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Locke General Debate Speech: Guantanamo Bay

Keith Locke Guantanamo Bay General Debate

Keith Locke (Green): Yesterday the European Parliament, by a large majority, called for the closure of the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay. Earlier this year I had a similar Guantanamo Bay motion on the Order Paper, but Labour vetoed our having a debate on it in the House. I would like my fellow MPs to become a little bolder on this important matter and risk offending the Bush administration, because there is hardly a Parliament in the world where the majority of MPs are not for the closure of Guantanamo Bay.

This week the Bush administration’s total lack of humanity was exposed when it described the suicide of three Guantanamo Bay inmates as an “act of war” and a “good PR move”. Everyone knows that it was the result of the three men’s despair at being illegally detained, denigrated, and mistreated, year on year, without charge and without any prospect of release, as is the case for hundreds of other prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay hellhole.

The abuse of human rights at Guantanamo Bay should also motivate us to be better—to not act in an arbitrary manner against foreigners in our country and to give them an opportunity to explain themselves, with legal representation if they want it.

This is true whether people are refugees, like Ahmed Zaoui, or here on a student visa, like Rayed Mohammed Abdullah Ali from Saudi Arabia. In Mr Ali’s case, the Government admits that he was not posing any immediate threat to New Zealand security, but it summarily bundled him out of the country on a Draconian section 72 removal order, for no apparent reason other than to avoid his getting legal representation and being able to convey to us his side of the story. Surely, such due process and the Government’s accountability for its actions is relevant when Mr Ali was interrogated intensively after September 11 by American officials who decided he was not a security risk and let him stay in America.

We also should not be helping George Bush to fight his wars, whether in Iraq or in terms of his preparations for nuclear war. That is why it was disturbing to find that Rakon, one of our premier companies, is developing crystal oscillators—be they shock-hardened or G-hardened oscillators for smart shells, or radiation-hardened oscillators—to military specifications laid down by the US defence contractor Rockwell Collins so as to enable the guidance systems on missiles, whether or not nuclear-tipped, to work well in the environment of a nuclear exchange.

The deception involved is also concerning, because last August, when I raised concerns, Rakon put out a press statement saying that it: “was not privy to the end-use systems, equipment, or applications developed by its customers.” That contrasts with what it wrote in internal emails in that same year, as recently exposed by the New Zealand Herald.

These showed that Rakon did know, and that it was developing its oscillators on contract for specific military end uses. Rakon also did not tell the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which governs the export of strategic goods, the full story about the end uses. It did not tell the ministry it was developing radiation-hardened oscillators and what their end use was.

Unfortunately, the ministry now seems to be buying Rakon’s old line that the oscillators are not specifically military. In a reply to a written parliamentary question that I received this week, the ministry ran the argument that radiation-hardened oscillators are also useful in: “satellite communications and the aerospace industry.”

The point is not whether the oscillators have civilian uses but whether they were developed up to a military standard or threshold, which they were. One thing in Rakon’s emails that gives the game away is that Rockwell Collins’ specified that nuclear-hardened oscillators need to function correctly at a depth of 135 metres.

That suggests they will be used for military missiles, because those are the only missiles that need to be launched from an underground silo or a submarine.

As a nuclear-free country and as a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, we should not help America improve its capacity to fight a nuclear war. Instead, we should be pressing it to fulfil its commitments under the non-proliferation treaty to engage in comprehensive nuclear disarmament.

Another area in which we should be careful not to go down the American track is policing, yet that is what this Government is doing by starting a trial of the Taser stun gun, whose 50,000 volt charge has contributed to the death of over 150 Americans in recent times, as documented by Amnesty International.


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