Abuse and Basra battle mean its ‘time up’ for NZ troops

The Green Party says the Government cannot ignore the fighting in Basra and the ongoing scandal over the abuse of prisoners and must pull New Zealand’s troops out of Iraq.

“New Zealand’s good name internationally is being sullied by our troops being embedded in a British force that is being increasingly discredited by reports of brutality towards Iraqis,” said Keith Locke MP, the Green Party Defence Spokesperson.

“Today London’s Daily Mirror has published more reports and photos of British soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners. New Zealand’s troops are embedded in the UK’s 77 Armoured Engineering Squadron group, which has been involved in military action and taken prisoners who may be amongst those that have been mistreated.

“The fighting in Basra over the past few days, involving British troops, is another reason for the New Zealanders to get out. The Kiwi troops have admitted to helping the British military effort, both in constructing roadblocks away from their Basra base and in repairing boats used for British combat operations. The Iraqis won’t look kindly on this military role.

“It is embarrassing when US and British leaders continually list New Zealand as a ‘coalition’ member, when the Iraqi people clearly want the occupation troops out of their country. The distinction our Government makes between our post-war involvement and that of the invading ‘coalition of the willing’ is obviously lost on Bush and Blair themselves and is unlikely to be made by angry Iraqis.

“The numerous negatives in the New Zealand army engineers staying in Iraq now clearly outweigh the positives the Government sees in their contribution to reconstruction. The troops should come home now,” said Mr Locke.