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PMA newsletter - December - January 1998
Kia ora, another busy six weeks have gone by since we put the last Newsletter out, the increasing number of visitors to the office in search of information on peace issues, as well as to share their peace news, has been an enjoyable surprise during the usually quieter new year period.
Among the overseas visitors was Sally Hodges, of Project Ploughshares (Calgary, Canada) - we had a most useful discussion with her as they are also working on something similar to the alternative 'Why a Defence Force ' booklet which we have been involved in producing here for secondary schools. The booklet is expected to be completed in mid-March, so more details about that in the next Newsletter.
The third stimulating national Activism in Aotearoa camp was held in Wainuiomata last weekend - lots of praise to those who worked so hard to ensure this went smoothly, especially to Francesca and Kyle, organisers extraordinnaire.
We have another new volunteer to welcome to PMA, Briony, and would also like to thank Medini, Mike, Helena, Christine and Michelle for their ongoing work in the office. As well, we have another part-time paid worker (for six months) starting in February, and she will introduce herself to you in the next PMA Newsletter .
Kia kaha til then.
Getting the message out !
Golden Bay Peace Group have been awarded the 'most interesting interview of 1997' by Fresh FM (the Nelson regional Access Radio station) for Virginia Stocker's interview with Sam Day, the US activist campaigning for the release of Mordechai Vanunu, recorded during his national speaking tour here last year.
The peace programme goes out on Fresh FM on the second Sunday of each month at 12 noon, Fresh FM's frequency is 99.4FM - so tune in if you can !
Things to do, news and views ...
The agreement allows for a transition from the truce monitoring group to a local police force as the ceasefire comes into effect, although it is not as yet clear if this will be organised in time. Bougainville's independence from Papua New Guinea will be discussed in April at meetings on the island as the next stage of the peace process.
During the latest round of meetings, the PNG prime-minister announced an amnesty for Bougainville 'rebels' living in exile, confirmed that the bounty on several leaders' heads had been removed; and apologised to the people of Bougainville and PNG for the pain and suffering experienced during the nine year war.
So, the peace process is looking good - if the economic and structural inequalities which lead to the war are addressed in a genuine way, then at last the people of Bougainville will enjoy a permanent and just peace.
While Don McKinnon appears to have played a positive role in the process to date, it would perhaps be useful for him to reflect on the past involvement of the NZ defence forces in training PNG soldiers, and possibly even reach a decision to withdraw from training the armed forces of other invading governments in the future - an immediate end to the training of Indonesian troops seems a good place to start.
Speaking of which, wouldn't it be great if he could also employ his peace enabling talents for the people of East Timor (you could assist in bringing this to his attention by collecting signatures for the enclosed petition !) and West Papua . In addition to the traumas of invasion and war, thousands of people in both areas are now facing starvation from the effects of drought.
Why a defence force ?We have received a copy of the Defence Ministry's kit for secondary schools which we are happy to share ! If you or your group would like to borrow it to examine and discuss the messages therein, please let us know and we will send it out to you. It would be helpful if you could assist with post costs, rates are : Wellington, collect or $2-50 / $4-00; North Island $3-50 / $4-60; South Island $5-50 / $8-80 (post / fast post).
Defence forces 'savings'Despite having been allocated vastly increased sums of money for new bits and pieces over the next couple of years, the defence forces have not abandoned their 'poor us' approach.
A brief roundup of some of the newspaper headlines over the past couple of months tells us : 'More problems for Air Force Jets' (Dominion , 05-12-97), 'Army Equipment not 'up to the job' ' (23-12-97) - at the same time, you'll be pleased to know that the defence force has 'SAVED' $79 million a year since 1990 by privatising services ! (09-01-98).
Coopers and Lybrand have been contracted by the defence forces to carry out a review of their property holdings - and we understand the preliminary report has suggested each of the three services should have only one base each. It's not clear if this is intended to save money or what, as the proposal to base the navy somewhere other than Devonport could cost up to $200 million (20-01-98).
Meanwhile that great Navy buy, the Charles Upham, (tied up since it was purchased because it needs $34 million worth of modifications before it can be used) may be chartered out for two years from March. Goodness - not only 'saving' money but earning it too ?
Navy exercise cancelled ?The NZ navy is uncertain of its participation in Exercise Tasmanex (the bi-annual event with Australia in the Tasman Sea) because ... can you guess why ... they don't have enough frigates ! For those of you interested in the whereabouts of the naval forces, Wellington will be used for training this year; Canterbury will be in refit until June and Waikato is tied up awaiting decommissioning in the next two months.
Presumably Te Kaha is undergoing trials to make sure everything works ... a curious tale has emerged re that frigate following the investigation into its near collision with a merchant ship off Cape Reinga as it sailed here from Melbourne last July. Apparently the merchant ship could not detect Te Kaha on its radar - as a documented maritime hazard, perhaps Te Kaha should not be allowed to go to sea - ever !
One way of making sure you at least have some idea of what they are up to and who they are working with is this regular feature of the Newsletter which provides details of military exercises. Scheduled for the next few months :
G til 15 Feb - Tasman Reserve, NZ / Australian territorial force units annual exchange, Australia; G 1 March to 6 April - Valkyrie, NZ / Australian SAS joint exercise, NZ; G 16 May - 1 June - Tasman Link, NZ / Australian soldiers joint offensive (very !) support and airspace co-ordination exercise, Australia.
Weapons destroyedThis bit of good news just missed our November Newsletter - 6,400 small arms and their spare parts, which had been in storage for the past decade at Trentham, were crushed for smelting at a metal recycling depot in Otahuhu on 26 November.
Cost of violent deathsNot such good news in a report released on 16 January from the Auckland University Injury Prevention Research Centre which said that in addition to the emotional trauma and grief caused by murder and manslaughter, the direct and indirect financial cost of violent deaths in 1992 was more than $82.9 million - an average of $1.01 million each. This included the cost of police enquiries, coroners, legal costs and keeping the perpetrators in prison; and for the victims, costs involved in funerals, loss of earnings, and counselling.
Perhaps this will prompt the government to finally listen to those who have been working for years to have conflict resolution taught at all levels in our schools.
The Wellington group welcome support in the form of :
* help with cooking and preparing food
* donations of food
* koha to help with purchase of cooking equipment, transport and publicity.
Contact Wellington Food not Bombs, PO Box 6387, Wellington, tel (04) 385 6728 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Meanwhile, another Food not Bombs group is being taken to court in the US, this time by the City of Worcester, for serving free food without a permit - prosecutions following the establishment of Food not Bomb groups have been common in the US.
Of late there has been more mainstream media coverage on spies and their activities than usual :
There was the announcement of the ongoing investigation by Justice Grieg (inspector-general of intelligence and security) to ensure that the GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau) is operating within its limits; then Simon Upton's response when Tim Barnett expressed further concerns re the second dome being built at Waihopai ($3.6 million for that) .... Upton stated that those at the Waihopai base were "not allowed by law to collect conversations between New Zealanders and any communications unintentionally picked up were disposed of"' (Dominion , 10-01-98).
Bob Leonard's response that Upton's statement was misleading, as most international phone calls to and from NZ would be considered 'foreign communications' and therefore fair game for the spies, was also (rather surprisingly!) reported by the Dominion (12-01-98). Both articles mentioned Jenny Shipley's announcement that $300,000 extra had been spent on security at Waihopai since last year's protests there. Shame they didn't know this January's camp was cancelled ...
In addition, apparently the GCSB celebrated its 20th anniversary last year with a morning tea for staff (19-01-98); and news too that the first civilian spy satellite, Earlybird 1, will enable anyone with a credit card to spy on their neighbours - whoops, sorry, that should read ... anyone - other than the governments of Cuba, N. Korea, Libya, Iraq and Iran.
So that's the mainstream media - even more interesting articles have been appearing
in the alternative media :
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