In response to an announcement by NZ Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee on February 10 that the NZ Defence Force will begin “special contingency training” for possible deployment to Iraq, more than 30 representatives of peace, justice and faith organisations in that country have signed an Open Letter on Military Deployment to Iraq to all Government Ministers and Members of the New Zealand Parliament. The letter expresses strong opposition to New Zealand becoming in any way involved militarily in the current conflict in Iraq and Syria.
The Open Letter correctly emphasises that the “situation in Iraq and Syria is the direct result of the tragic history of western military intervention in the region, in particular the 2003 US-led military invasion of Iraq and subsequent brutal eight-year long occupation.”
It also states that the “further involvement of western armed forces in the Middle East, whether in a training or combat capacity, will do nothing but bring more violence, killing and hardship to the peoples there. Military trainers will add nothing of value to peace processes in the region.”
Rather than deploying military force, the Open Letter calls on the New Zealand government to make a positive contribution to peace in Iraq and Syria by:
- “Providing non-military humanitarian aid to intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations working in the region, and in particular we call for the resources currently earmarked for military deployment to be transferred instead to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian assistance agencies; and
- Increasing support for diplomatic processes to bring about comprehensive and long term solutions to the crises in Iraq and Syria.”
Read the full text of the Open Letter and view its signatories here.
The NZ Open Letter is indicative of a growing concern within NZ and Australia about the current US-led military intervention in Iraq. MPG has expressed sentiments similar to those in the Open Letter. For example, MPG is a signatory to a statement issued by the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN).