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NZ Team Adds to Afghan Aid Problem
was Keith Locke’s response to the news that Medecins Sans Frontieres are withdrawing from Afghanistan after 24 years of involvement in that country.
“Our government can’t continue to ignore aid agency criticism of the PRTs, now that Medicins’ entire operation, with 80 international volunteers and 1400 local staff, has been closed down.
“No one is disputing that our soldiers may be doing useful humanitarian work in the militarily benign environment of Bamian province.
“However, by delivering aid in uniform, to win ‘hearts and minds’, PRTs across Afghanistan have undermined the civilian aid effort and done what the Russians, the Taliban and al-Qaeda couldn’t do in 24 years of terror and oppression — force Medicins Sans Frontieres out of Afghanistan.”
“By mixing military and humanitarian mandates, the PRTs must bear some of the responsibility for the 20 aid workers killed in Afghanistan so far this year, and a collapse of the vital civilian aid effort,” said Mr Locke.
Flag Burning Law Must be Extinguished
said Keith Locke on 25 July. He called on the Government to repeal the flag protection law, following Friday’s overturning of an activist’s conviction for burning a New Zealand flag at a protest against Australian Prime Minister John Howard last year.
“Justice France’s acquittal of Paul Hopkinson on the charge of burning the New Zealand flag is a victory for freedom of speech and democracy,” Keith said.
“The Judge made it clear that penalising flag burning would be contrary to the freedom of expression guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.
“It is a bad look for a Labour Government to be upholding a repressive Muldoon-era law, it should be repealed now. I will be pushing this issue in Parliament when it resumes this week.”
Government Free to Allow Zaoui Greater Freedom
. On 18 July Keith said today that the High Court decision of 16 July allowed the Government to move Ahmed Zaoui from Auckland Remand Prison to the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre.
“No longer can the Government claim its hands are tied over the form of Mr Zaoui’s detention,” said Keith.
“While Justice Patterson declined to go into the specifics of Mr Zaoui’s case, he did say that a person covered by a Security Risk Certificate ‘does not have to be in a prison’, and that that the Immigration Act ‘effectively delegates to the Executive the choice of where the person is to be detained.’
“I will be asking the Government to exercise its discretion to move Mr Zaoui to a more relaxed form of detention, such as at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre.’
Spooky Slip Ups
. On 16 July Keith expressed concern that the New Zealand and Australian security agencies might be overlooking the threat from supposedly ‘friendly’ countries like Israel.
“It is damning that one of the jailed Israeli spies, Eli Cara, lived for four years in Australia with a fake job cover, and travelled to New Zealand 24 times without any alarms ringing with either our Security Intelligence Service (SIS) or the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO),” said Keith, the Green Security and Intelligence spokesperson.
“The question is: prior to March, when the passport fraud was detected, was the SIS devoting any resources to monitoring Israeli government activities here, and if not, why not?”
Mr Locke pointed out that Mossad has a long record of international terrorism, including political assassination and kidnapping, often involving false passports.
“We’ve yet to see any evidence that our security services are at all attuned to the danger of state-run terrorists, be they the French agents who bombed the Rainbow Warrior in 1985, or the Mossad agents of today.
“Instead, our spooks seem to be following Washington’s agenda and chasing the mirage of Islamic terrorism in New Zealand … we need some answers from the SIS and ASIO about how they fell down on the job.”
Hiroshima Week Coming Up
. Hiroshima Day is Friday next, August 6, and several towns and cities have planned events to mark the day. There are also events to mark the anniversary of Ahmed Zaoui being granted refugee status. Brief details below — more information and who to contact is on the
Peace Movement Aotearoa site
Auckland, Saturday 7 August
, 3-30pm Cityside Church, 8 Mt Eden Road, – ‘Small nation, big heart, justice for Zaoui’. it is coming up to one year since Ahmed Zaoui was granted refugee status in New Zealand by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority; he has been detained in prison without charge for over 20 months. To mark this milestone, gather at the Cityside church where there will be poetry and music by various artists, including Don McGlashan. At 4-30pm there will be a twilight procession to the Auckland Central Remand Prison, led by children of various communities.
Waitakere City, Saturday 7 August
, 6-30 pm, Glen Eden Playhouse Theatre, 15 Glendale Road . Remembering Hiroshima Day, Waitakere Peace City Celebration with music, dance and poetry; peace cafe open from 6:30 p.m., event starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $20 ($15 unwaged/child), for more info contact Laurie Ross (09) 811 8696.
Wellington, Sunday 1 August
, 1:30pm, at the Hiroshima Peace Flame in the Rose Garden, Botanic Gardens. Hiroshima Day commemoration and plaque unveiling with speakers including Peter Dunne, leader of United Future Party; Dame Laurie Salas, NCCD; High School students; diplomatic representatives; and the Mayor of Wellington, Kerry Prendergast. “There will also be a plaque unveiling by the Mayor dedicated to those past and present who were instrumental in Wellington declaring itself a Nuclear-Free City. Hiroshima Day has been brought forward to accommodate the Mayor who cannot be there on the actual day.” Organised by Peace Council Aotearoa NZ in conjunction with the Office of the Mayor of Wellington.
Wellington, Sunday 1 August
, 7 p.m., The Opera House, Manners Street – The Zaoui Concert: with performances by Goldenhorse, Rhombus, The Accelerants, Alphabet Head, The Beatgirls, Jeff Henderson, Richard Nunns and Sally Rodwell, Taika Cohen, Jo Randerson and Gentiane Lupi; hosted by Jeremy Randerson and Adam Gardiner with Sir Paul Reeves and Deborah Manning.Tickets are $25 / 12-50, available from Ticketek (04) 384 3840, proceeds from the concert will go to Ahmed Zaoui’s family. Supported by the Human Rights Foundation and Amnesty International.
Nelson, Sunday 1 August
, 3 — 5 p.m. at Hearing Rooms – ‘An anniversary for Ahmed’ – afternoon tea and the start of Freedom Week 2004. For more info phone (03) 546 8104 or (03) 546 7447.
Nelson, Friday 6 August
, 5:30 p.m., Miyazu Gardens – Hiroshima Day Commemoration – the theme is Stop the use of DU (depleted uranium). Come float a candle, bring your own or make one from, commemoration starts at 6 p.m. with guest speaker and performance from the Mosaic World Singers, at. For more info contact Anne (03) 539 0527.
Christchurch, Thursday 29 July
, 7 p.m. – 9.p.m., Canterbury WEA, 59 Gloucester Street – ‘The Arms Trade and New Zealand Involvement’ with Keith Locke, entry by donation. Organised by the Christchurch WEA, please phone (03) 366 0285 if you are planning on attending.
Christchurch, Sunday 1 August
, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Cathedral in the Square – ‘No Ordinary Sunday’: Service for Zaoui – an interfaith gathering with a welcome by Dean Peter Beck, contemporary Christian/Koranic writings, music, poetry, lighting of candles’ followed by tea/coffee in Cathedral Cafe.
Christchurch, Friday 6 August
, 6 p.m., Victoria Square Ampitheatre – Commemoration of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, annual lantern floating ceremony with speakers including Mayor Garry Moore and Moana Cole; poetry, music, and stories from Hiroshima and Nagasaki;, all welcome.
Christchurch, Saturday 7 August
, 12 noon to 1pm, in Victoria Square – ‘Wanted for war crimes’, an enactment of a war crimes trial of Bush, Blair and Howard in the form of a play, with audience participation as the jury.
Christchurch, Friday 13 August
, 5:30pm, Addington School Community Hall, entrance off Simeon Street – Peace Concert: ‘People Enjoying A Caring Environment’ with compere Jim Hopkins, a range of items from Addington School Kapa Haka group, community singers and poetry, low cost food stalls available.
The Spy Who Came in to the Greens
. Look out for the new book ‘Axis of Deceit. The Story of the Intelligence Officer Who Risked All to Tell the Truth about WMD and Iraq’ by Andrew Wilkie when it is published in NZ next week. This story of the Australian intelligence officer who blew the whistle on the Howard government’s ‘sexing up’ of information about the possible reasons for invading Iraq, why he did it, and what happened to him, is a clear, concise and riveting read.
Wilkie lays out just how and why things are going wrong with security and intelligence in Australia, with politicians only interested in ensuring their re-election, not the protection of Australians at home or abroad. The revelations (pp 131-2) regarding just how long the Foreign Minister and his office had sat on strong warnings regarding possible terrorist attacks in Bali, and how the Minister subsequently denied this knowledge after the attack took place, are particularly shocking. Wilkie put his job, his 20 year career, and more on the line when he blew the whistle in March 2003. This year he’s standing for the Greens against John Howard. It promises to be an interesting contest — ‘Axis of Deceit’ shows just how much Howard has to answer for.
Australian Greens – Axis of Deciet
Medecins Sans Frontieres, PRT’s And Afghanistan
. Yesterday Medecins sans Frontieres announced that they were withdrawing from Afghanistan following the killing of 5 of their aid workers in June. MSF have been in Afghanistan for 24 years — through the Russian war, under the Taliban and throughout the US led invasion.
A spokesperson said “After having worked nearly without interruption alongside the most vulnerable Afghan people since 1980, it is with outrage and bitterness that we take the decision to abandon them. But we simply cannot sacrifice the security of our volunteers while warring parties seek to target and kill humanitarian workers. Ultimately it is the sick and destitute that suffer.”
But also: “The violence directed against humanitarian aid workers has come in a context in which the US backed coalition has consistently sought to use humanitarian aid to build support for its military and political ambitions. MSF denounces the coalition’s attempts to co-opt humanitarian aid and use it to “win hearts and minds”. By doing so, providing aid is no longer seen as an impartial and neutral act, endangering the lives of humanitarian volunteers and jeopardizing the aid to people in need. Only recently, on May 12th 2004, MSF publicly condemned the distribution of leaflets by the coalition forces in southern Afghanistan in which the population was informed that providing information about the Taliban and al Qaeda was necessary if they wanted the delivery of aid to continue.”
New Zealand is involved in that use of humanitarian aid through our involvement in the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan. For more on Medecins sans Frontieres’ views on the Coalitions linking of humanitarian aid with military and political goals, see:
Medicins Sans Frontieres: Coalition forces endanger humanitarian action in Afghanistan (May 2004)
, which includes: “The deliberate linking of humanitarian aid with military objectives destroys the meaning of humanitarianism. It will result, in the end, in the neediest Afghans not getting badly needed aid – and those providing aid being targeted.”
JustPeace was produced by Christine Dann, Tim Hannah and Keith Locke, MP
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