- Democratic Burmese Delegation Visits New Zealand : A high level delegation of exiled Burmese democratic leaders has called upon New Zealand to take further action against the military regime. The debate in the media over sanctions was confusing. Foreign Minister Phil Goff said that sanctions would ordinary people only because most of our exports to that country were milk powder.
- Anzac Day And Gallipoli : Chief of Defence Staff Bruce Ferguson raised some eyebrows with a comment in his speech given at Gallipoli that:
- A Wellingtonian In Aceh . Cameron Burnell, an aid worker and photographer based in Wellington, is currently travelling through Aceh, Indonesia evaluating and overseeing the tsunami relief effort of Caritas. Cameron will be telling the story and posting photos of his travels at: Aceh Photos. Well worth a look.
However, when asked by Keith Locke at a public meeting in Auckland, the delegation leader, U Maung Maung, made it clear that their focus was banning exports from Burma. He has also made the point that ordinary people would not be affected as they could not afford dairy products in a country where the defence budget was more than 10 times larger than the health budget. Keith asked why New Zealand couldn't go at least as far as the United States government does and impose an import and investment ban on Burma. Keith will be following this up with Parliamentary questions.
U Maung Maung is general secretary of the National Council of the Union of Burma and the Federation of Trade Unions of Burma. Exiled MPs U Hla Oa and U Daniel Aung were also in the delegation, and prompted the formation, on April 23, of a New Zealand Parliamentarians for a Democratic Burma group. Keith is a member of it.
The Council of Trade Unions also met the Burmese leaders and passed a strong motion for sanctions against Burma. (See CTU - Free Burma.
"Our military professionals today see in this campaign [Gallipoli] joint warfare at its worst, at least from the British side: lack of co-ordination, lack of focus, blunders and the squandering of life.
"Perhaps the Gallipoli campaign was a high-water mark of our nation's imperial subservience."
Keith made a similar point on TVNZ's Saturday morning Eye To Eye debate on ANZAC day and defence issues last week and has supported Air Marshall Ferguson against his critics.
- Support The (Zimbabwe Cricket) Tour Boycott - sign on line at Say No to the Zimbabwe Tour!!.
See below for Rod Donald's questions in Parliament on the tour.
- Zimbabwe Black Caps Cricket Tour - Rod Donald questions the PM on 12 April.
- Coalition Warns Of Global Mass Surveillance . Civil liberties groups called on countries around the globe Wednesday to rein in "intrusive and discriminatory measures" - from national ID cards to no-fly lists - implemented in the name of fighting terrorism. The International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance decried the growing web of security tools employed by governments in the post-Sept. 11 era to profile, monitor and track individuals.
- Halt all collection, storage and use of data and information-sharing
practices contrary to existing privacy and human rights laws and
- Ensure citizens can correct personal data held by governments and
challenge misuse, including placement on a security watch list.
- Stop wholesale collection of information on individuals, such as
purchase of databanks from private companies.
- Halt introduction of a universal biometric passport and the creation
of "sharing standards" for passenger information until the issues have
been openly debated.
- The UN Must Act On Darfur Now . Ann-Louise Colgan, Director for Policy Analysis & Communications at Africa Action, the oldest Africa advocacy organization in the U.S. Pleads for urgent intervention to prevent further deaths and atrocities in the 'forgotten' conflict zone of Darfur.
Rod Donald (Co-Leader-Green) to the Prime Minister: When she said yesterday "personally I wouldn't be seen dead there", was she hoping that individual New Zealand cricket players would follow her lead and withdraw from the proposed Black Caps tour of Zimbabwe; if not, why not?
Hon Dr Michael Cullen (Deputy Prime Minister), on behalf of the Prime Minister: The Prime Minister was expressing her personal view. The decision as to whether the New Zealand cricket team tours Zimbabwe is one for the players and New Zealand Cricket to make.
Rod Donald: Is the Prime Minister concerned that a tour by an official New Zealand cricket team to Zimbabwe could be seen as giving tacit approval to Robert Mugabe's pariah State and therefore could undermine the Government's condemnation of the rigged election recently held in Zimbabwe; if not, why not?
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: No, because both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade have made clear on many occasions New Zealand's abhorrence of the Mugabe regime.
Rod Donald: Will the Government consider advising New Zealand Cricket that if it withdraws from the Zimbabwe tour on moral or political grounds, the Government would underwrite any fine imposed by the International Cricket Council; if not, why not?
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: No. That would create an unfortunate precedent for the future in many similar kinds of cases, I would have thought.
Rod Donald: Does the Prime Minister consider that there is value in New Zealand pursuing sporting boycotts against Zimbabwe, given their effectiveness in helping to overturn South Africa's apartheid regime in the 1980s; if not, why not?
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Yes. Certainly, sporting boycotts have worked in the past, but no New Zealand Government has ever attempted to prevent a New Zealand team going overseas, as opposed to preventing a team coming to New Zealand.
Rod Donald: Will the Prime Minister encourage the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Phil Goff, to follow the example of the British Government and meet with New Zealand's representative on the International Cricket Council with a view to requesting an international sporting boycott of Zimbabwe; if not, why not?
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: That is a matter for Mr Goff. I think it is fair to say that the current policy of the International Cricket Council makes these decisions very difficult for sporting teams, and the policy could well be revisited, but that, again, is a matter for cricketers and cricketing organisations throughout the world.
Driven largely by the United States, countries are aggressively using information gathered and shared through electronic systems to crack down on dissent, close borders to refugees and activists, and seize and detain people without reasonable grounds, the ad-hoc coalition says.
"The object of the infrastructure is not ordinary police work, but mass surveillance of entire populations," says a declaration issued by campaign members…
…The campaign is spearheaded by groups including the Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, the American Civil Liberties Union and Statewatch, based in Europe.
Organizers circulated a list Wednesday of 83 organizations from around
the world that have endorsed the campaign's declaration.
It calls on governments to:
For more information - see the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance website.
''Intervene to Save Darfur
For the past two years, the destruction of Darfur has played out before the eyes of the world, and the member countries of the United Nations have remained largely paralyzed. Recent UN votes on sanctions and on a referral to the International Criminal Court are important steps forward on Darfur, but they are not enough. Unless there is a rapid and robust international intervention in Darfur, up to a million people could be dead by the end of this year. As the genocide continues, the need for immediate humanitarian intervention can no longer be disputed.
Up to 400,000 people have died in Darfur, and yet the U.S. and international response remains absolutely insufficient. Discussions on the crisis at the UN stalled for months, as the government of Sudan continued to wage its genocidal campaign with impunity. Recent reports confirm that the security situation on the ground is deteriorating, and that the humanitarian crisis is reaching desperate proportions.
Faced with this worst crime against humanity, the most powerful countries in the world have applied small humanitarian band-aids, but have been unwilling to mount a robust response to end the violence and provide protection to millions of vulnerable Darfurians. The international community has left the people of Darfur in what UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recently described as "little short of hell on earth."
The African Union (AU) force on the ground in Darfur is doing what it can in the face of growing insecurity, but it remains ill-equipped to respond to a crisis of this magnitude. Its 2,200 troops are too few to cover an area the size of France, and its mandate does not extend to an ability to provide life-saving protection to civilians. The AU effort also faces grave financial and logistical challenges. The African Union has provided important leadership on the crisis in Darfur, but it cannot and should not have to shoulder this enormous burden alone.
The growing humanitarian crisis in Darfur must also be clearly understood as part of the government-sponsored genocide. Up to 3 million Darfurians are currently described as "conflict-afflicted," having been driven from their homes as a result of the scorched-earth policies of the Khartoum government and its proxy militias. The growing humanitarian need far outstrips the capacity of humanitarian agencies operating on the ground, and there are indicators of imminent famine. The government continues to drive civilians from their homes and into situations of desperate need, and then obstructs the humanitarian response with devastating human consequences.
In the face of this ongoing genocide, the international community has been consistently unwilling to accept its responsibility to take urgent action, and has instead settled on what lowest-common-denominator response UN members can agree on. The UN Security Council continues to hesitate largely because of economic and political interests of its permanent members, especially China and Russia, and no country has been willing to expend the diplomatic capital required to overcome their objections and impel urgent action.
The U.S., for its part, has invested nowhere near the efforts that its acknowledgment of genocide last September should dictate. Even as thousands continue to die in Darfur, a White House official recently claimed that the President "has more pressing priorities." But increasing numbers of people across the country are raising their voices to ask: what can be more pressing than genocide?
Genocide is an international crime and it requires an international response. The U.S. and other countries must no longer be allowed to hide behind the slogan of "African solutions for African problems," abdicating their own responsibility in full knowledge that the AU cannot respond to this crisis alone. The situation in Darfur requires a strong international presence on the ground to reinforce and expand upon the efforts of the African Union. This is what the U.S. should be calling for at the UN.
To stop the genocide, the UN must work with the AU to strengthen its mandate under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter to enable the AU mission to enforce the cease-fire in Darfur and protect civilians. A robust international force must also be quickly assembled to complement and bolster the AU. Such an intervention would: (1) stop the killing and provide security for millions of internally displaced people (IDPs); (2) facilitate the urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance; (3) enforce the cease-fire and provide a stable environment for meaningful peace talks to proceed; and (4) facilitate the return of IDPs to their land and the reconstruction of their homes by providing a secure environment.
Kofi Annan recently noted that the situation in Darfur is "unacceptable," but indeed it has been considered "acceptable" by the international community for far too long. Nothing short of international intervention will stop the genocide in Darfur and this must be the immediate priority. Many thousands of lives can still be saved if the international community acts quickly and with determination.''
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