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Govt should back Zimbabwe cricket boycott


Govt should back Zimbabwe cricket boycott

The Greens this morning stepped up their campaign to have the Black Caps' tour to Zimbabwe called off, writing to the Government asking it to give financial and political backing for a boycott.

"It's time for the Government to ensure Robert Mugabe isn't allowed to trade on our good name," Green Co-Leader Rod Donald said. "It would be a significant blow to his regime if cricket teams refused to tour his country. As the country next scheduled to tour Zimbabwe, New Zealand has a special responsibility to take a stand.

"Mugabe is a despicable dictator who also happens to be the patron of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union and a big cricket fan. Being able to receive international cricketing teams therefore not only brings him personal pleasure but also bestows on him respectability he does not deserve."

Mr Donald, a veteran of the 1981 Springbok Tour protest movement, has this morning written to Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff urging the Government to:

Ø Advise New Zealand Cricket (NZC) that the Zimbabwe tour would not be in New Zealand's foreign policy interests, and thus ask NZC to cancel the tour;

Ø Underwrite the tour cancellation - that is, promise to cover any fine NZC faces from the International Cricket Council for pulling out of the tour;

Ø Develop a protocol, in consultation with human rights organisations, for deciding which countries New Zealand should cut sporting ties with.

"The Government needs to put its money where it's mouth is," Mr Donald said. "Just last week, Mr Goff was right to tell Parliament how awful the Mugabe regime is and how badly rigged Zimbabwe's recent elections were. The Government paying any fines NZC incurred from cancelling the tour would show that its support for democracy and human rights is more than fine words."

Mr Donald said Government support for a boycott would make it much easier for New Zealand Cricket to do the right thing.

"New Zealanders were at the cutting edge of this debate in the 1980s when we protested against the Springbok Tour in an effort to put pressure on apartheid South Africa. It's time to dust off the same tactics and crank up the heat on Mugabe.

"However, the reason the Springbok Tour was so divisive was that the Muldoon Government refused to call off the tour. We now have to hope that the Clark Government has more courage in tackling this very important issue."

Mr Donald has also written to NZ Cricket Chief Executive Martin Snedden this morning, asking NZC to:

Ø Write to the Mr Goff asking for guidance about whether the tour should go ahead, as the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) did last year to its Foreign Secretary Jack Straw;

Ø Ask Amnesty International for its view on the merits of pulling out of the Zimbabwe tour. This is similar to actions taken by the ECB, which commissioned a report from Des Wilson, a human rights advisor, on whether the England tour of Zimbabwe should go ahead;

Ø Consult with other member countries of the International Cricket Council, including the ECB, with a view to introducing global sanctions against playing international cricket against Zimbabwe;

Ø Decide in principle to pull out of the Zimbabwe tour, and ask the Government to underwrite the move.

"I understand that Martin is in a difficult situation, and that NZC could face significant financial sanction if it pulls out of the tour," Mr Donald said. "However, I believe the steps I have outlined would make pulling out of the tour viable."

Mr Donald has also written to the leaders of all of Parliament's political parties asking for their support of his "Boycott Zimbabwe" campaign, including a commitment to back his call for the Government to cover any fines incurred by NZC and to develop a protocol for deciding which countries New Zealand should cut sporting ties with.

"This issue is too important to become a party political football. It is my hope that we will be able to build cross-party support for a tour boycott and for the Government to develop a protocol for deciding which countries New Zealand sporting teams should not tour."

Mr Donald's letters to Mr Goff, Mr Snedden, and the other party leaders are attached to this press release. They follow letters he sent to members of New Zealand cricket team at the weekend urging them to make themselves unavailable for the tour.

Mr Donald's letter to players was in response to Mr Snedden's comments in an interview in the New Zealand Listener at the weekend that players who made themselves unavailable for the tour on moral grounds would not be punished through future non-selection. Mr Donald believes that individual players pulling out of the tour would make its cancellation more likely.


----

LETTER ONE: Martin Snedden, NZC Chief Executive

Monday 11 April 2005

Martin Snedden

NZ Cricket

PO Box 958

Christchurch

Dear Martin,

I am requesting that New Zealand Cricket use its considerable influence to put pressure on Zimbabwe's oppressive government to end the intimidation of its citizens and allow genuinely free and fair elections to be held.

As you probably know, Robert Mugabe is the patron of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union and is a big cricket fan. Being able to receive international cricketing teams therefore not only brings him personal pleasure but also bestows on him respectability he does not deserve. It would be a significant blow to his regime if all international cricket teams refused to tour his country.

As the country next scheduled to tour Zimbabwe, New Zealand has a special responsibility to take a stand. If the tour is not cancelled, the visit of our official cricket team would be seen as tacit endorsement of the Mugabe regime following so soon after an election which has been widely criticised, including by our own Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff, as rigged and undemocratic.

I believe there are several steps New Zealand Cricket could take, and I urge you to consider taking them. They are:

Ø Write to Mr Goff asking for guidance about whether he thinks the tour should go ahead, as the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) did last year to its Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

Ø Ask Amnesty International (or another respected human rights group), for their view on the merits of pulling out of the Zimbabwe tour. This is similar to actions taken by the ECB, which commissioned a report from Des Wilson, a human rights advisor, on whether the England tour of Zimbabwe should go ahead. Mr Wilson concluded that the ECB should pull out of the tour for moral reasons. He told The Times newspaper, "The safety and security of a touring party can in today's circumstances no longer be the only factor in deciding whether or not to proceed with a controversial tour. Can we tour this country knowing what we do about its stance on human rights and the suffering of its people?"

Ø Consult with other member countries of the International Cricket Council, including the ECB, with a view to introducing global sanctions against playing international cricket against Zimbabwe.

Ø Decide in principle to pull out of the Zimbabwe tour, and ask the Government to underwrite your move. This would involve asking the Government to guarantee it would pay any fine the International Cricket Council imposed on New Zealand Cricket for taking this step.

New Zealanders have a proud history of supporting sporting boycotts to put pressure on governments that abuse the human rights of their citizens. I believe it's time for New Zealand sporting teams to take such a stand against the Zimbabwean regime, which is without doubt oppressive and anti-democratic.

I would like to assure you that I will be also be seeking Government and cross-party support for a tour boycott.

I believe your position will be made much easier if you have political backing for a decision to pull out of the tour, and I hope that in the coming weeks we will be able to secure you that backing.

I thank you for your time and your consideration of this matter.

Kind regards

Rod Donald MP

CC: Phil Goff, Helen Clark, Don Brash, Peter Dunne, Rodney Hide, Jim Anderton, Winston Peters, Tariana Turia.

------

LETTER TWO: Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff

Monday 11 April 2005

Phil Goff

Parliament Buildings

Wellington

Dear Phil,

I applaud the public statements you have made highlighting the widespread human rights violations taking place in Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe's regime. I endorse your declaration that the recent election there was neither free nor fair. I am also heartened by your call in 2003 for Cricket World Cup matches in Zimbabwe to be moved in response to Mugabe's human rights record.

I am therefore writing to you to ask for the Government to do everything in its power to prevent the New Zealand cricket team's proposed tour of Zimbabwe this winter.

As you probably know, Robert Mugabe is the patron of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union and is a big cricket fan. Being able to receive international cricketing teams therefore not only brings him personal pleasure but also bestows on him respectability he does not deserve. It would be a significant blow to his regime if all international cricket teams refused to tour his country.

New Zealanders have a proud history of supporting sporting boycotts to put pressure on governments that abuse the human rights of their citizens. I believe it's time for New Zealand sporting teams to take such a stand against the Zimbabwean regime.

One of the reasons the Springbok Tour was so divisive was that New Zealand's politicians were not willing to put their full weight behind calls for a tour cancellation. I believe that New Zealand could avoid this kind of divisiveness if the Government were willing to stand up for human rights, and stand behind the call for a boycott of the Black Caps' tour of Zimbabwe. Government support for a boycott would also help out New Zealand Cricket because NZC would then have "political cover" for cancelling the tour.

I believe there are several steps the Government should take to support a tour boycott, and I urge you to consider taking them. They are:

Ø Advise New Zealand Cricket that it is the Government's view that the tour to Zimbabwe would not be in New Zealand's foreign policy interests, and thus ask NZC to cancel the tour;

Ø Underwrite the tour cancellation - that is, promise that the Government would cover any fine that New Zealand Cricket faced from the International Cricket Council for pulling out of the tour;

Ø Develop a protocol, in consultation with human rights organisations, for deciding which countries New Zealand should suspend sporting ties with. This should ultimately be a political decision, and it would make the lives of New Zealand sporting administrators much easier if there existed a clear procedure for deciding which countries we should not countenance sporting ties with.

I thank you for your time and your consideration of this matter. Please feel free to call me if you wish to discuss these issues further.

Kind regards

Rod Donald MP

CC: Martin Snedden, Helen Clark, Don Brash, Peter Dunne, Rodney Hide, Jim Anderton, Winston Peters, Tariana Turia.

-----

LETTER THREE: Party leaders

Monday 11 April 2005

Leader's Name

Party's Name

Parliament Buildings

Wellington

Dear Leader's Name,

I am seeking your party's support in calls for the New Zealand cricket team to pull out of its upcoming tour of Zimbabwe. I believe New Zealand Cricket's position will be made much easier if it has the support of as many parties in Parliament as possible.

As you probably know, Robert Mugabe is the patron of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union and is a big cricket fan. Being able to receive international cricketing teams therefore not only brings him personal pleasure but also bestows on him respectability he does not deserve. It would be a significant blow to his regime if all international cricket teams refused to tour his country.

New Zealanders have a proud history of supporting sporting boycotts to put pressure on governments that abuse the human rights of their citizens. I believe it's time for New Zealand sporting teams to take such a stand against the Zimbabwean regime, which is without doubt oppressive and anti-democratic.

One of the reasons the Springbok Tour was so divisive was that New Zealand's politicians were not willing to put their full weight behind calls for a tour cancellation. I believe that New Zealand could avoid this kind of divisiveness if politicians of all stripes were willing to stand up for human rights, and stand behind the call for a boycott of the Black Caps' tour of Zimbabwe. Cross-party support for a boycott would also help New Zealand Cricket because it would then have "political cover" for cancelling the tour.

In short, I believe it's time for New Zealand's political parties to support New Zealand Cricket taking a stand against the Zimbabwean regime.

There are two concrete steps your party could take, and I urge you to consider supporting them. They are:

Ø Request that the Government underwrite the tour cancellation, so that New Zealand Cricket does not have to go through with the tour for fear of being fined by the International Cricket Council.

Ø Support calls for the Government to develop a protocol, in consultation with human rights organisations, for deciding which countries New Zealand should suspend sporting ties with. This should ultimately be a political decision, and it would make the lives of New Zealand sporting administrators much easier if there existed a clear procedure for deciding which countries we should not countenance sporting ties with.

I thank you for your time and consideration of this matter. Please feel free to call me if you wish to discuss these issues further.

Kind regards

Rod Donald MP

CC: Martin Snedden, Phil Goff.


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