The peace vigil at Aotea Square last evening, was peaceful. Many have explained why John Key’s decision to send (non combat?) troops to Iraq was a poor decision, and undemocratic. Russel Norman had said:
… the West waging wars in the Middle East created the conditions that gave rise to Islamic State in the first place.
“We’re basically putting people in harm’s way; some of our troops will be putting their lives in danger and for what?
“For adding to the problem of Western intervention in the Middle East, which in the past has solved nothing and in fact has made it worse,” Dr Norman said.
A group of people had come to the vigil well prepared with their banners and placards – showing a bit of Kiwi DIY ingenuity. The images below are from the peace vigil.
The Auckland vigil was organised by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Tamaki Makaurau.
Several people spoke about why the deployment to Iraq was a bad decision. Keith Locke was one of the speakers.
New Zealand joining the US military crusade in Iraq will probably be counter-productive, helping ISIS garner more Sunni support as it takes on yet another pro-Shia “foreign invader”.
If New Zealand really wants to help the Iraqi people it would be better to provide more aid for the social and economic development in the territory controlled by the Iraqi and Kurdish governments.
On the UN Security Council, New Zealand could be advocating moves to restrain those outside parties who still supply ISIS with arms and other essential supplies.
There’s a familiar face in the background.
Ah – Jeanette Fitzsimons
keeping silent vigil.
Tracey Barnett of wagepeacenz, spoke.
She had a similar message as that on her website:
For those of us who may live far from immediate war and conflict, there is a constructive, humane alternative to military involvement in distant conflicts. It’s direct, it’s local, it can make a huge difference in individual lives. Build the lives that war destroys. Support Aotearoa’s refugees and #WagePeace.
The guy on the right in the pic below (standing beside Penny Bright), also spoke.
He said that all the main religions in the world were peaceful, including Islam. that the Islamic State (AKA ISIS, ISIL, etc) did not represent Islam, but were using the religion for their own ends. He also said that the Iraq Army was doing some pretty nasty things to some other Iraqis, and it was not an army the NZ troops should be training.
Some of the background is explained in Keith Locke’s blog post linked above.
Pretty much everyone in New Zealand agrees that ISIS is a barbaric organisation. Videos of public beheadings and burning people alive turn our stomachs.
Before we rush off to war, we should try to understand how such a barbaric organisation came to administer such a large territory and achieve some degree of support from the local populace.
The answer lies in the way the largely Sunni people in the territory were mistreated by the mainly Shia regimes in Syria and Iraq and the corruption of those regimes.
Even Iraq’s vice-president for reconciliation, Iyad Allawi, recognises this problem. He says there is currently “widespread ethnic cleansing” of Sunnis in the territory surrounding Bagdad and “scores and scores of people… have been expelled from their areas and they can’t go back because of the dominance of militias.” He is backed up by another senior Iraqi official, Dr Hisham al-Hashimi who says the tribes in the area “have started to reflect on the idea of joining ISIS. The tribes believe that there are moves to deport them from their lands.”
In this context US air strikes only make things worse, increasing Sunni support for ISIS. The Sunni populace is not well-disposed to the Americans to start with. They remember the death and destruction visited on their communities following the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the US-led “coalition of the willing”.
Bright gave a surprisingly short speech, with a message that she summed up thus:
War is a racket
… in which some people/corporates profiteer – making money out of others misery.
Penny Bright’s banner links yesterday’s vigil with tomorrow’s (Saturday 7 March 2015) nationwide protests – TPPA: No Deal. The banner focuses on John Key being all about the money for the already wealthy and powerful – in war and peace – and supporting the US government more than the people of NZ.