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”This is a very sad time for the people of New Zealand, the people of Iraq, and the people of the world. I cannot help thinking of what it must be like to be young children in Iraq today-living in terror in their homes, and not knowing what might explode around them, which of their friends and relations might be killed and maimed, or what might happen to their homes, streets and neighbourhoods. That is what war is all about. That is what is about to be visited on the people of Iraq.”
Keith Locke, Parliament — Debate on Invasion of Iraq, 18th March 2003
Two days later, the bombs began to rain down on Iraq. ”Today’s onslaught on an impoverished country by the world’s biggest military superpower is a black day for humanity” Keith said on 20 March. ”This is an unjust, illegal and immoral act of aggression. There is no basis under international law for the invasion of Iraq and there is no UN mandate that adds any shred of legitimacy to this action.” Read the rest of
Parliamentary speech of 18 March
Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons spoke in Parliament. “Our first thoughts are for the Iraqi people, weakened from two wars and from many years of sanctions that have denied them even the basics of life” Jeanette’s statement on the outbreak of war on 20 March is reproduced in full below.
“On behalf of the nine Green members, the wider Green Party, and the thousands of New Zealanders who have been calling for peace and reason over recent months, I want to record our grief and our anger at the attack on Baghdad that has just begun.
Our first thoughts are for the Iraqi people, weakened from two wars and from many years of sanctions that have denied them even the basics of life. None of us, and none of those planning this war, have ever experienced the horrors they are about to inflict on others.
It is not in the power of the Iraqi people, who will suffer from this attack, to cooperate, or to not cooperate, with the weapons inspectors.
Our second thoughts are for the systems of international law and agreement, which are so seriously undermined by this action. The charter of the United Nations, which holds that force must be the very last resort, has been undermined. In its place we have a new doctrine of first strike, without any immediate threat, and without international agreement.
I fear we are entering a new dark age in international relations, which may undo what has been achieved with such difficulty and so tentatively in the last 50 years.
I call on the Prime Minister to ensure that our frigate does not assist in any way with the US-led war.
I would also like her to make our grief and our anger known to the diplomatic representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and to play our part in initiating a special session of the United Nations General Assembly to condemn this coalition of the killing.”.
BRING THE MESSAGE BACK HOME — two ways to protest from home are to put a candle or other light in your front window every night, and to download the photos and/or photo posters of Iraqis in ”Faces of Baghdad” from the website
. Put one or more of these photos of Iraqis in happier times in the front window (or on the bulletin board at work) to make a statement about just who it is who will be killed. Our leaders appear to lack understanding of and empathy with the needs and aspirations of ordinary people like us, Iraqi or Kiwi, to live with peace and justice — these are two ways of literally bringing the message back home to them.
RALLYin WELLINGTON this Saturday March 22, 11 am, Civic Square to Parliament and the US Embassy. In AUCKLAND this Saturday March 22, 12 noon, QE II Square, and CHRISTCHURCH next Sunday March 30, 2 p.m., assemble outside the Museum, Rolleston Ave. Vigils, rallies, pickets and protests are happening all over at present — get in touch with your local organising group to stay tuned, and keep checking the
Peace Movement Aotearoa
HAND OUT THE FLIER — the Green antiwar flier has been updated and can be downloaded from
for you to print off your own — properly printed copies will be available next week. Order them from
tim [dot] hannah
parliament [dot] govt [dot] nz
- SHOW THE VIDEO — give your friends and neighbours a picture of life in Iraq and what the people there think and feel by hiring the 23 minute video ”Iraq: Voices from the Streets” and having people round to see it. Send $10 to cover a two week hire and postage to you to C. Dann, Box 46, Diamond Harbour 8030, Banks Peninsula (Cheques made out to C. Dann.).
It is a matter of deep regret to most New Zealanders — and Australians — that John Howard has committed Australian troops to the attack on Iraq. Australian Green Senator Kerry Nettle spoke out against it in the Australian Senate on 19 March — her full speech is below.
“As we stand here talking, there are people who one week from now will be dead because of decisions made here.
The vast majority of those who die will be ordinary people in Iraq who like you and me who enjoy and treasure life. They participate in their local community and they revel in the everyday joys of life. They laugh, sing and play just like ordinary Australians.
This is why Australian people have no quarrel with the Iraqis, they are people just like us. We feel connected with them, we understand their fear for their families, and we empathise with their pain.
This is the raw fact that the Prime Minister has lost sight of. War is about people, not abstract concepts.
It is about the deaths of ordinary men and women, not about maintaining strategic alliances.
Its people who will suffer, people who die and people who are asked to do the killing.
People are the victims of war but ultimately it is the people who can and will resolve this mess our so-called leaders have begun.
Ordinary men and women around the world have responded to this very human reality. We have seen millions around the world come out and reject this war and its humanitarian consequences. People have poured onto the streets to show their support for the people of Iraq.
A new superpower has arisen over the last year, and I don’t mean the United States or George W Bush. The superpower that has been born in recent world politics is public opinion.
This unprecedented movement is not controlled by the usual political mechanisms of Parliaments and politicians. Yet it alone has turned George Bush’s arrogant plan to bully and bluster the world into accepting war into an enormous US diplomatic failure.
This superpower, which has already achieved a great deal, will continue to grow, and if there is to be any good come out of this war then it will be to this power that will be responsible, not our governments.
In Australia, wherever Mr Howard goes in public he is reminded by the people of this wonderful country that he does not speak for them when he sends young Australian men and women off to another war in the Gulf and perhaps some to their deaths. We support the troops but we do not support Mr Howard. When he sends off troops, he does so only in the name of Mr John Winston Howard and in the shadow of George W Bush.
I was with hundreds of Australians confronting Mr Howard on Sunday. Joining me were elderly men, war veterans wearing their medals to remind Mr Howard of the horrors of war. There were young families, new Australians and elderly women who have been the stalwarts of the peace movement in their local community for decades.
Mr Howard underestimates the power of the Australian people at his own peril.
War is a fundamental and unforgivable stain to leave on the conscience of the Australian people. We will not forget Howard’s action and we will not forgive its horrendous consequences.
As Prime Minister Howard requested in his televised press conference yesterday, have no fear, the Australian people will have their beef with you at the next election!
The peace movement has strengthened its voice. As this country steps into war, we will be strong in our determination to see Australia;
- bring home the troops,
- meet our humanitarian responsibilities in this war,
- enforce accountability for every civilian death, like we do with military deaths,
- and be part of a renewed global commitment to peaceful multilateralism.
The focus of the peace movement up to now has been to stop the war. There have been tremendous successes along the way.
Those who expressed muted dissent when the United Nations passed resolution 1441 have been emboldened to stand up more strongly and refuse a second resolution. A host of countries and leaders around the globe have found the courage to speak out against the most powerful nation the world has ever known because of the support offered by millions of people across the world.
What once appeared likely to be an international UN endorsed coalition to wage war has been whittled down to just the US and its dazed lackeys. Three morally bankrupt governments who are no longer enjoying the support of their people.
The peace movement will call loudly for an immediate end to the war. That call has been based on a vision of peace that is driven by justice, not the rule of might.
We will continue to call for justice – the justice that demands those who make war must face responsibility for the ongoing suffering and disadvantage of the innocent victims. This means both injured and traumatised individuals, and the crippled economy, environment and infrastructure of Iraq.
Justice also means accountability for the decisions that have brought us to this point and the politicians who have made these decisions.
It is clear that this war is illegal and immoral. At the thirteenth hour, the Prime Minister is waving around his Minister’s advice that it is all OK. Every day a growing chorus of legal experts, foreign governments and international bodies makes clear that any legal basis to this strike is a sham.
The Prime Minister who commits Australian troops to an illegal war is committing an illegal act. The Australian people know it and the world knows it. Justice demands that he be held accountable.
This war is a criminal waste – of human lives, of vast sums of money, of natural resources, and of the ongoing health and stability of a nation of people.
It is also a tragic waste of a historic opportunity to take a different path. The Greens have repeatedly put forward a program for peace and long-term stability in the region. Ours is only one of many options that have been dismissed, ignored or misrepresented by a Government that have been bent on a predetermined course of action.
We will not forget. We will not be drowned by the misinformation. The vision for peace is clear even through the fog of war.
Once this fog has lifted, the world will also see the consequences. George Bush’s deceitfully-called war of liberation will inevitably bring a massive humanitarian crisis.
Mr Howard has been over-enthusiastic about committing our troops to war. But he is dismissive about committing Australian resources to cleaning up the mess.
Mr Howard’s crocodile tears for the human rights of the Iraqi people only applies to the actions taken in the past – what about the actions the is pursuing? He takes no responsibility for the human damage caused by his own actions in the present and the future.
This Government spent $12m on fridge magnets that were returned in their thousands by Australians who rejected their politics of fear. Yet they have committed only $10m for rebuilding Iraq.
Estimates for the cost of rebuilding Iraq vary, but a figure of 150 Billion would be conservative. Australia has committed 1% of the military force and yet toss less than 0.006% of the humanitarian cost. That is simply disgusting.
In the short term our responsibilities to the people of Iraq include meeting the needs of a population exposed to chemical contamination, radioactivity from depleted uranium, unexploded cluster bombs, psychological trauma, family breakdown, and lost educational opportunities. All this compounds the damage caused to a generation by widespread malnutrition from the cruel sanctions regime.
We are determined that Iraq will not be abandoned like Afghanistan, nor must it become a US client state. The autonomy and dignity of the Iraqi people must be restored despite the destruction they are about to suffer.
The most wide reaching demand of the peace movement is for the restoration of an international system of justice and co-operation. This Government has been complicit in nothing less than tearing up the compact that has kept the world from major conflict for the last 50 years.
However flawed, the United Nations system has spared us the worldwide wars that plagued the first half of last century. Yet this Government is rejecting the principles of international law and multilateralism, and instead supporting the reinstatement of might is right as the basis of international relations.
In supporting this principle, this Government shows that they have forgotten the lessons learned by the Anzacs and by all those who lived through previous wars. They have betrayed the message of those who warned us from their own experience of the futility of war.
This Government is also responsible for the abandonment of any moral high ground that western democracies might have occupied over the last 50 years. How can we be proud of a peace loving, fair go, democratic tradition when our governments commit us to a war of aggression against a massively weaker foe, against the wishes of its people, against the will of international law? As a rich, educated, peaceful country we have a responsibility to act in broader global interests.
In the past we have taken up this role, including playing a key part in setting up the United Nations system we are now part of undermining. This Prime Minister has made the decision to undermine this international framework without the support of the Australian people, without the vote of this Parliament, and in the face of global opposition.
But perhaps the greatest tragedy of this insane situation is the inability of the US and its allies to believe in the people of Iraq. Much has been said about lack of alternatives to war, but never in this whole sorry story has the US genuinely invested in the power to the Iraqi people to decide their own destiny. Instead through a cruel sanctions regime, they have starved and killed one of the brightest and most dynamic peoples of the world and left them at the mercy of a cruel dictator.
The peace movement continues to believe in the Iraqi people, and say;
- Lift the sanctions now,
- Support democratic organisations,
- Support human rights inspectors,
- Work within the international community to build a culture of peace in the region and hope for democratic change.
If our warlike leaders had heeded this message 25 years ago, or even 10 years ago, and poured the same kind of resources that now fuel the war machine into this people-centred solution, who can say that the Iraqi people could not have been the agents of their own bright destiny?
War is not the only option, and never was.
It is sadly ironic how profoundly the current disregard for democracy and concerted attempt to dismantle multilateralism has backfired. Inspiringly, it has led to a revival of grassroots democracy and a renewed commitment from the overwhelming majority of the world’s countries to negotiation and multilateral forums.
Despite the hypocrisy and cowardice of our political leaders the peace movement still stands for hope. The new peoples superpower will not be silenced.”
[For more news & information about the Australian Greens policies on the war and many other issues see
the Australian Greens
JustPeace is produced by Christine Dann, Tim Hannah and Keith Locke, MP
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christine [dot] dann
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