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Speech by Jeanette Fitzsimons to Peace Rally

20 September 2001

Speech by Jeanette Fitzsimons to Peace Rally in Wellington

Thank you for coming out today and making a powerful statement that even in the midst of horror and carnage we can hold on to our vision of world peace.

Even as we mourn for the victims and the families of last week's atrocities we must keep alive the belief that vengeance and retaliation lead only to more violence and that our goal is a world where conflict is resolved through negotiation and justice.

We condemn absolutely the evil that has occurred. It cannot be tolerated. Our actions against terrorism must be resolute and effective. But our determination to find those responsible and bring them to justice must be planned with calm heads and wise counsel. We cannot let ourselves become infested with the same hate that motivated those atrocities, and thereby put ourselves in the same moral position of committing similar atrocities.

The first step must be finding real evidence as to who are responsible. The second must be to bring them to an international court for trial and, if they are found guilty, removing them from society for good. There may be a place for armed forces in this strategy provided they are mandated by and under the command of the UN. But there is no place for revenge or retaliation. Killing 5,000 unarmed Afghan civilians who have been terrorised by extremists in their country will not make the score equal.

The lesson of war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq is that bombing raids and air strikes kill thousands of innocent people, escalate the hatred and worsen the violence, while the real criminals escape. I am staggered that anyone could be considering the same strategy again.

The chilling lesson from the events of last week is that the military might of the most powerful national on earth could not protect its citizens from this horror and the most sophisticated spying networks on earth gave us no warning. We must look elsewhere for our security.

ends

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