Keith Locke
NZ must take a stand on human rights abuse in Iran

All eyes were on Iran during its presidential elections on June 12. The re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was seen as fraudulent by many, and set off a spate of protests in following weeks. The crackdown by the Iranian government shocked the world. Many protestors and bystanders were killed or injured; over a thousand were detained.

Though Iran is no longer on the front pages of the newspapers, today, according to Human Rights Watch,  the Iranian authorities are using :

“prolonged harsh interrogations, beatings, sleep deprivation, and threats of torture to extract false confessions from detainees arrested since the disputed June 12 presidential election.”

The denial of human rights to Iranians is nothing new. Religious minorities are another target of the government. In one example, seven Iranian Baha’i’ leaders were arrested in May last year: Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm.

Since that time they have been held at Evin prison, in Tehran, without formal charges or access to their lawyers. The Baha’ faith is banned in Iran, and hundreds of followers have been detained or executed since 1979 – though the government denies religion has anything to do with this. 

It is likely that the Bahai’i leaders will be accused of “espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic republic.” Their trial has recently been postponed yet again, to October.

The international community must make a stand on the abuse of human rights in Iran. I’ve submitted a written question to the Minister of Foreign Affairs asking him just what action the government has taken on the case of the Bahai’i leaders.

51 thoughts on “NZ must take a stand on human rights abuse in Iran

  1. Keith,
    while I dislike your thoughts immensely, I will fight to the death for your right to express them. However, I will object to an attitude that suggests that we, tiny little New Zealand, with the population of a decent sized city, have any right to tell other countries how to behave.

    We have stupid laws that are exceptionally biased sitting on our statute books. As an MP I would really like you to weed out a few and get them rescinded. Start with the “thou shalt not smack a child” bit (objected to by a significant majority of those who chose to exercise their democratic right to vote on the matter, and ignored by all and sundry with seats in the NZ House of Representatives.

    If there are significant Human Rights violations going on anywhere in the world, there are world courts through which to pursue appropriate remedies. However, I think you will find that the UN was established to STOP people from one country interfering in the affairs of another other than by diplomatic means.

    As for Human Rights Watch (HRW), I suggest you find a better source of information. After their ranting about the conditions in IDP camps in Sri Lanka, I went there to see for myself how terrible the camps were, all ready for a fight to ensure the Geneva Conventions, to which Sri Lanka is a signatory, were observed. To my delight I found that what HRW had said was a fabrication, an opinion formed on the basis of conversations initiated by people who had not themselves been to the IDP camps, and followed up by ‘research’ based on discussions with others of similar political persuasion. At no time did HRW go to Sri Lanka and simply look for themselves at what was happening. Reminds me of the weather forecaster who insists it’s a bright sunshiny day when those of us with windows (glass – not electronic unless fed by a webCam) can see the pouring rain and black clouds above us.

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  2. I agree, tiny NZ cannot fight all the wrongs in the world, how about getting our own ills fixed first, we have enough of them.

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  3. Thankyou for bringing the plight of the Baha’is to the attention of the blog readers. While there are many problems worldwide it is a core belief of the Baha’is that we are all part of one human family and that the injury of one is an injury to us all. The best source of data on the situation of Iranian Baha’is is probably http://www.iranpresswatch.org/ . New Zealand has 3-4,000 Baha’is from all walks of life and has been in New Zealand for about a century.

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  4. Dave S: Kieths portfolio is not the ‘child smacking’ issue nor is the above article. In case you have read the above it is about human rights , which I consider to be universal.
    Kieth has done the right thing by writing to the minister of foriegn affairs, after all lodging a protest is not necessarily interfering.

    As one who has been involved with the Bahai movement I think your attitude as an MP pretty appaulling. I know damned well to what extent the Bahai communities have suffered in Iran since 1844.
    You may well have been to the IDP camps in Sri Lanka but did you check out the Bahai community in Iran?

    For those who are genuinly interested in the above post in 1844 the Bahai movement attempted to reform the Shiite religion.
    Some of the reforms that I remember were: -
    (1) First priority is to educate women as they are the first educators for the next generation.
    (2) Science and religion should agree, if they don’t, there is something wrong with either the science or the religion.
    (3) In the Bahai faith there are elections where 9 elders are elected onto the local assembly. How many religions have elections?
    (4) Equal rights for women and men.
    (5) The establishment of a World Commonwealth government to stop the arming of individual nations and establish a World Court to resolve global conflicts.
    The above precepts written in the 1840′s were way ahead of their time. Was Marxs’ Capital written then? What about the sufferegette movement?
    Don’t forget this was Iran during the decay of the Ottoman Empire not London, Berlin or Paris.

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  5. Taken long enough, Iran has been executing teenagers for crimes for years, but strangely enough the Greens have never been too excited about Iran for a long time, despite its own despicable internal record, sponsorship of terrorism, continued flouting of IAEA requests.

    When will there be a protest march to the Embassy in Roseneath to burn some Iranian flags? Better late than never I suppose.

    It’s appropriate to point at the illegitimate military regime now in control of Iran, appropriate that succuour be given to the brave Iranians seeking to overthrow it. The IR Iran has been a despicably murderous and vile regime since its inception (not saying the Shah was not vile), it is the second biggest (known) executor of prisoners after China (though nobody ever knows what North Korea is up to).

    So yes, I agree with Keith’s sentiments, but i wont really believe the Greens and its supporters have their heart in this, until they start wanting to burn Iranian flags and confront the Embassy as much as they do the US.

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  6. Maybe it’s just me, but I think the biggest problem in Iran it’s religion. Everybody is indoctrinated so much, that they don’t even think about evolving. They consider it’s their duty to act like that in the name of religion. Starting from here they developed problems regarding women and human rights in general.

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  7. That’s right gosolar and those Kura Kaupapa students should solve the issues of violence by Maori before they even think of writing to any mayor about the spelling of a Maori place name!

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  8. “When will there be a protest march to the Embassy in Roseneath to burn some Iranian flags?”

    Soon as you organise one, Scott. Let me know – I’ll come.

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  9. Nothing we do will ever be good enough for the libertarians. Of course :)

    Heck, even National are sell-out pinko socialists according to libertarians…

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  10. I’m with Liberty Scott on this one; I’ll wait and see before I believe that the Green Party actually firmly stands with this one. I would also be keen to see something about the human rights abuses of North Korea, which should horrify every human being out there.

    Of course, this might not happen simply because the Green Party doesn’t really despise anyone but the United States.

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  11. I agree Keith, but until we stop trying to impose our opinions through force in other countries, why should anyone listen to us?
    NZ is fast becoming a nation of hypocrites.
    We speak out on Iraq, but we fight in Afganistan.
    We protest Iran, but we support Israeli occupations.
    We criticise governing classes then fail to act in solidarity with their citizens when we know about human rights violations (East Timor etc)

    Keith your moral grounding is beyond admirable. If only other politicans had your integrity, then our moral highground may be more than just a castle built on sand.

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  12. As libertyscott notes there are a bunch of Iranians who are attempting to “overthrow” the current reg^H^H^Hgovernment.

    Perhaps we should consider for a moment what would be the current New Zealand’s government’s response to an attempt to overthrow it? The state would use any amount of force it requires to resist such an attempt, and given that citizens outnumber the state by a large margin, if a significant proportion of the population were involved in such an attempt, things could get very ugly very quickly.

    Thus although we may not like what is going on in Iran, there should be no surprise. Staes do what states have to do.

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  13. Drakula
    re “You may well have been to the IDP camps in Sri Lanka but did you check out the Baha’i community in Iran?”

    No. Have you?

    You comment that “Kieths (sic) portfolio is not the ‘child smacking’ issue nor is the above article,” is gratuitous in that I did not suggest either of those were facts, I stated that we, New Zealand, have a vast number of inappropriate laws on our statute books and our members of parliament would do well to look to correct those before criticising the laws of other countries. As the old wives say, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    Next, your comment “As one who has been involved with the Baha’i movement I think your attitude as an MP pretty appalling” is beyond me totally! I have never been involved with the Baha’i movement, and I am not an MP! Perhaps you have more facts to check than the state of things in Iran.

    Finally, let me remind you that New Zealand is a sovereign state, and we do not take kindly to any other state trying to tell us what our laws and regulations should be. If you think that isn’t true, look at the reaction to our prohibition of nuclear fueled vessels in our sovereign waters, and how we responded to that reaction. Let he who is without fault throw the first stone – but I somehow don’t think you will qualify!

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  14. Everyone agrees North Korea sucks. Why would a small party spend time promoting the fact? The US on the other hand has way more impact in the world and there is much disagreement on whether its military actions are a positive thing. Further, NZ is actively involved in supporting these actions in Afghanistan, so that’s naturally what political debate should focus on. Your straw man of North Korea is put forward simply to deflect discussion from the real issue.

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  15. So Keith Locke, who supported the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, criticises the Iranian regime.

    Beginning to see the pattern here;

    If the perpetrators of the carnage are Marxists, it’s alright.

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  16. Like oob, I’m beginning to see a pattern!
    Any post that mentions Keith Locke will have oob sweep in like a demented vulture, dry-throatily-croaking his bitter untruths. He’s as regular as clockwork and about as interesting.

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  17. Dave S – so your one visit to Sri Lanka ( very probably closely supervised by the Sri Lankan Authorities) trumps the hundreds of observations by HRW which showed the exact opposite. Get real – So we should all shut up & let ‘the UN’ deal with all Human Rights violations across the world. What a foolsh statement !

    As for smacking children it is of course equivalent to locking innocent people up, torturing them to extract false confessions & then shooting them for their beliefs !

    You’re probably one of those who roundly approves of Guantamamo & the shocking treatment of innocents there by the Criminal US Bush Administration. Torture is fine eh if it extracts information to ‘keep us safe’.

    I say keep us safe from people like you – we should all keep quiet & let the torturers get on with their dirty work, whatever they do in our name and under what-ever rock they hide.

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  18. Like the woolly Mammoth Oob never forgets nor does he forgive. Of course he has never made any statement that turns out to be false or mis-informed, even in his revolutionary youth (joke).

    Kieth fully deserves our forbearance for walking ‘naked’ down the street after his rather lavish bet against Rodney. All power to you Kieth.

    Also because there are many evils in the world we must never speak out until all ills in our own back yard are set right. Gagged by our own hubris – another ludicrous statement from ‘the right’.

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  19. OK Big Blue, let’s do this!

    “so your one visit to Sri Lanka”
    Erm, about the 30th, I haven’t kept count and couldn’t be bothered to find the old passports and check. My wife is a native, and at the most recent family wedding there were 37 cousins present, plus spouses, children, grandchildren, parents and grandparents. As they live all over the place I’ve seen a LOT of the country.

    “very probably closely supervised by the Sri Lankan Authorities”
    Whoops! Wrong again. As owner of the biggest civil engineering company in the Republic, my brother in law has the contract for all such work in the camps, and employs about 1,700 of the IDPs to do the work. He goes up every week to personally make sure everything is going to plan, and invited me to come along for the ride. I was able to wander round three of the camps and talk to the people there freely.

    “trumps the hundreds of observations by HRW which showed the exact opposite. Get real. ”
    Again, you are misinformed or just plain making it up. HRW don’t claim to have visited the Sri Lankan IDP camps at all, never mind doing it hundreds of times! They have drawn their opinion from comments made to them by members of the Tamil Diaspora, who have themselves not visited the camps but claim to know people who have.

    “So we should all shut up & let ‘the UN’ deal with all Human Rights violations across the world. What a foolsh statement ! ”
    Really? Why? Define Human Rights? If Russia decided to come here and take issue with the way we administer Human Rights in New Zealand, or if HRW were to try it for that matter, I assume you would have no objection.

    THE REALITY IN THE IDP CAMPS IN SRI LANKA, is that while many would like to be in a real home back in their villages, they know, from personal observation, that those villages were mined and booby trapped by the LTTE as they retreated from them. The Vanni is a dangerous place for pedestrians, and they know when they are well off. Unlike when they were under the control of a terrorist regime (yes, the LTTE was branded internationally as terrorist), they have three proper meals a day, free access to water, education for their children and training in many crafts for those men who want it and in home-economics for the women. (Yeah – I know – they should all be able to get what training they want but this is there not here and they have their own customs.)

    As far as “ smacking children it is of course equivalent to locking innocent people up, torturing them to extract false confessions & then shooting them for their beliefs, I am surprised at you holding this opinion. Personally I just think it is wrong to have a statute on the books (such as it being illegal to have An@l intercourse with your wife if you and she so desire,) that make an adult a criminal (caught, charged and prosecuted for their crime or not,) for applying, in the case of the smacking issue, basic and reasonable discipline to their children. I love it when I hear the protests about the unacceptable behaviour of school children and the danger teachers face every day, from those who have fought to ensure that teaching children right from wrong, and that disciplinary action and consequences will follow if you do wrong is not acceptable in our country.

    As for, You’re probably one of those who roundly approves of Guantamamo (sic) & the shocking treatment of innocents there by the Criminal US Bush Administration. Torture is fine eh if it extracts information to ‘keep us safe’. This is a total misreading of my character. I abhor violence, and believe what GWB did to subvert the constitution and laws of the USA by establishing Guantanamo as a venue of illegal detention and torture is not only illegal but also immoral.

    Finally, I say keep us safe from people like you, who don’t support those who believe in setting our own house in order, but believe we have some right to interfere in the happenings of other countries whose actions we don’t agree with.

    In the same way as I believe enforcement of New Zealand law should be left to the police and court system, I believe there are appropriate tools in place to deal with abrogation of international laws and treaties, and we should leave them to it. I do not think it right that organisations like HRW, who pay their New York staff on average US$165,000 per annum and yet plead poverty and ask for donations, have any right to interfere in or comment on the workings of New Zealand, or any other country, as a means to perpetuate their life-style and standard of living.

    I wish you a good evening and a more factual future.

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  20. Dave S; You misunderstand I Drakula was involved with the Bahai faith enough to know that the persecutions that Keith talks about are correct.

    You did not state clearly who was MP but I shold have read it more carefully.

    If New Zealand as a sovereign state was critisised by another sovereign state over human rights abuses, then as a patriot I will support that critic for moraly being in the right.

    Gone are the days of “My country right or wrong”.

    oob Keith locke supported the Khmer Rouge? Where did you get your facts?
    I may point out that if it wasn’t for Nixon and Henry Kissinger carpet bombing Cambodia and destroying it’s supply of food the Khemer Rouge would not exist. For every action there is a re-action and when it comes to food a very radical re-action

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  21. I may point out that if it wasn’t for Nixon and Henry Kissinger carpet bombing Cambodia and destroying it’s supply of food the Khemer Rouge would not exist. For every action there is a re-action and when it comes to food a very radical re-action

    And had the Cambodian Government made sure that the Viet Cong weren’t using their country as a bypass, then the American Government would not have needed to bomb Cambodia.

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  22. At least we agree about anal intercourse, if that’s what you’re referring to. Do you mean that we’ve been breaking the law all this time & didn’t know it. Is it also illegal for a wife to ‘allow’ it ?

    My apologies for assuming you had not visited Sri Lanka more than a few times – however the opinions of your relatives are obviously one-sided & more than likely based on hear-say as much as you claim mine are. I believe it is wrong for us as a nation to ‘stay out of other peoples business’ – I say it IS our business if regimes turture & maim their population, deny them their rights of self determination & independence and to live under the rule of law – not the law of the jungle – repression and Genocide.

    The fact that we should get our own house in order does not preclude us from stating a strong opinion about repression & torture in other nations. Do you look over your back fence and carry on with your business when you see a neighbours child being beaten and abused, or do you speak out ?

    The fact that HRW staff are paid any amount of $$ does not effect our duty to speak out against abuses. No. Good skilled people cost money.

    The statement about smacking children was meant as irony, and is not my opinion – please !

    Of course Russia has no right to ‘come here and take issue with the way we adminster human rights’ but does have the right to speak out in an international forum or their Parliament, for example, if we compare badly with them or any other nation in that field as measured by internationally agreed norms.

    Definition of human rights – The US Constitution has a fair stab at it don’t you think ?

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  23. BBK
    Just one comment and then I’ll agree to differ if you will.

    You said
    “the opinions of your relatives are obviously one-sided & more than likely based on hear-say as much as you claim mine are.”

    The opinions quoted are mine, not those of my relatives. However, for the record let me state that I’ve lost track of the ethnic heritage of the family! The wedding we are going to in November will join together a christian/Sinhalese with a buddhist/Tamil with the blessing of two fathers one of whom is Hindi. The idea that we, as a family, might exhibit a common bias with regard to the Sri Lankan government:LTTE conflict would be somewhat laughable, if all did not agree that terrorism is wrong no matter what its purpose.

    Have a Wonderful Wednesday ad may your god be with you. (PS I am Gaian).

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  24. “..At least we agree about anal intercourse..”

    that has to be one of the more arresting opening lines in a blog comment..

    ..for..oh..!..ages..!

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  25. Oh Fill
    there you go
    straight to the smutty end of the line

    Go take a tablet and get the heart back to its usual 30 bpm – we were talking about the law, not your fantasies.

    good pun though – you get a point for that!

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  26. john-ston says:
    September 9, 2009 at 12:25 am

    > And had the Cambodian Government made sure that the Viet Cong weren’t using their country as a bypass, then the American Government would not have needed to bomb Cambodia.

    And if the US government had not chosen to support a puppet government in South Vietnam, the Viet Cong would never have needed to build a trail through Cambodia.

    I’m sure this blame game can go on for ever.

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  27. hey..!..in yr own mind..eh..?

    i just said what he said..

    re pun..?..i didn’t think you’d notice…

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  28. “Everybody is indoctrinated so much, that they don’t even think about evolving. ”

    Sorry to be harsh, but this is just a load of codswallop.

    Iranian society is well-educated, full of thinking, “evolving” and relatively open-minded people. They aren’t a bunch of “indoctrinated” drones. The problem is that they are held in thrall by a minority that has formed an authoritarian, bureaucratic and savagely conservative government that supresses those who want to move on.

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  29. Yeah… they needed to make the “keep and bear arms” thing a bit clearer and that one has certainly evolved strangely, but a real bill-of-rights is one of the things my country still has that I can be reasonably proud of.

    There are still those who understand the ideal…. but not enough of us put the country before our own profit or power.

    Government-Sachs is now in charge… and they are charging everything. The overdraft they are laying up for future generations is a black-hole, and there will be a default. Not tomorrow, but there is not, in any sane interpretation of reality, any way that future generations will be able to discharge the debt in real dollars.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  30. Terrorism in whatever form IS a blight on all of us. The difficulty surely is to distinguish between self-determination – freedom fighters – terrorism – repression – etc.,

    To return to the Iranian question, it is a shame that Amadinajad continues to imprison, terrorise, execute, and frustrate any attempts to free his population from the grip of repression by Religious fanatics who claim authority from ‘god’. A sick joke ! Beware those who say their authority comes from the ‘Devine’.

    The ‘Right to Bear Arms’ is a confusion in my opinion in the US general interpretation of their Constitution – The Supreme Court hasn’t helped in their attempts to clarify it either.

    The NRA however still insists on the individuals right to bear arms – my reading tells me that the intention was for local militias to be permitted to bear arms in defence against Tyranny, not each & every one to have a gun for self defence (or attack) against another individual. The powerful lobby of the NRA & others will forever frustrate attempts to change that though.

    More mayhem, murder, and shoot-outs will maybe persuade lawmakers to frustrate the gun brigade but I doubt it.

    Whilst fear rules and Natural Justice/Law is flouted we can have little hope of real change also in NZ re the bearing of arms ( how many guns are held illegally – many ).

    Perhaps finally – good luck with your multi-ethnic wedding, my family too has Tamil & Hindi close connections – my ‘brown’ Grand-daughter is indeed a delight, as is my Indonesian/Maori Grand-Niece.

    Let not fear reign !

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  31. Kahikatea; This blame game does not go on forever that’s for sure, this blame game stopped firmely at the door of the US in 1973 when the US. imperialists had to vacate Saigon (HoChi Mingh City).

    By Mac Namara’s own admission the whole war was a jack up, the Gulf of Tonkin incident when exposed revealed that the Viet Cong were not invading the South.
    As a result the so called ‘domino theory’ that was promoted at the time was totaly discredited.

    So Vietnam is now a ‘communist regime’ right? Now can anybody out there tell me why the G20 nations (especially Aust & NZ) are not jumping up and down warning us of an imminent threat of invasion of those evil commo’s from up North?

    Then maybe someone can inform oob who the real perpetrators of these conflicts are.

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  32. Valis: “Everyone agrees North Korea sucks. Why would a small party spend time promoting the fact?” Yes, why give a damn about a regime that imprisons entire families from babies up, for life, for offending the Dear Leader. A regime that puts children into work as slave labourers in concentration camps, that uses political prisoners to test weapons.

    You don’t think that an international coalition of pressure against this repulsive regime wouldn’t put pressure on it to reform?

    Silly me. Yes fuck the USA, it is still the only country keeping the South of Korea from going the same way, or being incinerated in the process.

    Back to Iran. I would have thought it would be appropriate for the Greens to take a proportionate view to regimes that torture and murder based on the extent, scale and nature of how they do so. North Korea should be at the top of the list, for example. Iran not far below. Turkmenistan, Burma, Equatorial Guinea, Saudi Arabia etc all come not far behind. China is heaven compared to North Korea though (and has been getting better for the last 30 or so years)

    One needs to watch civil liberties at home and in the West, and the Greens have sometimes been laudable on this – but what looks like selective attention towards others raises all sorts of accusations (oh and I put Keith Locke’s Khmer Rouge folly firmly in the past, silly boy).

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  33. Valis: “Everyone agrees North Korea sucks. Why would a small party spend time promoting the fact?” Yes, why give a damn about a regime that imprisons entire families from babies up, for life, for offending the Dear Leader. A regime that puts children into work as slave labourers in concentration camps, that uses political prisoners to test weapons.

    Another straw man, as I’ve implied no such thing. The difference, of course, is that NZ does not support the regime in North Korea in its crimes and the Greens support that position. Our sympathy is with any oppressed people, but our domestic political action is naturally first to question any support NZ may provide for countries bad deeds elsewhere and second to draw attention to where NZ or the international community isn’t acknowledging crimes in other countries.

    You don’t think that an international coalition of pressure against this repulsive regime wouldn’t put pressure on it to reform?

    It seems to me NK is the most ostricised nation on Earth and we certainly haven’t complained about that. Exactly what international movement are we standing in the way of?

    Back to Iran. I would have thought it would be appropriate for the Greens to take a proportionate view to regimes that torture and murder based on the extent, scale and nature of how they do so. North Korea should be at the top of the list, for example. Iran not far below. Turkmenistan, Burma, Equatorial Guinea, Saudi Arabia etc all come not far behind. China is heaven compared to North Korea though (and has been getting better for the last 30 or so years)

    Such lists are great and currently exist on the websites of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, but our first responsibility as Kiwis is to fix our own foreign policy. That’s what we have some real control over. Let’s make sure we’re not even indirectly responsible for any human rights abuse, at least at the same time as we complain about countries we have little or no influence over?

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  34. I agree that it is all too easy for opportunistic politicians to point the finger at human rights abuses in other countries, while paying inadequate attention to what is going on within their own borders. That does not mean that one should refrain from all comment on what is happening in other jurisdictions. There just has to be a degree of veracity, consistency impartiality in the comments made.

    Part of the problem for the the Bahai faith has been of its own making. The Bahai supported the regime of the Shah, with many Bahai highly placed in the military and security services of that regime, and Bahai were themselves complicit in serious human rights abuses. The Bahai need to re-assess their past conduct, and re-examine the theological justifications which they presented for supporting the Shah’s rule.

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  35. Geoff

    My brother is a Baha’i and the allegations about the Shah are just one of a long LONG litany of complaints lodged against them by people with closed minds and fists.

    The religion has nothing to do with secular power except that its adherents tend to be smart, flexible, tolerant and therefore successful. The religion says that they are to cooperate with secular authority.

    Had there been any such authority in Iran since the fall of the Shah, they would probably be involved in that as well.

    The Baha’i faith challenges the beliefs of the Shiite majority. The resulting persecution has been constant, since the faith was established.

    If you swallow the accounts of the current regime in Iran at face value you will not get the truth about that religion… nor perhaps, ANY other.

    The persecution of the Baha’i under the current regime is about as well established as such things get short of actually finding the “shower” rooms at Auschwitz.

    BJ

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  36. Succint as always BJ; not to distract, but just look at this quote – takes this morning’s prize of a free week for two in the Dunedin Bus Shelter of your choice!

    “Our rulers make the news, but they do not appear in the news, not as they really are-not as a political class, a governing establishment, a body of leaders with great and pervasive powers, with deep, often dark, ambitions. In the American republic, the fact of oligarchy is the most dreaded knowledge of all, and our news keeps that knowledge from us. By their subjugation of the press, the political powers in America have conferred on themselves the greatest of political blessings-Gyges’ ring of
    invisibility. And they have left the American people more deeply baffled by their own country’s politics than any people on earth. Our public realm lies steeped in twilight, and we call that twilight news.” : Walter Karp

    Cowabunga Dude!

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  37. The first two headlines this morning are more topical but:

    “Afghan group says German-ordered airstrike killed 70 civilians :
    Afghan Rights Monitor, an independent human rights group, reported that its survey of the area following Friday’s attack shows it killed as many as 70 villagers who were siphoning gas from the vehicles after they became stuck on a sand spit in the Kunduz River.

    US General Stanley McChrystal, head of the International Forces in Afghanistan (Isaf), decided to ban boozing after launching an investigation into the bombing in northern Afghanistan. Staff at the Kabul headquarters were ‘either drunk or too hungover’ to answer his questions.”

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  38. BJ Chip

    The fact (more than an allegation) is that Bahai were prominent in the security services of the Shah’s regime, and if they had not been complicit in the Shah’s abuses of human rights , then arguably they would be better tolerated by the present regime.

    I suggest that the Bahai principle of “cooperating with secular authority” needs to be re-considered. It is neither “smart” nor “tolerant” to directly associate oneself with a regime which employs torture and murder and brute force to retain its hold over the population. The Bahai need to exercise proper judgment in the matter, and to determine with which regimes one can legitimately cooperate, in what manner and to what extent.

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  39. I think YOU Geoff, need to take cognizance of the fact that the Baha’i were persecuted long before the time of the Shah and are persecuted and killed now. In other words, get real.

    The presence of individuals of a given faith in some regime is no indication of what the faith itself is about.

    I have no doubt that some Baha’i, like some Christians , got mixed up in politics when they should not have. For that faith, this is a mistake that calls for excommunication.

    …. and the Baha’i got beaten up on the Shah’s watch too. Just not as much as they did before or after. Not that the Ayatollahs will tell you about those little details. They are not going to stop until they have annihilated that religion in Iran. During the Shah’s regime Baha’i were still not allowed to have their marriages recognized, all Baha’i children were “illegitimate” and all married adults “adulterers”. Their religion was not recognized by the Shah. Not protected as a religion.

    http://www.aa.psu.edu/journals/war-crimes/articles/V1/v1n1a3.pdf

    Reading screeds of propaganda from either side will not get you the truth. Looking at the long history, from the mobs in Yazd to the present, will give you a far more accurate picture.

    Since I know my Brother, and I know something of the Baha’i religion through him, I find it difficult to understand how you can get such a perverse perspective on what is actually a very peaceful and NON-political religion.

    What is happening and what has happened in Iran never justified the destruction of a peaceful religious organization and the persecution of its people as has been inflicted on the Baha’i.

    BJ

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  40. 2nd ammendment – I thouught the Supreme Court had ruled that the right to bear arms was an indiuvidual right, and more than that, they ruled that since you had an individual right to bear arms you had a right to use them too, since right of possession was pointless without right of use.

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  41. Yes dbuckley the 2nd ammendment is an individual right, bigblukiwi is more than welcome to come on over to the US and take away peoples guns. Good luck on that one, though before doing so I’d suggest he actually read some works by the founding fathers on the subject.

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  42. I take it that 2nd amendment comment was addressed to me?

    Long answer coming.

    The problem is that in a rural society where everyone knows everyone else, guns are hard to make and expensive to buy, and crazy people get cared for or locked up, it can be managed just as it was.

    In other words, 200 years ago, it worked out OK. Bring it forward to the present day, and there is trouble in river city, and mountain city and New York city. Any city in fact.

    The Constitution is subject to amendment, and that was what should have happened with this provision… NOT that the right should be withdrawn, but that its exercise wants a more appropriate set of limitations and explanations.

    Excepting convicted felons and the criminally insane was a reasonable start, but the NRA is determined that the state shall not know who has guns. The result is that effectively there is NO limit on who can get a gun.

    The only implementation of control on offer has been registering the guns. Not good either, but it works here, and CAN be made to work if needful.

    I actually agree somewhat with the NRA and the founders, as there is a theoretical danger that as things become more dangerous, the state will decide to round up all the guns to prevent them used against the state.

    However, that reasoning is flawed greatly if it is applied to the current situation in which just about anyone can buy just about anything.

    First, because the words “A well-ordered militia being essential to…” are part of the amendment. That implies SOME sort of training in the use of the firearm and military discipline and membership in some group that in fact pursues those goals. Which isn’t the case.

    Second, because it won’t be the police coming to get them. If on a local level my group of “patriots” starts armed insurrection against the state, it will either be the 101st Airborne knocking on my door, or a general insurrection in which that organization is at war with itself.

    I have no illusions about shooting it out with the US military. Neither should a 2nd amendment nutcase. In the case where the military is divided against itself, records of which folks on my block have guns are going to be difficult or impossible to access and utilize at a national level and – the weapons won’t be IN the gun case. They will already be out and in use on one side or the other.

    Moot point.

    The real issue is whether the current situation in the US is justified by the 2nd amendment. I submit that it is not. There is a purpose to that amendment and I think it a good one, but it is no longer usefully worded or implemented.

    Interstate traffic between states with different laws relating to firearms makes a mockery of any attempt by any state to regulate itself. Yet the states are explicitly responsible for THEIR militias and firearms regulations. It (the second amendment) has made a mess. It wants cleaning up.

    However, like what is about to happen in Copenhagen… it won’t happen.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  43. It WAS directed at someone else. I didn’t see that. Thanks Turnip

    I think you are quite correct that it is an individual right. However, it WAS granted in a context which is too often ignored.

    The problem is that in the current environment, we need to somehow support the state’s rights to regulate and to enforce THEIR gun ownership laws , and that in turn implies some sort of national means of enforcing local law.

    All in all it is quite messy. I doubt that the answer is easy, even if there were the national willingness to seek it.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  44. Valis: NZ taxpayers helped fund the programme that was designed to stop North Korea develop nuclear weapons. It failed miserably. NZ has diplomatic relations with North Korea, hardly isolated when for years such relations were withheld from South Africa for being evil on a far lesser scale. NZ taxpayers fund organisations supplying aid to NK that has been misused by the regime.

    There isn’t a NZ military presence supporting Burma and China, but you campaign vigorously against both regimes. Why? Out of sight, out of mind in NK? Haven’t seen the Green press release supporting the HRNK campaign.

    Now the Greens wake up to Iran, another country NZ hardly provides succuour to, so when does Pyongyang get to hear from you?

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  45. I personally think diplomatic relations should exist with all countries, so we may agree there, though I’m not sure I’m reading you right. Burma and China we have trading relationships with. Trade with China is huge and it greatly colours our relationship with them, so is fair game. Our recent criticism re Burma was because NZ was inviting members of the ruling cabal to NZ for training. Is our relationship with NK at all comparable to that? Genuine question, I really don’t know. We also trade with Iran, of course.

    And regarding Iran, you seem to think they are very bad in your original post, first complaining that we’ve come to the party late, but in later posts that we should direct our focus elsewhere. And while I don’t really disagree with the thrust of your latest post, my original comment was elicited because of the implication by you, but mostly john-ston, that the US shouldn’t be criticised. Nothing you’ve said convinces me that that is in any way valid. I’m quite happy to criticise both for their wrongs. You don’t seem to be able to say the same.

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  46. Yes Burma and China are fair game, but few acknowledge China has greatly improved over recent years. For example, it is not uncommon to see criticism and protests over government actions in the Chinese media nowadays – something unheard of 20 years ago. NZ does have a relationship with NK, though trade is insignificant as NK has little to sell and wants little NZ sells.

    No, I am glad there is interest in Iran. I don’t think the US should be immune, I just observe the proportionate response and enthusiasm in criticising the US, compared to regimes that are demonstrably far more evil, and which continually repress their citizens on an Orwellian scale. Waterboarding terrorist subjects in Guantanamo Bay might be wrong, but imprisoning and enslaving small children for the alleged political crimes of their families is on another level. The true horrors of North Korea are one step short of the Khmer Rouge – and it’s an outrage that there isn’t the eyes of the world pointing and shaming over this.

    Read Aquariums of Pyongyang, the story of a man imprisoned as a 9yo (with his 7yo sister) in a gulag with his family, before being released and fleeing through China (China’s conduct over NK refugees is also despicable). No aid should reach NK until it allows non-NK red cross to visit its prisons or for aid to be distributed directly to the needy – as it routinely takes aid and uses it for the military.

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  47. BJ that was the point I was trying to make but not half as well as you have – that the Supreme Court’s interpretation has muddied the waters – it is a mess but will it ever be cleared up ?

    My view is that it is all too late anyway – there are just too many guns out there & the numbers grow exponentially. Heaven help America when the sh*t hits the fan – as it seems it might.

    The latest Hullabaloo about Health Care Reform is the case in point – Beck, O’Rielly and all that crowd seem intent on egging on the nut-cases who are armed to the teeth – apparently Obama is receiving literally hundreds of death threats every day – how long will he last ?

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  48. Turnip28 – I have, it didn’t change my view that the current ‘popular’ interpretations of the gun laws vis a vis the Constitution are a mis-interpretation of what was intended by the Founding Fathers.

    I am absolutely convinced that it was not their intention that every individual had the ‘right under the Constitution’ to be armed to the teeth with AK47′s, Grenade Launchers, M16 Machine Guns and all sorts of other lethal weapons which are all too frequently used against innocents.

    Jefferson said (paraphrased) Establishment Bankers are only just above Standing Armies in their degree of dangerousness.

    This implies to me that he meant too ‘standing armies of the populace (so-called Patriot Groups) armed with many lethal weapons’, although he was certainly referring to standing armies of the State & ‘State established Banks’

    As far as ‘going over there and removing guns from individuals’, well what can I say ? perhaps just treat it as a facetious comment & leave it at that.

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  49. I don’t think the US should be immune, I just observe the proportionate response and enthusiasm in criticising the US, compared to regimes that are demonstrably far more evil, and which continually repress their citizens on an Orwellian scale.

    OK we mostly agree, but I would still argue that US foreign policy can be as evil a force in the world as just about anything. An obvious example is the sanctions imposed on Iraq in the 1990′s. It was estimated that 5000 children under five were dying every month for years on end, over and above the expected mortality rates, due simply to the US preventing things like medicine and water treatment infrastructure into Iraq. The total came to something in excess of 750,000 children and when adults were added in up to 1.5m people are estimated to have died. Several senior UN officials in Iraq resigned saying they did not want to take part in genocide, which is exactly what it was. The Secretary of State was asked about it on tv and said it was worth it to contain Saddam. If that isn’t evil, then we really do come from different planets. And knowing the US is capable of that should make Kiwis VERY wary of what exactly is being done in their names when the NZ govt provides support to for US wars in other countries.

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