Tongan academic calls for discussion about use of flag after it was seen in attack on Capitol building

Pehē ‘e Palōfesa Tēvita Ka’ili ‘oku ‘i ai e fakakaukau ke fakakau hano tālanga’i ‘a e anga hono faka’aonga’i ‘o e fuka Tonga’ mo hono ngāue’aki ‘i muli’ ‘i he konifelenisi fakatotolo fakaako ki Tonga hono hoko he ta’u’ ni ‘a ia 'oku tataki 'e he kautaha Tonga Research Association. Ko e hili ‘eni ha ‘asi ngali ne fakahāloto’aki ‘e ha ni’ihi ‘i ‘Amelika ‘o e kau poupou 'o Donald Trump ‘a e fuka Tonga’ ‘i he taimi ne nau ‘ohofi ai ‘a e feitu’u ‘oku ‘iloa ko e Capitol ‘a ia ‘oku tu’u ai ‘a e Fale Alea ‘o e fonua’. Ne ‘ikai sai ‘eni ki he mamata atu ‘a e kau Tonga tokolahi pea ne tokolahi pe mo e ni’ihi ne nau pehē ‘oku tau’atāina pe ‘a e kakai ia ka ‘oku nau fie fakahāloto’aki ‘a e fuka’.

A Tongan flag appears during protest in US Capitol building. Photo/Facebook

A Hawai’i-based Tongan academic has called for a discussion about how the kingdom’s flag should be used after one appeared in photographs of the attack on the Capitol building on January 6.

Professor Tevita Ka’ili, who is Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Culture, Language and Performing Arts at Brigham Young University, said he believed a Tongan Trump supporter took the flag to the Capitol. 

Egged on  by President Trump, hundreds of Trump supporters entered the Capitol building in a bid to overturn his election defeat. They planned to force Congress to postpone a session that would have certified Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.

Five people died as a result of the attacks.

Professor Ka’ili said on Facebook the use of the flag by Tongans living overseas should be discussed.

He said such a discussion could be part of the  Tonga Research Association conference at BYU, which was planned for September this year.

Some Tongan commentators on social media lashed out at people who flew the flags during the protest saying it was embarrassing and it did not reflect well on Tonga. Some said people were free to use it. 

Flags from South Korea, Georgia, Israel, Vietnam, Cuba and India were also identified during the attack on the Capitol.

President Trump attracted a certain amount of support among the Tongan community in the United States.

There are at least two ‘Tongans for Trump’ websites, both of which are  still active. One has 1800 followers and the other 500. 

Prof Tevita Ka’ili. Photo/Facebook

Both contain anti-Biden propaganda, links to articles by right wing extremists and commentary. They also contain bizarre conspiracy theories, many of which are strongly anti-Catholic. 

In 2002 the international media reported that Tonga has suspended its international ship registry after Israel seized a vessel flying Tonga’s flag, claiming it was smuggling arms to Palestinians.

The cargo ship Karine A was captured by Israeli commandos in the Red Sea with 45 tonnes of weapons aboard, including rockets, mortars and explosives.

In 2003 the Tongan media reported that democratic supporter and advocate ‘Alani Taione had burnt the Tongan flag in Auckland to protest against King Tupou IV for not supporting the late ‘Akilisi Pohiva’s efforts to approve the democratic reforms for the country. 

Taione’s move angered government supporters, who said his  behaviour was  a disgrace for Tonga.

Three years later, the New Zealand Herald reported that Taione, 40, drove a car into the gates of the royal estate, ‘Atalanga, in Epsom in Auckland and set it on fire.

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