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Iraq sanctions, letter to Phil Goff

13 December, 2000

Hon. Phil Goff
Minister Of Justice
Parliament Buildings Wellington

Dear Phil,

I am organizing a group of people to sponsor a humanitarian flight to Baghdad. The flight will contain medicines and have medical people aboard and is intended to offer immediate medical relief to the populace and to make a statement against the sanctions that have had such a barbarous effect on ordinary Iraqi people.

We feel that the witness borne by John Pilger and Denis Halliday, who have recently visited New Zealand, to the plight of the people, especially the children, can no longer be ignored by people who think of themselves as caring human beings.

Our flight will be modeled after a number of flights that have left from European countries and, most recently, in the last weeks, from Jordan. We will seek approval from the United Nations for the flight but will not be deterred if it is not granted.

We would like to know what the policy of the New Zealand Government will be to this flight, if the Government would see itself as supporting the effort, opposing it or maintaining a neutral position. We hope that the Government will offer us support for both humanitarian and practical reasons.

New Zealand was a not insignificant trading partner with Iraq before the Gulf War and would obviously be in a good position to resume that trade if we were one of the first countries to show support and to break with the current iniquitous economic policy. Iraq would be a good customer for New Zealand produce, a market estimated to be worth $100M in trade.

The principles of conflict resolution indicate that this is the way out of defusing the current situation that seems to have been created by powerful interests and has little to do with ordinary people or common sense. It is time to say that the emperor has no clothes.

New Zealand has led the world and acted as an inspiration before in international matters - in opposing apartheid and in supporting a nuclear-free South Pacific - and can do so again. The small can lead the mighty to do the right thing when the cause is so obviously the right thing to do. I hope we can count on your support in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Austin Lowell Whitten (Auckalnd)

Cc: Matt Robson

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