Help PMA grow | Petition forms | Site map | PMA main page
Lyttelton Peace Parade, Moana Cole
"I have heard angry rhetoric by some Americans, including many of our nation's leaders, who advise a heavy dose of revenge and punishment. To those leaders, I would like to make it clear that my family and I take no comfort in your words of rage. If you choose to respond to this incomprehensible brutality by perpetuating violence against other innocent human beings, you may not do so in the name of justice for my husband." (Amber Amundson, whose husband, Craig Scott Amundson was killed in the Pentagon on 11 September, 2001.)
September 11 should be a time to mourn and remember those killed in the devastating terrorist attacks. But the reality since the attacks is that our shock, horror and grief have been cynically manipulated to pursue an agenda of racism, hatred and violence. The kind of agenda Amber Amundson warned against.
On October 7 2001, the US launched a war against Afghanistan in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11. Despite the availability of alternatives to military action under international law, the New Zealand government, in the hopes of finalizing a free trade agreement with the US, contributed SAS troops.
It remains the responsibility of the Church to ensure Christians follow the example of the life of Christ, who chose to suffer rather than kill.
It remains the responsibility of our Church to awake us from our collective amnesia and remind us that al-Qaeda was armed and financed by the CIA via the Pakistani military when it served US global interests in ousting the Soviets from Afghanistan.
It remains the responsibility of our Church to cry : "Thou shall not kill!" after eleven months of constant aerial bombardment that has further exacerbated Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis. Over 3000 civilians have been killed; Villages, Red Cross buildings and wedding parties bombed. There is no end in sight to the military occupation of Afghanistan that has terrorised children, women and men. We must demand that our troops return to from Afghanistan and the war against the Afghan people cease.
The latest installment of the ‘war against terror’ is the planning and preparation for another war against Iraq. Our Church must not succumb to another bout of amnesia, and instead remind us that Saddam Hussein came to power via a military coup supported by the US, his poisonous gasses and deadly arms happily supplied by the West when he pursued an agenda favorable to Western interests. When Saddam was perceived a threat to US oil interests, the 1991Gulf War subjected Iraq to the most concentrated bombing campaign in history, the Pentagon announcing it conducted 110,000 aerial sorties dropping 88,500 tons of bombs. The war resulted in 67 000 Iraqi deaths as well as grave damage to Iraq’s infrastructure with losses estimated at $170 billion. Deliberate bombing of water treatment facilities during the Gulf War degraded the water quality leading to the outbreak of diseases such as cholera and typhoid.
Sanctions-based 'holds' have blocked the rebuilding of much of Iraq’s water treatment infrastructure. Additionally, sanctions have blocked the rebuilding of the electricity sector that powers pumps and other vital water treatment equipment. This has resulted in 800,000 Iraqi children 'chronically malnourished'. Even with conservative assumptions, the total of all excess deaths of the under five population exceeds 400,000. Combined with the deaths of older children and adults, this adds up to a great and unjustifiable humanitarian tragedy.
Since the Gulf War, further military operations have been launched against Iraq, by aircraft and cruise missiles at a rate of one strike per week. Some of these attacks targeted sites in Baghdad or other populated areas and resulted in civilian casualties. The US and UK are once again engaging in cynical manipulation of us to justify another war against the "least of our brothers and sisters".
As a church we profess much in the way of peace, justice and mercy. But how do we witness to the redemption it promises? Members of our parish recently went on retreat for a day together to discuss what underlies the ‘war on terrorism’, our own complicity by way of our silence and the subsequent despair we feel. Our reflections reveal we continue to be under the obligation to be faithful to the teachings of the non-violent Christ. We are struck with the insight that we learn compassion and justice by what we do "for the least of our brothers and sisters". We pray to be led by the gospels and teachings of our church when responding to crises, and to be wary of agendas in contradiction with our faith. We want to take our faith to the public domain and speak against the planning and preparation for war. By doing so, we reaffirm our belief in the ultimate victory of good over evil, of love over hatred. It is a path not accepted by the world. As Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker said: "We are trying to spread the Gospel of Peace ... in doing this we are accounted fools. It is the Folly of the Cross in the eyes of an unbelieving world".