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‘New’ defence policy - breached already ?
3 July 2000
The Defence Policy Framework (June 2000), advertised by the government as a ‘new’ approach to the armed forces, is proving in practice to be the same as the ‘old’ approach. The Framework states that 'New Zealand will not engage in military co-operation or exercises with the armed forces of states which sanction the use of their armed forces to suppress human rights.' (point 18).
Yet elements of the NZ armed forces are currently taking part in a series of exercises with air force and naval units from Britain, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia as part of the Five Power Defence Arrangement. These exercises began on 24 June and will continue until 18 July.
The British government has clearly used its armed forces to suppress human rights in the past and continues to do so today. An article in ‘The Independent’ (23 June 2000), confirms that British and US warplanes continue their bombing raids within Iraq. These attacks are justified as being necessary because of alleged Iraqi breaches of ‘no-fly zones’ - those zones imposed by the US and Britain, without even the facade of United Nations support.
David Usborne’s article points out that US and British warplanes have flown 21,600 sorties, killing at least 300 Iraqis and injuring around 800, in the 18 months of intense bombings since December 1998. Iraq says that at least two-thirds of those killed have been civilians (these figures are Iraqi estimates, which have been partially confirmed by an independent UN survey). The warplanes fly at high altitudes to prevent injury to the pilots. The Pentagon says that nearly 280,000 sorties have been flown in the no-fly zones by US and British warplanes since 1991.
It seems to us that there can be no greater abuse of human rights than bombing people from a height of 20,000 feet; and until the British government stops its armed forces from committing these atrocities, then clearly the NZ armed forces should not exercise with them.
If you wish to convey your views on this matter to the government, you should send them to:
* Phone calls and faxes (all to be prefixed by 04 by those of you outside of Wellington): Mark Burton, Minister of Defence, office - tel 471 9715, fax 495 8465; Helen Clark, Prime Minister, office - tel 471 9998, fax 473 3579; Jim Anderton, Deputy Prime Minister, office - tel 471 9011, fax 495 8441; The Cabinet (collectively), office - tel 471 9743, fax 472 6332.
Ideally you should send a copy of your correspondence to Matt Robson, Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, office - tel 470 6659, fax 495 8462; Keith Locke, Green Party Spokesperson for Defence - tel 470 6709, fax 472 6003; and a copy of your correspondence and of any replies to PMA for our files.
Alternatively you can write to any of the above, your letter should be addressed to the relevant person and posted (no stamp needed) to Parliament Buildings, Wellington.
You could also send your thoughts on this to the national/nationally distributed media : Christchurch Press, fax (03) 364 8492, firstname.lastname@example.org; Dominion, fax (04) 4740257; Evening Post, fax; (04) 474 0237, email@example.com; New Zealand Herald, fax (09) 373 6434, firstname.lastname@example.org; Sunday Star Times, fax (09) 309 0258; Press Association, fax (04) 473 7480; Radio New Zealand, fax (04) 473 0185; Listener, fax (09) 360 3831, email@example.com
Link to the alert - Defence Policy Framework now available