 deaths and forcing 150,000 from their homes.

President Horta believes today marks an end to the violence that has plagued East Timor since its hard won independence.

For more information, please see:
Associated Press — 12 East Timor rebels suspected in attacks surrender — 29 April 2008

BBC News — Surrender ends troops’ rebellion — 29 April 2008

Christian Science Monitor — East Timor rebel leader surrenders — 29 April 2008

Reuters, UK — East Timor rebel leader surrenders — 29 April 2008

The Sydney Morning Herald — East Timor rebels surrender — 29 April 2008

TVNZ — E Timor rebel leader surrenders — 29 April 2008

BRIEF: UN Urged to Probe US Treatment of Iraqi Inmates

NEW YORK, United States – Human Rights Watch sent a letter to the UN Security Council asking them to address serious concerns about the detention policies of US-led forces in Iraq.  The group said the US invokes Security Council resolutions to justify holding thousands of Iraqis for “indefinite periods, without judicial review, and under military processes that do not meet international standards.”

“The Bush administration pushed the [UN] Security Council to declare that the US-led occupation of Iraq had ended in June 2004,” said Joe Stork, HRW’s Middle East deputy director.  “And the end of occupation means that international human rights standards apply – judicial review, access to legal counsel and family members, and a fair trial,” he added.

Human Rights Watch also called on the US to allow observers from the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq as well as independent Iraqi experts – to visit US detention facilities.  The US-led troops were holding more than 24,000 people in Iraq at the end of last year, according to Unami.

“Four years since abuses at Abu Ghraib became known, Washington should finally allow independent monitors who can report publicly to visit its facilities and speak with detainees,” Stork said.

For more information, please see:
BBC – UN Probe Urged Over Iraqi Inmates – 28 April 2008

Human Rights News – UN: Tell US to End Illegal Detention Practices in Iraq – 28 April 2008

Human Rights News – Letter to the Security Council on MNF Detention Practices in Iraq – 28 April 2008

Overseas Activists Say No to Myanmar Constitution

By Ariel Lin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

YANGON, Myanmar – In Myanmar’s largest city, security was tightened as rumors spread that pro-democracy activists would launch protests against an upcoming referendum on a draft constitution.  Riot police and junta supporters carrying batons were deployed at major road junctions and Buddhist monuments.  Dissidents in Myanmar and exile groups have urged voters to vote against the constitution, saying it is merely a ploy to perpetuate more than four decades of military rule.

Hundreds of Myanmar nationals living overseas said “No” to the country’s proposed new constitution. In Singapore, about 500 Myanmar nationals wearing red or t-shirts with the word “No”, gathered outside the Myanmar embassy to protest against the country’s proposed new constitution.  They were prevented from voting on their country’s draft constitution when they refused demands from embassy personnel to remove T-shirts.  “It’s a sham referendum,” said Myo Mying Maung, spokesman for the Overseas Burmese Patriots.  He urged everyone to vote ‘no’ “because the draft constitution is for a sham democracy”.  A  student said. “It’s not for a true and real democracy as all the terms in the constitution are biased toward the military regime.”

In Tokyo, at least 150 Myanmar citizens were protesting at the Burmese embassy, demanding that all Burmese expatriates be allowed to vote in the referendum.  Several demonstrators were injured and one man arrested during scuffles with Japanese police.  In Thailand, the demonstrators, organized by the Joint Action Committee for Democracy in Burma, chanted slogans against the May 10 referendum. Protest organizers called the vote a ploy to help Burma’s ruling generals keep their grip on power.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament is scheduled to hold a debate on Burma this week in Strasbourg and will vote on a new resolution which would exert more pressure on the Burmese military junta, according to the parliament’s official website.  These measures included a ban on the import of gemstones, timber and precious metal.

For more information, please see:

AP – Security tightened in Myanmar amid possible demonstration – 27 April 2008

AFP – Myanmar nationals in Singapore signal ‘no’ as they wait to vote – 27 April 2008

Bangkok Post – Burma bars anti-constitution group from voting – 27 April 2008

Bloomberg – Myanmar Nationals in Singapore, Indonesia Vote on Constitution – 27 April 2008

Reuters – Myanmar nationals protest constitution in Singapore – 27 April 2008

BRIEF: Mass Graves Found in Iraq

The Iraqi forces uncovered two different mass graves in the last two days where they found over 100 bodies.  The bodies were uncovered in southern Baghdad and the city of al-Guba, which is 50 miles north of Baghdad.  The bodies were discovered in an area that used to be a former stronghold of al-Qaeda.  The bodies were badly damaged as the corpses had their hands bound and many were killed through gun shot wounds to the head.  Some of the bodies had already begun decomposing.

Last month, another mass grave was found with over 100 bodies.

For more information, please see:

News.Scotsman.com- Mass graves containing over 100 decomposed corpses uncovered by Iraqi forces- 28 April 2008

The Press Association- 50 bodies unearthed in mass grave- 27 April 2008

BRIEF: Bangladesh Tribal Villages Destroyed

DHAKA, Bangladesh – Bengali settlers destroyed seven tribal villages belonging to the Jumma tribal people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region in Bangladesh.

According to the rights group Survival International, “Jumma villagers, including women and children, were beaten in the attack and their belongings looted. One hundred houses were destroyed and the Jumma villagers have fled into the surrounding forests. Bengali setters were also injured.”

Violence in the area increased after the army-backed Bangladesh government took power in January 2007. Several tribal groups have demanded implementation of a December 1997 treaty that had ended a 20-year uprising for autonomy. The government had promised regional councils that it would withdrawal of troops. Although about seventy military camps have moved, hundred remain. Over 2,500 people have been killed in clashes between supporters and opponents of the treaty during the last two decades. Opponents believe that the treaty does not give sufficient autonomy.

For more information, please see:

AFP – Tribal Villages Torched in Bangladesh: Officials – 26 April 2008

BRIEF: Ho Chi Minh Police Arrest Pro-Democracy Activists

HANOI, Vietnam – In 2006 three men were arrested by the Ho Chi Minh police in Vietnam for demonstrating against the Communist government and calling for civil liberties and democracy in Vietnam.  The three men are members of what has been named the Bloc 8406 group.  This group is named after the day April 18, 2006, when its founding members were arrested for posting pro-democracy writings on-line.  The group has been outlawed by the Vietnam government.

The three men, Pham Ba Hai, Nguyen Ngoc Quang and Vu Hoang Hai, have received terms of 2-5 years of jail time by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court.  The Vietnam News Agency and other state-controlled media outlets have reported that the three men were charged with posting documents online that, “distorted history, attacked administrations and tarnished the party and state officials, and incited people to protest.”

More recently, Vietnamese blogger, Nguyen Van Hai, was arrested under charges of “tax evasion.”  Hai is a pro-democracy activist who has reported on the protests against the Olympic torch relay.  Hai is part of a larger network of bloggers called the Union of Independent Journalists.  Other members of this group have been calling protests during the upcoming torch relay and have helped to organize demonstrations against China’s claim of sovereignty over the Paracel Islands.

For more information, please see:

Macau Daily Times – Vietnam Jails Three Pro-Democracy Activists – 27 April 2008

Bangkok Post – Vietnam Arrest Blogger for Reporting Torch Protests – 27 April 2008

Pro-Democracy Candidates Elected: Tonga’s King Urged to Reform

By Hayley J. Campbell
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga — Pro-democracy candidates won more than half the available seats in Tonga’s Parliament in Thursday’s elections. The newly elected members are, meanwhile, facing sedition charges for alleged participation in riots that destroyed Tonga’s capital in 2006.In Tonga’s political system, the people elect nine Parliamentary members, nobles appoint another nine, and the King appoints 15, which include all the country’s ministers.

Of the nine MPs popularly elected, the pro-democracy candidates won six seats. The pro-democracy movement’s leader, Akilisi Pohiva, garnered the most support, winning 11,290 votes. The second most popular candidate attracted some 4,000 fewer votes. Thursday’s election saw a record number of people register, 68,0000, to elect the nine representatives.

“I think the message is clear now. The outcome of the election is like a referendum because the government has been doing its very best, using all its resources, and dominating all the media outlets trying to destroy us, but the battle is over now,” Pohiva said.

Thursday’s election is the first since 2006, when the pro-democracy movement turned violent, causing the death of eight and destroying Tonga’s capital city, Nuku’alofa. The riots erupted after the Legislative Assembly of Tonga adjourned for the year without employing promised reforms. Five of the six newly elected candidates, including Pohiva, are currently facing criminal charges for their alleged involvement in the riots.

One Australian resident, Inoke Fotu Hu’akau, who was unsuccessful in the election warned, “Pro-democracy is getting to be more like a cult than a political party. It is getting harder to counter it as time goes by.”

Although Tonga is presently a constitutional monarchy, the growing pro-democracy movement has urged King George Tupou V to make good on his proposed democratic reforms. Among its reforms, the Government has proposed giving the majority of legislative seats, now mostly occupied by the King’s ministers, to popularly elected officials during the 2010 elections.

The King appears willing to support a more democratic Tonga, but the pro-democratic movement wants his commitment in writing. Although the details of the 2010 reforms remain hazy, the people of Tonga have made their preferences for a more representative government abundantly clear.

For more information, please see:
The Australian — ‘Rioters’ poll best in Tonga — 26 April 2008

TVNZ — Tongans back democracy campaigners — 26 April 2008

BBC News —  Tongans elect pro-democracy MPs — 25 April 2008

ABC Radio Australia — Tonga MPs call on king to keep promises over political involvement — 25 April 2008

ABC Radio Australia — Tong’as pro democracy movement wants King to back political reform — 25 April 2008

ABC News — Tongan MPs urge King to lessen political influence — 25 April 2008

The Sydney Morning Herald — Tonga pro-democracy MPs claim mandate — 25 April 2008