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Deep concern at targeting of NZ-Iraqi Community

9 June 2005

Joint Press Release

Open Letter: Humanitarian organisations deeply concerned at targeting of NZ-Iraqi Community

As organisations involved in the international aid, development and human rights arenas, we are collectively concerned with recent public allegations made against members of the New Zealand-Iraqi community.

We fear these unsubstantiated allegations, made with impunity and under the protection of parliamentary privilege, are clearly politically motivated, and have created a climate in which the New Zealand-Iraqi community suffers from intimidation, uncertainty and stigma.

Iraqi refugees and immigrants have generally come to New Zealand to escape Saddam Hussein's regime, and to build new lives as law-abiding citizens in a peaceful country that respects human rights, including the rights of minorities.

While being loyal to their new homeland, it is only natural Iraqi-New Zealanders continue to feel for the plight of the people in their country of origin. Many send money back to relatives in Iraq, and some have also formed charitable trusts to provide assistance to rebuild a country devastated by decades of dictatorship, sanctions and war.

We see it as a positive development the Iraqi community in New Zealand are now able to contribute to the reconstruction of the country they were forced to flee, at the same time as they continue to make major contributions to life in their new country, New Zealand.

We call on all political parties, media and ordinary New Zealanders to stand up for New Zealand's tradition of tolerance, respect for others, and adherence to human rights.

Stephen Tollestrup
Executive Director TEAR Fund New Zealand

Esther Ducai
Programmes Manager, TEAR Fund New Zealand

Ced Simpson
Executive Director, Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand

Jenni Broom, National Coordinator, RMS Refugee Resettlement

Jonathan Fletcher, Executive Director, Christian World Service

Kevin McBride, National Coordinator, Pax Christi Aotearoa-NZ

David Wakim, Chairman, Pax Christi Aotearoa-NZ

David Hall, Executive Director, The Leprosy Mission New Zealand

Isabelle Duff, Project Manager, The Leprosy Mission New Zealand

Marion Hancock, Director, The Peace Foundation

Paul Bruce, Co-ordinator, Latin American Solidarity Committee Aotearoa


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