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PMA newsletter - February-April 1998
By now those of you who don't get the Action Alerts have probably been thinking we've all shut up shop and gone home ... while those of you who do have been inundated with piles of paper ! So apologies for the delay in this reaching you, and extra special apologies to Melanie and Mia for the delay in mailing out the National Peace Workshops' leaflets.
We have really been extraordinarily busy since the last Newsletter - February began with Edwina on annual leave which was cut abruptly short with the prospect of yet another
military attack on the people of Iraqand the decision of the NZ government to join in. We put out Action Alerts every few days until the prospect of war diminished; the number of enquiries about this and other peace issues increased dramatically in response.
March zoomed by with us all primarily focussed on trying to catch up with the backlog of work from February, following up on contacts here and overseas, and incorporating all the 'new' people into our expanding contact and mailing lists, while trying to keep up with our usual work. March brought its own alarms and alerts with the resumption of the
US sub-critical nuclear weapons testsand the request to facilitate discussion forums for peace people's responses to the
Vietnam Veterans' Parade 98to mention only two.
Just as things were calming down in April and it looked as though our plans to get the Newsletter out by the second week might actually happen, our office was broken into and a considerable amount of our archive and reference material was removed - rather a disruption there.
So, like we said - hectic times since the last Newsletter ... and we haven't even mentioned the various national networking meetings we've attended !
Thanks to Briony, Christine, Medini and Mike who have continued their valiant volunteering efforts; welcome to Pauline Ngan who has now joined us; and thanks to all of you who have sent us messages of support over the past few months, that's what really keeps us going ! Kia kaha.
National peace workshops
29 May - 1 June 1998
(also known as Queen's Birthday Weekend)
in Otautahi / Christchurch
Book now for this fascinating, fun-filled, informative and inspiring weekend - see enclosed pink flyer for more details and the registration form.
If for some reason your Newsletter does not contain this invaluable item which no peace person should find themselves without, then please contact PMA immediately and it will be posted right out to you.
For other enquiries, please contact the organisers by writing to NPW, c/o 20 Valley Road, Cashmere, Christchurch or tel Melanie (03) 337 3465 or Mia (03) 385 4889.
PMA Annual General Meeting
will be held at the National Peace Workshops. If you wish to add items to the agenda , please ensure you have them to the PMA office by 11 May.
Nomination forms for the Working Group are available from the office - these should be returned to us no later than 25 May.
The final version of the revised PMA constitution will be ready for ratification at the AGM. Thanks to all of you who commented on the earlier draft revisions, the final set of comments has now been circulated. Please contact the office if you require a copy of the final draft - it will be available two weeks before the AGM.
New from PMA !
From mid-June, you will be able to catch up with peace news and events on our new web-site :
If you or your group would like us to put in links to your web-site, then please let us know. In the meantime, why not check out the web-site so very kindly provided for us by Kyle since February which focusses on work against another Gulf war :http://www.homepages.ihug.co.nz/~jits/nowar/
and new at PMA !
Kia ora, I've been working at the PMA office now since late February, largely on the task of fundraising for PMA. Elsewhere in this newsletter you'll find details of one of our money-making schemes (aka the PMA garage sale), and I'm busy working on others such as securing grant funding for upcoming PMA projects.
I'm on the lookout for other fundraising ideas so if you have any ingenious ones please contact me - however I'm leaving to study in England in August so don't leave it too late to get in touch ! I've also been toiling away on various other things like the revisions to PMA's constitution, sending out lots of mailouts, and generally helping to keep things at PMA running as smoothly as ever ... Pauline
Things to do, news and views ...
Vietnam Veterans' Parade 98
28-31 May, Wellington
You may recall we brought this to your attention in the June/July 1997 Newsletter when the Wellington City Council voted to provide $32,000 for this event from funding "for cultural events that will attract tourists".
Well, since then the commercial organisers have received a further $300,000 from Lotteries and the government ...
as well as an unknown amount from their 'proud sponsors' General Motors of Canada, Experience the NZ Way, Williment World Travel, Lion Breweries, Air NZ, NZ RSA, and Pub Charity Inc.
For the past month PMA has provided a forum for Wellington peace people to discuss responses to the events - initially this was to confer on what kind of protest most would feel comfortable with as there was a wide range of opinion on whether or not there should be any at all. As an understanding was reached about this, the forums are now used for planning joint protests and actions, and to share new information as it comes in.
While the organisers have named the event 'Parade '98 Vietnam remembered: remember the fallen, honour the living', protest is focussed on the celebratory aspects (especially the ticker tape parade at 10am on 30 May) and the need for all aspects and viewpoints on the war to be remembered. Another emphasis is on the controversial aspects of the war - it was controversial then and it is now; and on the continued need for relief for the people of Vietnam whose lives and lands are still affected by a war which ended more than 20 years ago.
While Parade '98 is to be held in Wellington, it is a national event - and peace people here are asking you all around the country to become involved in putting an alternative viewpoint. Suggestions for action outside of Wellington are :
Contact details for Wellington newspapers are : Dominion , PO Box 1297, Wellington, tel (04) 474 000, fax (04) 474 0350; Evening Post , PO Box 3740, Wellington, tel (04) 474 0444, fax (04) 474 0237; City Voice , PO Box 11 647, Wellington, tel (04) 385 6711, fax (04) 385 6767.
More information and a report on each meeting are available from PMA; please send us copies of any letters you send / replies you receive so we can share them at the forum.
Just received - Pentagon figures for the Vietnam War death toll are put as 1,000,000 'Communists'; 183,000 South Vietnamese (? non-communists ?) and 57,000 US soldiers; they say the war cost the US $110 billion.
War against the people of Iraq
from one controversial war to another - we're sure you are all familiar with the events of recent months so will not repeat them for you here. The level of protest here and overseas as the US (NZ government etc) prepared for war was truly amazing - protest details poured into the office at an almost overwhelming rate ! As well as protest to stop another military attack, the call for the ongoing war against the people of Iraq to be stopped by the lifting of sanctions was also prominent.
As well, we received an astonishing amount of information about what was going on which we tried to summarise in our Action Alerts. The UNWIT (UNiversal Women's Inspection Team) attempted presidential palace inspection in Wellington was the subject of many enquiries from around the world, as well as requests for permission to reprint/ pass on the media release.
Photos of this action, and the visit of Auckland peace people to Army HQ requesting NZ troops take food and medicine rather than weapons with them, are on the web-site http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~jits/nowar/
What action can we take about this now ?
Make make arrangements with your local groups for a meeting / vigil place if an attack should suddenly occur - let us know what it is and we'll pass it on.
IRAQ SANCTION MEDICAL ALERT GROUP
Recently set up in Wellington by public health physicians, ISMAG has two aims :
They have put together a fact sheet outlining the public health disaster created by the sanctions, and the NZ government position on this. To contact ISMAG write to PO Box 7343, Wellington or visit http://shell.ihug.co.nz/~
If you can raise or send money for medical supplies, your cheque made payable to UNICEF Iraq Appeal, should go to : ISMAG, c/0 NZ Committee for UNICEF, Level 4, 57 Willis Street, Wellington. Or you can phone 0800 243 575 437 (0800 2HELP KIDS).
NZ troops in the Gulf
and of course, another ongoing action is to call for the immediate return of the NZ troops who are getting up to who knows what in the Gulf.
We received a report from Agence France-Presse in late February stating that Israeli, American and British commandos were operating inside Iraq preparing for a US attack; but a report in the Dominion in April stated the 22 SAS soldiers "have been in Kuwait since late February, working in joint search and rescue groups with Australian SAS commandos". So what do you think ?
According to Jenny Shipley, the two RNZAF Orions ... "will remain declared as part of the Coalition force, but repositioned to New Zealand". Goodness ! The commander of the Orions is quoted as saying they are disappointed they "weren't able to go forward and do the job they were trained to do", and there is "still hope" the Orions would get to the Gulf. Lovely.
If you are thinking of writing to Jenny Shipley about this, then you should be aware that replies received to date from her office are all the same - despite their being individually addressed and apparently signed by herself.
Based on the figures supplied in Parliament, we have calculated to date that the troops' deployment has cost $171,000 as at 22 April. If you add $2,000 per day since then you will keep yourself up to date with the cost.
Still, suppose it's small change when compared with the February Wall Street Journal report on US plans to keep 33,400 troops, hundreds of aircraft and dozens of ships in the Gulf indefinitely at an extra cost of $1 billion this year.
NZ Defense spending
while we're on the topic of unnecessary, wasteful expenditure, what did you all think of Paul East's suggestion at the end of February that TVNZ should be sold and a third frigate should be bought ?
Or the news that the tender for new armoured vehicles has gone out - British, French, German, Austrian, South Korean, Canadian and US companies have expressed an interest in supplying them at a cost of NZ$160 million. Tenders are also being called for a $30 million contract for updated communications systems for the army and new electronic systems for the Orions.
Do you think these costs are somehow balanced by the estimated $30 million 'injection into the local economy' at Whangarei following the announcement that Tenix (formerly Transfield Defence Systems) had obtained extra work on the ANZAC frigates ?
And what of the March visit of Australian defence minister Ian McLachlan and defence force chief General John Baker ... they came to Wellington to go on (yet again) about the 'worryingly low' levels of NZ defence spending - Campaign Against Militarism put forward an alternative view outside the hotel where Ian McLachlan was addressing a business lunch.
And finally - our very favourite strange suggestion; Ian McLachlan said in Auckland that there are 'enormous opportunities' for NZ and Australian defence forces to buy equipment together ... so we can 'save ourselves some money'. Run that one b(u)y us again ???
Base closures still uncertain
Following up on the report in our Dec 97-Jan 98 Newsletter more publicity has been given to the possibility of base closures - latest suggestions are that the plan should be abandoned (Geoff Braybrooke); closing the army and airforce bases in Auckland and moving most troops out of Waiouru (latest draft of the Defence Force real estate review); closing Devonport and moving the navy to Picton or Whangarei (Tenix - who would then own the base and lease it to the navy); and that Marlborough has a lot to offer the navy (Marlborough District Council Mayor Liz Davidson).
Hmmm - why not simply close them all and solve the problem !
NZ defence links
Recent ideas on this include ... we should train with the US armed forces but not rejoin ANZUS (Helen Clark); we should resume defence links with the US and abandon our nuclear free legislation (Dominion editorial, 27-03-98); and a special thank you from Don McKinnon to Australia for going the extra mile to continue defence links with NZ during the row with the US.
Defence links confirmed recently are : closer links with Australia (agreed to in meetings with Ian McLachlan); closer links with France following the first major exercise of a French warship in our waters in March; and a move towards closer military links with China with the 'goodwill' visit by two Chinese warships to Auckland for four days from 27 April. This will be followed by a visit to Shanghai by an NZ frigate later in the year and the posting of a military attache to the NZ embassy in Beijing soon.
Note - re the French warship participation, this appears to be part of a larger move by the French government to increase its defence links and other ties with South Pacific Forum nations following the 'closure' of its Pacific nuclear test sites. After Moruroa - France in the South Pacific , by Nic Maclellan and Jean Chesneaux, details this move. It is available from : Ocean Press, GPO Box 3279, Melbourne 3001, Australia for Aus$29-95 + $5 p&p.
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