Open letter to Keith Locke MP

Hi Keith

I read this in the Herald, attributed to you:

“We are proud of the good peacekeeping and reconstruction work that our Provincial Reconstruction Team has done in Bamian Province, and we mourn the loss of one of its members.”

If those words are not misquoted, then I’m really angry at your misrepresentation.

What’s going on here?

You’ve read all the books and been constantly active in the anti imperialist movement for literally half a century. You must be much more acutely aware than most people that the so called Provincial Reconstruction Team that the New Zealand state sent to Afghanistan is not about peacekeeping, or reconstruction , or is, in any way, “ours”.

You must similarly know that unless someone belongs to or chooses to identify with the New Zealand ruling classes, or is a bought hack journalist, or has not had access to the most rudimentary understanding of class politics, that: “our Provincial Reconstruction Team” is not based in Afghanistan for peacekeeping, good or otherwise.

Death in war is an understandable trigger for human emotions. So lets get the whole picture here. How many Afghanistan people have been killed by New Zealand invaders of their country?  When do we mourn and how do we begin to try and make amends?

People die every day in the course of their calling. The NZ army officer killed by Afghanistan people trying to evict invaders from their land is the first invading New Zealand trooper to die there since 2003. How many industrial deaths have there been in New Zealand since that time? How many flags were lowered, how many media voices theatrically quavered and how many Prime ministers broke routine for those working class victims of the class war?

Let the ruling classes do their barbarous inhuman dirty work alone and unaided.

Our little time on this earth has more urgent and honorable calls on it; to revive the antimperialist antiwar movement in this country.

Don Franks

New WP pamphlet on Afghanistan

New Zealand’s involvement in the occupation of Afghanistan has been commonly perceived as a humanitarian role. John Edmundson demolishes that myth and looks at what the occupation is really about.

The Situation so far

On 10 August 2009, Prime Minister John Key announced that the SAS (Special Air Service) would return to Afghanistan. This announcement had been predicted for some time so came as no surprise. The troops are being deployed in three rotations over 18 months and the full deployment involves 70 soldiers over that time period. At the same time, over that 18 months the NZ Army’s Provincial Reconstruction Team – NZ’s major commitment to the war – are being gradually reduced and eventually withdrawn, their work to be replaced by civilian work on agriculture, health and education. But the SAS deployment may in fact last much longer. The war in Afghanistan is going badly for the US -led coalition and few military people or civilian analysts are prepared to go public with an estimate of how much longer it could go on. A time frame as short as 18 months seems unlikely and if the war continues for years, there will be further requests for extensions to the troop commitment. With the Obama administration massively expanding the war effort, not just through increased troop numbers in Afghanistan, but an increasing involvement in Pakistan also, the war could well drag on for years.  read more

It is 8 years since NZ troops joined the US led invasion of Afghanistan

The SPARK interviews long serving anti-imperialist activist and Workers Party secretary Daphna Whitmore

Spark: It’s been 8 years since New Zealand troops were sent to Afghanistan – why did the Labour-Alliance government send them in the first place?

It needs to be understood in the context of New Zealand’s involvement with US and British imperialism. New Zealand is a partner in this bloc, and Labour enthusiastically signed up to the so-called War on Terror. When it comes to involvement in military adventures Labour governments have been just as warmongering as National.

Daphna Whitmore

Daphna Whitmore (left)at May Day march 2009

The Alliance Party split over the issue of support for the invasion of Afghanistan, with the majority of its members rejecting the war. It highlighted the problem of being in government with an outright capitalist party like Labour.

Spark: New Zealand companies aren’t trying to make major sales in Afghanistan – why all the risk and expense over such a long period of time?

 In its last term the Labour government did scale back the involvement, recalling the SAS and sending instead “reconstruction” forces. This tended to obscure the reality – that these are military forces, participating in an occupation. It dressed it up to look like it was simply a humanitarian mission. [Read more…]

Stop the SAS return to Afghanistan

Picket outside of the Court of Appeal, corner of Molesworth and Aitken St WELLINGTON  8AM – 9.30 AM

The picket coincides with the Court of Appeal hearing for an anti-warwpbanner protester convicted of burning the NZ flag at anti-war protest in 2007. It also coincides with the government’s announcement of the return of the SAS to combat in Afghanistan. All welcome…and please pass it on…

Organised by Peace Action Wellington

New Zealand government’s RSE scheme: “Brutal racist oppression”

By Don Franks

In a press release on 4 June 2009 the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions deplored the Government’s removal of the minimum wage protection for workers on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

“There have been significant examples of unauthorised and unfair deductions from RSE workers’ pay even under the existing regulations,” said Wagstaff. “Relaxing the minimum wage rule will only result in more blatant exploitation of already vulnerable workers as unscrupulous employers shift costs onto them.”

“Allowing employers to make deductions which will reduce pay rates below the minimum of $12.50 per hour will significantly increase exploitation of RSE workers and undermine the credibility of the scheme”, said CTU Vice-President Richard Wagstaff.

Richard Wagstaff is dead right about the exploitation, but from a workers point of view, RSE has no credibility to be undermined.

The New Zealand Labour Department says:

“The RSE scheme facilitates the temporary entry of overseas workers, mainly from the Pacific, to plant, maintain, harvest and pack crops in the horticulture and viticulture industries to meet labour shortages in order to remain competitive with the rest of the world.” [Read more…]