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A Year of Shame
was how Keith Locke characterised the invasion and occupation of Iraq by US-led forces on March 19, on the eve of the anniversary of the attack on Iraq. At the same time, the Green Party called on the New Zealand Government to withdraw its soldiers from the occupation force.
“History will record 20th March 2003 as day of shame,” said Keith. “It was the day the world’s superpower brazenly violated international law and invaded an Arab nation.
“In the 12 months since, Bush, Blair and Howard’s justification for the assault has proven to be built on lies. There are no ‘weapons of mass destruction’ – other than those in the US arsenal – there was no ‘clear and present danger’ and there was no Iraqi alliance with al-Qaeda.
“No one laments the end of Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime, but we should lament the way the Bush administration has trampled on peacemaking mandate of the United Nations and civilised relations between other nations…
“Yesterday in the House, Michael Cullen, speaking for the Prime Minister, admitted our army engineers in Iraq, as well as doing reconstruction work, could be assisting British military patrols by repairing their Rigid Raider and Combat Patrol Boats.
“For the sake of Iraqi sovereignty and the sake of New Zealand’s reputation as a peaceful, principled nation the Government should take the opportunity of the first anniversary of the Iraqi calamity to recall our troops, in the same manner as the incoming Spanish government,” said Keith.
”We Can’t Allow the SIS to Act as Political Police”
said Keith on March 17. He went on to say that the SIS is discriminating against the democratic rights of refugees who have settled here, by denying them citizenship.
“Presumably the three people referred to by the SIS Director yesterday as a ‘security risk’ are well-settled and law-abiding residents, otherwise their permits would have been revoked,” said Mr Locke, the Green Foreign Affairs spokesperson.
“The SIS would be violating our human rights legislation if it stopped refugees getting passports to travel abroad to campaign for democracy in their homeland.
“After the Zaoui case, we can’t trust the SIS to get it right. They tend to act on intelligence from overseas agencies which are biased against anti-government groups campaigning for social justice or national rights.
“The Greens don’t want the government to succumb to anti-terrorist scaremongering from National, ACT and New Zealand First and cancel the residency of these three people,” said Mr Locke. “We are heartened that Immigration Minister Paul Swain has said the government doesn’t envisage further action against them.”
Action Alert – Save Acehnese Prisoners From Torture
. The Indonesian Human Rights Committee is asking people to write letters and e-mails in support of Acehnese negotiators who have been given long prison terms and run the risk of severe ill-treatment. Details below.
:Ref: UA/204 1st March 2004
Aceh Human Rights Online (AHRO) condemns the Aceh High Court decision on January 14 2004 that upheld the verdict of a lower court which last year convicted the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) negotiators of treason and terrorism and sentenced them to long prison terms. AHRO is concerned that the negotiators will be tortured. It calls on international intervention to release the GAM negotiators who had been appointed by GAM with the consent of the government of Indonesia.
: You could write a letter and send to the list below the Background Information, a model letter has been provided.
It would also be good to send a copy to Hon Phil Goff, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Parliament Buildings Wellington. You can email but it is better to post – no stamp required. He is aware of this issue and some reminders would be excellent. (If you prefer email it is
ministers [dot] govt [dot] nz
In the weeks before the Peace Talks in Tokyo, May 2003, under the auspices of a diplomatic group composed of the United States, the European Union, Japan and the World Bank, the Indonesian Government (GoI) issued an ultimatum that GAM renounce the call for independence or no further talks would take place – this was out with both the spirit and the letter of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) signed in Geneva on 9 December 2002. The CoHA left the political end goal of both parties off the agenda. Its focus was to bring an end to the bloodshed and to embark on a process whereby sustainable peace could be achieved in Aceh.
Despite the fact that GAM negotiators had been arrested several times – their release secured thanks to international pressure- GAM continued to be committed to the peace process. But on 18 May the negotiatiors were again arrested, and they were tortured.
The GoI ignored the European Parliament’s Resolution on Aceh and Papua dated June 5th 2003 urging the Indonesian Government and GAM to return to the negotiating table and for the Indonesian army to withdraw.
Since the start of the military operation, the Indonesian government has severely limited the flow of information from Aceh. The government has interfered with the ability of local journalists to cover the war. It has denied access to Aceh to almost all diplomats, independent international observers, and international human rights organizations. It has also severely restricted access to United Nations and non-governmental humanitarian agencies and the foreign media.
A report by the US-based Human Rights Watch released on December 18, 2003 states that extra-judicial murders, “disappearances”, physical abuse, arbitrary detention and restrictions on freedom of movement are now commonplace in Aceh. The report was compiled from the testimonies of Acehnese refugees in Malaysia.
President of the Republic of Indonesia
President Megawati Sukarnoputri
ri [dot] go [dot] id
On humanitarian grounds I am protesting the arrest, torture and continued detention of the members of the GAM negotiating team and call for their immediate and unconditional release.
Five negotiators are being held at POLDA (Regional Police) jail in Banda Aceh:
- Teungku Muhammad Usman Lampoh Awe, born 16 Oct 1935; sentenced to 13 years in prison;
- Tengku Sofyan Ibrahim Tiba, born 17 July 1947; to 15 years;
- Teungku Nasruddin Ahmad, born 21 Jan 1955; to 13 years;
- Teuku Kamuaruzzaman SH, born 20 Sept 1960; to 13 years;
- Teungku Amni Ahmad Marzuki, born 20 Sept. 1965; to 12 years
In addition, two more persons were included in one of the dialogues brokered by the Geneva-based Henri Dunant Centre:
- Cut Nur Asyikin; sentenced to 11 years. He is held at Lhoknga Military Jail, Lhoknga, Greater Aceh district.
- Ir. Irwandi Yusuf MSc; sentenced to 7 years by Banda Aceh District Court; his appeal to Aceh High Court resulted in his sentence increased to 9 years. He is held at Keudah jail, Banda Aceh.
I am also seeking assurances that GAM negotiating team will not be tortured.
Furthermore I demand the immediate end of martial law in Aceh and that immediate and unrestricted access be allowed to all areas of Aceh for UN human rights monitors, international and local human rights organisations, in order to provide ongoing human rights monitoring, and in particular to conduct a full and impartial investigation of the recent violations committed by the Indonesian mlitary. I request the GoI guarantees the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout Aceh in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards and urge the GoI to resume peace talks with GAM.
Copies sent to:
George W Bush
, President of the United States of America
whitehouse [dot] gov
H.E Mr. Makmur Widodo
, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations
un [dot] int
Mr Kofi Anan
Secretary General of the United Nations
un [dot] org
Mr Mike Smith
, Chair of UN Commission on Human Rights
ohchr [dot] org
Petition – End NZ support for the ‘war on terrorism’
– is now available online. There is a link to it from the
Global Day of Action page
or you can go directly to it at
End NZ Support for the ‘War on Terror
The petition is to the NZ government calling on it to end its military and political support for the US government-led ‘war on terrorism’, and to recall all NZ military personnel who are involved in it.
The final deadline for return of signatures on this petition is 30 June 2004, but it is likely that there will be at least one presentation to parliament before then so early return of signatures would be great.
Printed petition forms are also available by
xtra [dot] co [dot] nz
(Peace Movement Aotearoa)
saying how many you require, and include the physical address to mail them to.
The Occupying Power Creates a ‘Constitution’
. Among the many less-than-legitimate actions of the American occupying forces in Iraq is the dubious creation of an equally dubious ‘constitution’. Phyllis Bennis, a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and a contributor to
Foreign Policy in Focus
, has written a
set of talking points about the constitution
and the process by which it was created. See the excerpts below.
“The signing of the interim Iraqi “Constitution” by the Governing Council represents a significant step in U.S. efforts to legitimize its invasion and occupation of Iraq. By achieving the codification in a U.S.-supervised process of an ostensibly “Iraqi” legal document, the U.S. as occupying power is hoping that its planned June 30th “transfer of power” will be accepted globally as the “restoration of sovereignty to Iraq.” In fact, that “transfer of power” will not end the U.S. occupation, will not lead to the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and will not result in any real sovereignty for Iraq. The Constitution itself implies recognition of its impotence, as it recognizes that all “laws, regulations, orders, and directives” issued by the U.S. occupation authorities will remain in force.
“The new Iraqi Constitution lacks legitimacy. It was drafted under U.S. supervision by a body hand-chosen by the U.S. military occupation authorities, and subject to final approval by the U.S. proconsul, Paul Bremer.
“The Constitution describes only a vague process to select the new transitional government to which the U.S. will “transfer power” on June 30th.
“The Iraq Governing Council holds on to power. Since the Constitution says nothing about how the interim government will actually be selected, the unspoken understanding is that the Governing Council – perhaps enlarged by additional U.S.-selected individuals, perhaps in its current form – will remain the center of Iraqi authority.
“The Constitution calls for a federal system of government, in which, despite language to the contrary, the sectors are almost certain to be determined by Iraqis’ ethnic and religious identity. This causes three major problems: 1) there is no representation for Iraqis who identify first as Iraqi citizens, and only secondarily as Shia’a, Kurds, or whatever. 2) The ethnic/religious quotas assume that all Kurds, Shia’a, Sunni, Assyrians, or others represent monolithic political blocs. 3) A system based on ethnic or religious sectoral interests is inherently unstable, in most cases giving minority and majority populations too little or too much power, and undermining national identity as Iraqis.
“The Constitution creates a federal system but leaves vague what powers remain with the national government and what devolves to the regions.
“The Constitution asserts a set of individual political rights, as well as economic and social rights significantly advanced, though not absolutely unprecedented, in the Arab world.
“The relationship between religious law and individual liberty remains unclear.
“Issues missing from the Constitution. The new document does not address crucial questions even for the interim period itself. It does not identify the means of choosing the new interim government beyond “deliberations and consultations.” It leaves undefined the future legality and power of sectarian militias existing in a legal vacuum. The language states that militias and armed factions outside of the to-be-created Transitional Government “are prohibited, except as provided by federal law,” implying that a law drafted in the future granting the Kurdish Pesh Merga forces or a Shia’a militia or anything else would be deemed within the constitutional framework.'”
JustPeace was produced by Christine Dann, Tim Hannah and Keith Locke, MP
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