On the 70th Anniversary of ANZUS, NZDF in massive war exercises

Peace Action Wellington opposes the NZDF’s involvement in Exercise Talisman Sabre, a joint US-Australian military training, happening in Queensland this week.

“The Labour government has claimed to have an independent foreign policy, but this deployment of NZ troops, in the week marking the 70th anniversary of ANZUS, demonstrates that NZ has not yet truly attained independence from US imperial forces in the Pacific,” said Valerie Morse, member of Peace Action Wellington.

“The Defence Force’s primary interest in these exercises is in being able to blend in seamlessly with the US and Australian militaries. War exercises like these, along with the unnecessary new weapons requisitions are merely to have the same training and gear as the US and Australia, not for New Zealand’s security.”

“New Zealand wants to appease our traditional allies, the US and Australia, while simultaneously not wanting to bring any attention to its participation and anger the Chinese. It is an attempt by the government to have their cake and eat it, too.”

“Exercise Talisman Sabre represents a real and present danger to peace and stability in the Pacific. This massive troop build up is a show of military aggression directed squarely at China, and it is deeply provocative.”

“The US administration may have changed, but the operations of the US military have not. They serve to protect US corporate power. The US pulled its support of New Zealand as part of the ANZUS Treaty to punish NZ for going nuclear-free, but the NZDF is back in there undermining our independence.”

“As the world’s climate crisis is accelerating, we have to urgently move away from the use of military might to uphold a fundamentally unequal and racist system. We need to put our resources towards creating a just, peaceful and resilient planet for all its inhabitants. War exercises like Talisman Sabre attempt to cement the rule of the powerful to continue their destruction and exploitation. They have absolutely nothing to do with improving the lives of people or our natural environment,” concluded Morse.

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Crafting resistance: art and activism

WHEN: Saturday, 7 August 1-5pm
WHERE: Newtown Community Centre, Level 2, 2a Green Street, above the old ANZ bank
Facebook event

  We invite you to join us for a day of kōrero and action where we will learn from speakers who have been fierce, front-line resistors of oppressive forces in the Pacific. Then, in honour of their continued resistance, we will engage in radical art projects. Come along and workshop a range of take-home resources that will creatively educate, uplift, move, empower and inspire action towards justice.
  Following Hiroshima Day on August 6th, we will take the opportunity to affirm and strengthen our continuing commitment to ethical remembering and active opposition of structures which colonise, extract, displace, and destroy for profit. While as a nation we have been firm in our rejection of nuclear arms in our waters, we have been passive for too long as the Pacific became a playground for war machinery and nuclear testing.

Joining us will be Dr Emalani Case from Victoria University and the crew from Indigenous Pacific Uprising: Tāwhana Chadwick, Sina Brown-Davis and Anevili TS.

The time for resistance, solidarity, and transformation is now. Another way is possible through collective action and imagination.

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Take two actions for peace and climate justice this week

This week, we encourage you to sign two petitions and help build a culture of peace and a powerful movement for climate justice.

  • A fair go for a family in danger
    Seven months ago we learned about a family who attempted to seek asylum in Aotearoa New Zealand by boat. This petition calls on the New Zealand government to offer resettlement to this family: three adults and three children. They left Sri Lanka and boarded a ship in Indonesia in 2015, bound for New Zealand. Their ship, the Andika, was seaworthy and would have made it here, but they were intercepted in a ‘turnback’ operation that forced them off their ship and seriously endangered their lives. Six years later, they remain in an Indonesian detention centre, hoping that our government might give them their fair chance to claim asylum— claims they are legally entitled to make.
  • Read more & sign the petition
  • End fossil fuel permits
    We are in a climate emergency – the heat waves, deaths and wildfires in Canada are just a taste of what we will see without drastic immediate action. We need to transition off fossil fuels urgently. The current accepted notion of being carbon neutral by 2050 is far too late. This petition calls on the Government to ban any new oil and gas prospecting, exploration and mining permits including extensions of existing permits in Taranaki and to ban any new coal mines or expansion of existing coal mines in Aotearoa by 2022.

Petitions are one way you can take action. Getting involved in regular organising is another. If you are interested in working as part of Peace Action Wellington, contact us on peacewellington@riseup.net or via our Facebook or Twitter pages.

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ACTION ALERT: Submit on the new terrorism law

The government has recently introduced a new counter-terrorism bill in response to the Christchurch massacre. Addressing white supremacist terrorism is a good thing, however this new law will not make us safer and could target political activists

We encourage people to submit opposing this legislation. Submissions are due on 25 June and can be made here.

This material can be used in your submission.

  • Lack of oversight 

The Bill includes no provision for an independent monitor to review how counter-terrorism laws are operated in New Zealand and to ensure they are not abused. John Ip, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Auckland, argues the Bill should include the establishment of an equivalent of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation in the United Kingdom, or the Independent National Security Monitor in Australia. This would mean an expert is appointed to constantly review the operation of New Zealand’s terrorism legislation. The monitor’s reports would provide a ready source of reliable information for MPs, civil society groups and the public to use when calling out abuses of counter-terrorist legislation.  

Submitters should urge that IF this legislation is passed, that an independent monitor should also be created.  

  • The definition of a “terrorist act” (Clause 6 – New terrorist act defined)

    The government is actually expanding the definition of a terrorist act here. Anjum Rahman from the Islamic Women’s Council sums up the problem in her recent article for The Spinoff:

“The proposed legislation broadens the definition of terrorism. Instead of defining it as the inducement of “terror in a civilian population” it is now simply “fear in a population”, a less stringent definition which lowers the mens rea, the intention of committing a crime. Where before the definition of a terrorist act was one done “to unduly compel” a government or organisation to carry out (or abstain from) an action, now it just “to coerce”. This broadens the definition of terrorism, giving wider power to the state. It’s difficult to see the justification for doing so. These new powers would not have helped to prevent the Christchurch mosque attacks. The issue wasn’t that the laws weren’t broad enough to prosecute the terrorist prior to the atrocities he committed.” 

  • Create a new offence to criminalise planning or preparation for a terrorist act

    It is already illegal to plan and prepare to do illegal and/or violent things: murder, robbery, arson etc. are already crimes for which you can be charged with ‘conspiracy to commit’.

    The expansion of the law could make targeting political activists who are planning an action more likely. The potential for activists being targeted has always existed under the Terrorism Suppression Act, and this widening of the definition may make that easier.
  • Creates a new offence to criminalise terrorist weapons and combat training

    Communities organising against racist violence and attacks may organise self-defence training activities. Enforcement agencies steeped in institutional bias may interpret this type of community organising as terrorist preparation. For example, many gyms offer ‘combat style’ training activities. 

    Use of firearms and restricted weapons is already tightly regulated in New Zealand with the use of “reverse onus” in the Arms Act. That means that a person who is found to have guns or restricted weapons (like a crossbow or molotov cocktail) has to prove that they have “lawful, proper and sufficient purpose” in having the firearm – this is very different from most NZ law where a person is presumed innocent unless proven otherwise. So a person can have lawful possession (they have a gun license) but if using the gun to rob a store then the possession is not proper or sufficient, and therefore illegal. It is not necessary to criminalise weapons training for terrorist purposes because it is already illegal to carry out a terrorist act. Therefore, possession of weapons in training for that purpose would be illegal under the Arms Act.
  • Create a new offence for international travel to carry out terrorist activities AND expand the criminal offence of financing terrorism to include broader forms of material support

    Both of these justifications by the government overlook the racist and biased nature such decision-making of who “terrorist entities” are. As Anjum Rahman again writes: 

“United Nations Security Council’s designated sanctions list of terrorist entities..does not include a single white supremacist, white nationalist, alt-right or neo-Nazi organisation. Even though there have been so many mass shootings by these groups, the definitions of terrorism used by the UN means that these organisations can often continue to elude authorities. This is symptomatic of an international bias that also impacts us here in Aotearoa.”

Similarly, the New Zealand government’s list of designated terrorist entities did not include any white supermacist or far right entities, until the Christchurch shooter was designated in September 2020.  Those travelling to Syria or Iraq who have joined ISIS are clearly targetted by the new Bill, but people travelling to the US or Australia that join neo-Nazi organisations are not.

This new clause is also a problem because national liberation groups, fighting repressive regimes, are being designated as terrorist entities by Western governments, including New Zealand. New Zealand designates the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA).  This could impact people in New Zealand wishing to provide financial or other support to Kurdish organisations in Turkey or left-leaning activist groups in the Philippines struggling for human rights — especially if the New Zealand authorities accepted their Turkish and Philippine counterparts’ word that a large range of progressive Kurdish and Philippine activist groups, political parties and trade unions are PKK or CPP/NPA front groups. 

Through extending the definition of a terrorist act, the Bill means even more groups resisting repressive regimes could be designated as terrorist entities.  This is concerning because New Zealand’s terrorist designations of liberation groups already encourage further state repression by abusive regimes.  Cameron Walker, a legal academic at the University of Auckland, notes New Zealand’s terrorist designation of the CPP/NPA is regularly cited in press releases by the notoriously abusive Duterte Administration, justifying state violence, including extra judicial killings, against activists.  

  • Expand control orders to include people who have finished a prison sentence for a terrorism-related offence

    This clause is unnecessary. The Parole Act already allows for a long list of special conditions to be imposed on people leaving prison:
  • Conditions relating to place of residence (including that they must reside at a particular place)
    • Conditions to not associate with any person 
    • Conditions prohibiting the person from entering or remaining in specified places or areas, at specified times, or at all times
    • Electronic monitoring

More reading on the proposed new terrorism law:

Make your opposition known. Make your voice heard. Make your submission today.

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Peace Action Calls for Radical Change on ANZAC Day 2021

Peace Action Wellington is hosting an Anzac-weekend peace event called The Climate of War: white supremacy, climate justice and militarism that challenges the meaning and purpose of Anzac Day. The free, public event will be held on Saturday, 24 April from 1-5pm at the Wellington Central Baptist Church at 46 Boulcott Street.

“This event is about making the links between the current climate crisis, war and structural racism,” said Peace Action Wellington member Valerie Morse.

“We are told that Anzac Day is about remembrance, and on the face of it we remember that people died and suffered. But New Zealand has not yet engaged in real, ethical remembering of the past. In terms of World War 1, that would require the government to acknowledge that it was a racist war to strengthen imperialist control over much of the world’s oil resources, where millions of people died pointlessly, and which set the stage for the slaughter of 50+ million people in World War Two.”

“Ethical remembering requires that we learn from our history to create a different future. World War One is not detached from contemporary world affairs. It was a profoundly important time that secured much of the oil of the Middle East, including in Iraq and Iran, into the hands of the British Empire with the help of New Zealand troops.”

An impressive line-up of speakers will explore the effects of this history and connections to the climate crisis from diverse lenses – from the impacts for Tangata Whenua and the peoples of Moana-nui-a-Kiwa/the Pacific, to the stories of refugees and migrants.

On Saturday, we have a line up of speakers that includes:
Te Ao Pritchard (Pacific Panthers) and Nate Rew (Te Ara Whatu): Tangata Whenua and Indigenous perspectives on Climate Justice and War
Pacific Climate Warriors workshop: Retelling Pasifika stories and claiming Pasifika agency
Nadia Abu-Shanab (Palestinian, teacher and unionist) and Byron Clark (researcher): The uses of history and ethical remembering for a transformative future
Gayaal Iddamalgoda (Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaigner, Unionist) and Adriana Che Ismail (Secretary at VicMuslims Club and Campaigns Manager for the Wellington Community Justice Project’s Asylum Seeker Equality Project) – Disrupting the narrative: open borders, migrant stories of war, and challenging islamophobia

“We invite the public to engage in this critical space for learning and unpacking the past in order that we can build a radically different and just future.”

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