As in previous years, Peace Action Wellington again attended the citizens wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph. This year a wreath was laid for those killed allegedly by the NZ SAS in Operation Burnham in Afghanistan and to commemorate all civilian lives lost during war.
Our presence at the ceremony was not a protest against the event itself. Rather, we were participating in the ceremony, and encouraging others to remember that it’s not just soldiers who die in conflict.
We feel it was entirely respectful of the proceedings, and the responses we received from those at the ceremony were largely – though not exclusively – positive. We’d like to thank the organisers of the event for allowing us to participate.
All loss of life in war is abhorrent. Selective commemoration can alter our view of history, and whose lives we deem to be important. We note that there is currently no public holiday to commemorate those who were killed during the New Zealand Land Wars.
Anzac day was originally a day of remembrance by and for veterans of the First World War, to remember their comrades who were killed and the senselessness of war. Given the anti-war stance implicit in its roots, it seems entirely appropriate to commemorate war dead more broadly and to say ‘never again’ – especially given that NZ is still involved in foreign conflicts today including Afghanistan.
Peace Action Wellington call for an end to NZ’s involvement in foreign wars and for Bill English to immediately instate a full independent inquiry into the raid on two villages in Operation Burnham.