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Say NO to war march and rally: 2,521 more signatures presented to parliament
13 December 2001
Today a further 2521 signatures on the petition for peaceful resolution were presented to parliament in Wellington. More than a hundred people joined the lively march, led by Brass Razoo, from Midland Park down Lambton Quay through parliament grounds.
Speakers at the rally at parliament included Ross Wilson (Council of Trade Unions) who highlighted the underlying structural problems that breed terrorism. He spoke of the need people have to feel that there are alternative world views, and pointed out that there are very real dangers inherent in having no constraints on capitalism and globalisation. The CTU National Affiliates Council has urged the government to reconsider its decision on the commitment of NZ forces in Afghanistan.
Rebecca Matthews spoke for Alliance Party members who are against the war. She said that the Alliance "conference compelled Alliance MPs in government to review their support for the war. That review must expose that the war against terror is a fraud. Estimates are that 3500 Afghanis have died as a result of US bombing. There have been terrible war crimes committed, and the massacre of prisoners.
There is a humanitarian disaster, a massive breakdown of what national infrastructure there was in Afghanistan, and widespread displacement, poverty and hunger. When bus depots are bombed and Red Cross food warehouses are bombed not once but twice in a week, it becomes clear that this is no mission to get Osama Bin Laden but to destroy a country.
We are farther away, not closer, from addressing the causes of terrorism.
The Alliance Party has been making it clear that we do not support taking the so-called war on terror to Iraq or anywhere else. I hope that the review will lead to a recognition that it would be wrong to continue supporting this war against the Afghan people.
So, in the theme of today's rally, the grass roots of the Alliance say no to this war. With our continued work, and with public activities organised by anti-war groups around the country, we hope that the Alliance caucus will also say no to this war."
The statement from all the Roman Catholic and Anglican Bishops of New Zealand (from their meeting in Wellington on 8 November 2001) concerning the bombing in Afghanistan was read to the rally, as well as the text of the petition.
After accepting the petition signatures, Keith Locke gave a powerful speech condemning the attacks on the people of Afghanistan and those who support the 'war on terrorism'. He concluded with a quote from the petition "matching terror is not the answer".
The speakers were followed by a minute of noise to express outrage and anger at the futility and horror of war - parliament grounds rang to the sound of screams, yelling, banging, off key trumpets shrieking, sirens and amplified chants.
Within an hour of the march and rally, a further 230 signatures for the petition arrived at the PMA office! There will be a further presentation of signatures to parliament when it reconvenes in February - so keep those petition boards circulating! If you need more copies, the petition is available on-line at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/pet001.htm
The march and rally were organised by Peace Action Wellington.