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Letter to Helen Clark
1 November 2001
Rt Hon Helen Clark,
We appeal to the New Zealand Government to bring the SAS forces home now and to publicly condemn this totally unjustified war.
The tragic attacks of September 11 were diabolical, but killing and maiming innocent Afghani civilians with cluster bombs is no less murderous. No case was ever proved against bin Laden - as the British Government freely admitted - and all negotiation efforts from the Taleban have been angrily rebuffed by the United States.
The United States is about to embark on an ground force invasion of Afghanistan. Carpet bombing with B 52s threatens to destroy what is left of Afghanistan's infrastructure. The toll of civilian casualties will mount to horrific proportions, the likelihood of terror attacks world-wide will increase, and the Afghani people will be condemned to ongoing violent civil war.
In the British Mirror John Pilger describes the 'war on terrorism' as a fraud, and points out that not a single terrorist implicated in the attacks has been caught or killed in Afghanistan. Surely his words are now ringing true as the United States is explicitly moving from seeking out bin Laden and his al Qaeda network, to working to install a new regime in Afghanistan.
Ending the Taleban regime may seem no bad thing. However, there are strong indications that the replacement regime will be Taleban Mark 11. US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfield has described a strategy to 'change the military balance over time' and to bring together the Northern Alliance, anti-Taleban tribes in the south and factions within the Taleban.
Organisations such as the US based Human Rights Watch are unambiguous in their condemnation of the human rights record of the commanders associated with the emerging coalition of opposition forces in Afghanistan. The abuses of the Northern Alliance and other factions in the civil war have included 'indiscriminate aerial bombardment and shelling, direct attacks on civilians, summary executions, rape, persecution on the basis of religion or ethnicity, the recruitment and use of children as soldiers and the use of antipersonnel land-mines.'
Afghanistan has been stricken by civil strife, drought and endless self-seeking intervention by more powerful nations. Its people need humanitarian aid not bombs and missiles. New Zealand must take a stand now or it will bear moral responsibility for a human tragedy of unimaginable proportions.
Copies to Hon Phil Goff, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Hon Matt Robson, Minister for Disarmament; Keith Locke, MP, Green Party Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs.