Operation Burnham Inquiry: Disestablish the NZSIS & A fundraiser for the Victims

“The disturbing findings of the Operation Burnham Inquiry released today require the NZ government to take decisive steps to disestablish the NZ Special Air Service (NZSAS),” said Peace Action Wellington member Valerie Morse.

“After nearly a decade of denials and outright lies, the truth about Operation Burnham has been exposed: war crimes committed by NZ forces in Afghanistan. This inquiry found that the NZSAS murdered civilians, that these were not investigated and senior military leadership lied to the government about these actions. The National Party Minister of Defence of the time Wayne Mapp continued these lies to the public despite having been fully briefed.”

“It isn’t enough to reform the NZSAS and the NZDF. This inquiry finds deep and systemic problems. We need to remember this isn’t even the first case of NZSAS illegal and immoral conduct in Afghanistan. Author Jon Stephenson documented the raid of  Band-E-Timur including the death of a child and the handing over of 50-70 men to be tortured by Afghan forces at Bagram Air Force Base. The NZDF lied about that operation for years, and slandered the journalist.”

“While the recommendations of the report are useful, they are woefully inadequate. The problems with the NZSAS go beyond those outlined in this report; a special forces unit is unnecessary and dangerous in a democractic country.”

“Frankly, this report just adds to our knowledge of a myriad of other issues within NZDF including ongoing sexual assault. We demand that the government go much further than these superficial recommendations. The disestablishment of the NZSAS is the proper course of action given this report today.”

“Given the role of Wayne Mapp in covering up what had happened and his conscious decision to mislead the NZ public about war crimes, there should be legal consequences for him as well.”

“Peace Action Wellington has started a Give-A-Little Fundraiser for the victims of Operation Burnham. We encourage people to give if they are able. The link is here: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/operation-burnham-afghan-family-victims-reparation.”

“We acknowledge that this will not undo the damage done in our name to these families. We intend this donation as both a respectful apology for our complicity in these deaths and injuries and as a message of solidarity to the people of Afghanistan. We demand an end to NZ complicity in wars in Afghanistan and around the world.”

 

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Cancel RIMPAC video plea issued

A month out from the start of RIMPAC, the US Navy led military wargames, peace groups are calling on Minister of Defence Ron Mark to pull the plug on NZ’s involvement this year with a special video message.

WATCH THE VIDEO ON YOUTUBE

New Zealanders are totally opposed to supporting a new cold war in the Pacific between the US and China. Sending a NZ warship along to these exercises indicates that New Zealand has sided with the US. This is a dangerous and unnecessary position.

We have a huge history of promoting a nuclear-free and independent Pacific. That vision needs reinforcing, not undermining.

New Zealanders do not want to be a part of the military build-up in the Pacific – a build-up that has significantly accelerated in the last five years. Yet this Minister appears to be on a warpath with his insistence upon sending sailors during a pandemic and his strident defence of his new weapons purchases including $102 million for armoured vehicles that were just replaced during the last Labour government.

We have heard very little from the Labour Party or the Green Party on these key peace issues. This is in spite of our original letter to the Prime Minister asking her to reconsider New Zealand’s deployment this year, and the Greens historical support of peace and justice. We want to know why the relevant politicians are mute, and why Cabinet is sending troops and technology off for provocative wargames and funnelling billions to weapons dealers for unnecessary arms purchases that are so out-of-step with the priorities of ordinary people.

This government needs to carefully consider New Zealand’s military relationships, training exercises and spending. Ignoring the changing geo-political landscape and blindly following the US is a recipe for disaster. We need a renewed commitment to demilitarising the Pacific.

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Now it’s new armoured vehicles for the army

Today, the government has revealed $104 million for new armoured vehicles to replace ones that were just purchased in 2004 under the last Labour government.

Does the NZDF need armoured vehicles?

No. The Labour/Green/NZ First weapons funding is cloaked in the rhetoric of humanitarian aid and climate change, making it more palatable to the NZ public but no less bullshit than the National party’s refrain of “supporting our traditional allies.” Instead, these new armoured vehicles are for combat situations in far-flung wars when our “friends” requests it, and very worryingly, also for assisting police domestically (think #BlackLivesMatter, think militarised police).

Wait. Didn’t they just get some other new weapons?

Yep. They sure did. It started with the upgrade of the weapons systems on the navy’s frigates. That blew out by over $200 million dollars – that’s right – that was the cost overrun, not the full cost which now nears three-quarters of a billion dollars, all of it going to nuclear weapons giant Lockheed Martin. Oh, and Lockheed also scored the massive contract for another cool $1.5 billion of our tax dollars for the new C130 troop transport planes. This is on top of the $2.4 billion going to Boeing for some new P8 spy planes.

The NZDF push for upgrading military equipment is coming at least as much from the United States and Australia as from any domestic need or war-hungry constituency. Trump has loosened restrictions on exports and pushed overseas weapons sales as a key part of US economic survival. He has travelled the world, haranguing world leaders to spend more on weapons. New Zealand has not been left out of that conversation. Stuff reports that, “Some Bushmasters are already in service with the SAS and they’re widely used across other Five Eyes nations.” Bingo.

So why isn’t anyone saying anything?

Good question. The National government planned a $20 billion spend up, and this government has seen to it that it happens.  New Zealand First is leading the charge, for sure, but the idea that climate change and humanitarian aid is military work is very much on the Green Party. They embraced the idea that NZ needs a standing army which they have reconciled with their principle of non-violence. Go figure.  Noam Chomsky will tell you ‘military humanism’ is an oxymoron – militaries are made to kill people not aid them. And there is a good reason why that delineation should remain.

#DefundTheMilitary

We should all have had just about enough of this insanity tbh: there is no military threat to New Zealand. The military will tell you that themselves. There is, however, widespread financial hardship, gross inequality and deprivation – and not just because of Covid, but because of decades of destroying our social safety net that provided adequate housing and guaranteed employment for all.

Military spending robs us: it robs us of health care for our elderly parents; it robs us of childcare for our babies, it robs us of benefits people can live on, it robs us of art, music and culture, it robs us of housing. Just as an example, the $1 billion that is being spent on five new airplanes to fly soldiers around is twice as much money as that needed for the Christchurch hospital project ($440 million). Instead, the hospital project got a capped $150 million an amount doctors have said is a “train wreck” and creates a building that is “not fit for purpose.” In Whangarei, clinicians have begged for a new hospital and doctors are openly worried about the safety of some patients due to the poor state of the buildings. Instead the billion-dollar rebuild plan that it’s been working on for five years, has been turned down.

New Zealand spends more than $10 million a day on the military. It is time that we stop accepting the parliamentary consensus on military expansion and start organising a non-violent transformation.

 

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Minister must explain white supremacist in the NZDF

The public needs answers from Ron Mark, Minister of Defence, about another member of the NZDF named in a Newsroom article today with explicit links to a domestic white supremacist terrorist organisation.

What is the Minister going to do about ongoing white supremacist organising within the military? This is the third NZDF soldier linked to a neo-nazi group.

Today, James Fairburn, a former Army communications operator and a current member of the Army Reserves was publicly outed as a white supremacist. He has attended events hosted by a domestic white supremacist group, and he has engaged in online hate forums. The group he has been associated with, Action Zealandia, has several members already linked with other criminal offenses.

The NZDF appears to have a serious problem with recruiting active neo-nazis into their forces. Minister of Defence Ron Mark has so far been unwilling to deal with this problem and the NZDF has brushed it off. It is disturbing that they haven’t reviewed any processes or policies since before the Christchurch terrorist attack.

We also believe that the New Zealand Police are not doing any active investigation of these people.

The Defence Minister, Minister of Police, and the Minister of the NZSIS, and the agencies they manage, appear incapable of responding to this obvious threat to public safety.

The people of Aotearoa have a right to feel safe from neo-nazi violence and need answers now.

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Solidarity with Hawai‘i against RIMPAC 2020

From across Te Moana-Nui-A-Kiwa, the great Pacific Ocean, we send greetings and solidarity to our Hawaiian brothers, sisters and friends resisting RIMPAC, the Rim of the Pacific military exercise.

We stand resolutely and implacably opposed to the arrogant imperial violence that is RIMPAC. This military exercise is training for mass murder and ecocide. No amount of propaganda or spin can disguise the true nature of these preparations for war and colonisation.

RIMPAC enforces the illegal US colonial occupation of Hawai‘i. The great islands of Hawai‘i were never ceded to the United States. They were stolen by a US coup d’etat and fraudulently occupied by US marines in 1896. Hawaiians have never been asked nor consulted about their lands and seas being used as a US military base. The Hawaiian people are the sole legitimate source of authority across the Hawaiian archipelago. We support their aspirations for a free and independent nation.

RIMPAC is a dangerous provocation to other countries. It is intended to be a show of force and a demonstration of US power in the region. The Pacific is a new imperialist battleground between the US and China. This military exercise has excluded and encircled China. It does not build international trust or cooperation, but instead builds fear, creates opportunities for misunderstandings and sows division. We support a nuclear-free, weapons-free and independent Pacific.

The US does not, and never has, acted in the service of freedom or democracy. It acts in the interest of US business in pursuit of new resources and new markets. When those are not freely given, they are taken by force. The US military is the enforcer of the exploitative, global capitalist economic order. This violence is the history of the US military in the Pacific.

RIMPAC is harmful to our collective existence: the 26 attending militaries burn millions of litres of fossil fuels; they use missiles and torpedoes in sinking exercises polluting the Pacific, they deploy underwater sonar blasts damaging marine mammal health and killing marine life, they conduct live ordnance training, and they dump toxic wastes at sea.

From Aotearoa New Zealand to Hawai‘i, we stand with you to build a different world in the shell of the old. We will work with you to build peace with justice and self-determination. We will be tireless in our efforts to end militarism and imperialism in every corner of the earth. We act in solidarity with you to end RIMPAC this year and every year.

Kia kaha. Kia maia. Kia manawanui. Be strong. Be brave. Be resolute. #CancelRIMPAC2020

 

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