Iraq deployment sparks peace vigils around NZ

Seventy people contested with central city rush hour traffic noise in a peace vigil in Auckland
Queen St on March 5.

Robyn Lang, left, holds a Catholics for Peace sign during the vigil next to Aotea Square.

Robyn Lang, left, holds a Catholics for Peace sign during the vigil next to Aotea Square.

The vigil was one of a number to be held in New Zealand that day. Some others were in Dunedin,
Christchurch, Nelson, Takaka, Wellington, Otaki, Raglan, Hamilton, Tauranga and Hokianga.
The vigils, coordinated by Peace Movement Aotearoa, called for increased humanitarian assistance
and diplomatic support for Middle East peace processes, and opposing the military deployment to Iraq to train soldiers for Iraq.
In Auckland, a number of people did their best to address those assembled on the footpath
alongside Aotea Square — as an unending stream of buses, cars, vans and trucks passed by.
Former MP Keith Locke claimed that half the people of New Zealand did not want the nation involved in the war.
He said that the Englishman now known as Jihadi John, notorious for fronting beheading videos, had been an ordinary person and a good worker. He went to Syria as a result of what he saw America doing in the Middle East, and because of harassment of himself by the Secret Service in the United Kingdom.
“And he ended up as a fighter for Islamic State,” Mr Locke said.
Chris Sullivan from east Auckland introduced himself as a a Roman Catholic deacon.
Catholics, he said, believe God is in the world and in the person of human beings. “And human
beings are precious and sacred and the temple of God, and so it follows that whenever we attack
people … we are attacking God in the form of people in the world.”
With regard to the New Zealand Government position, it was good that we are taking a stand
against IS, a group of violent thugs, Deacon Sullivan said.
“Let’s be very clear,” he said. “IS has got nothing to do with Islam.”
However, rather than sending troops to Iraq, Deacon Sullivan said, New Zealand should, first,
concentrate its efforts on providing humanitarian aid and, second, increase its refugee quota.
“For many, many years it has been set at 700 people. It’s nowhere near enough.”
The vigil began at 5pm and continued for about an hour.

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Michael Otto

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