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US Should Provide Mine Clearance Personnel - not N

US Should Provide Mine Clearance Personnel - not NZ!

Global Peace and Justice Auckland is urging the government to abandon plans to send military personnel to Iraq. We are strongly opposed to any such personnel being in Iraq at this time - even if the role is humanitarian or mine clearance.

The New Zealand government has announced it intends to immediately send 3 and then up to 16 such personnel in the coming months.

If we send military personnel at this time then New Zealand will be seen to be part of the occupying force and giving retrospective support for the illegal US/UK invasion. Soldiers from foreign countries are the last people most Iraqi citizens want to see. It will mean little whether our personnel are reporting to the UN rather than the US. Our soldiers would be targets for the Iraqi resistance.

Instead New Zealand would be much more effective if we demanded the US send not 3 but 3000 of its own mine clearance personnel. The cluster bombs were dropped by the US - the mines are theirs. Having created the humanitarian crisis we must pressure them to clean it up. The US was prepared to spend up to $50 billion to invade and occupy Iraq – a minute fraction of that would do the job!

It is pathetic to hear New Zealand politicians call for peacekeepers and a whole range of military personnel to not join the US led invasion force "because we should stand by our traditional allies". This is a legally and morally vacuous attitude.

New Zealand sent peacekeepers to East Timor and they did a splendid job there. However this was specifically after the invading force – the Indonesian army - had left. We should take the same approach to Iraq. Once the occupying force has left we should be prepared to assist a genuinely democratic administration in ways requested of us at that time.

Previously GPJA has urged that New Zealand humanitarian assistance be given through non-governmental organisations which have a track record of quality service during humanitarian crises rather than through the military personnel of any country - including New Zealand.

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