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Letter to Helen Clark
2 September 2002
10 December 2002
Summary of the letter sent to Rt. Hon. Helen Clark (Prime Minister) and Hon. Phil Goff, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Iraqi community in Wellington is very concerned about a possible war on their mother country and wish to address this important issue and whether New Zealand should take part in that war.
What happened after the previous war? Children, families and we have suffered a lot during and after the second Gulf war and the economic embargo afterwards. This caused hundred of thousands of casualties including children and women who died from bombs, hunger and cancer as a result of using weapons contaminated with nuclear waste. The suffering is still on going. The Iraqi people as well as other people in the Middle East have suffered for decades from wars and violation of human rights. In some cases some big powers were involved. This region in general and Iraq in particular have contributed to the development of civilisation throughout history. They deserve to be helped to contribute even more rather than be humiliated.
What are the consequences of a new war? Military analysts believe that a new war in Iraq may result in between 1-4 million civilian casualties most of them children and women. The world will witness a flood of refugees, which will result in a humanitarian tragedy. The war may well result in a wide environmental damage through the use of banned weapons and setting fire to the oil fields. The war could affect Iraq sovereignty and alienate the country and may lead to a civil war. The Iraqi people need the help of wise men and women now more than any time for a peaceful life.
What is the alternative to war? If going to war is to disarm the country from weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and to eliminate the suffering of the Iraqi people, there are other means to achieve this including the existing UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution for human rights in Iraq, which can restore democracy. We believe that the coming war will not enforce human rights, but instead will enforce foreign interests. Other UNSC resolutions should be equally implemented to disarm the entire region from WMD and make it a safer place to live in, which can lead to reducing the number of refugees.
Should New Zealand take part in the war? We believe that there is no interest for NZ in that war. NZ should not provide any military support in a possible war and in fact it should be active in preventing any war in Iraq. We believe that New Zealand is an important commercial partner with Iraq, and providing armed forces could lead to losing commercial contracts in the region.
How can New Zealand prevent the war? New Zealand activity as well as other countries should be within the UN. NZ policy makers need to wait until the weapon inspectors complete their job and submit their report then independently study the report. We believe that no country, no matter how powerful is should decide to declare war alone. NZ should lobby in this direction and in helping to enforce a democratic change in Iraq through the UN.
How can New Zealand help if the war erupted? If the war erupted we suggest that NZ contribution should be in the humanitarian efforts such as providing food, water, medicine, tents and blankets. We also ask the NZ government to work closely with the red cross to locate any refugees that have relatives living in NZ and initiate contact with them and helping their evacuation to a safer place.
What are our concerns inside New Zealand? We would like to remind that if such a war started our children and we might feel unsafe and suffer from some sort of discrimination or abuse. We trust that the NZ government, the Human Right Commission and other organisations, as well as ordinary people will do their best as they did in the past in preventing such unfair actions against our community.
We hope that the New Zealand government and the people of New Zealand appreciate this request and understand that the problem is complicated and needs to be dealt with wisely.
Best regards, Al-Rafedain Cultural and Social Society of Wellington
cc The Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Phil Goff, The Human Right Commissioner, The New Zealand Red Cross, The NZ Federation of Ethnic Councils