Keith Locke
Latest terrorist designations undermine New Zealand’s role as a peacemaker

One of my aims, as a Green MP, has been to get New Zealand to specialise in international peacemaking, using Norway as a model.

Norway has used its good offices, and specialist advisers, to sponsor peace talks in Sri Lanka, Sudan, the Middle East, and the Philippines.

It has been able to play this mediating role because it has not declared any of the parties to the talks as terrorist organisations.

Norway has had mixed success. In the Sudan progress was made because the big Western powers also engaged with the peace process, and this year there will be a referendum on independence in southern Sudan. The peace talks in Sri Lanka broke down, mainly because instead of engaging the US, Britain, Australia and the EU sided with one party, the Sri Lankan government, and declared the Tamil Tigers a terrorist organisation. Around 30,000 Sri Lankans died in the war that followed.

Since Benigno Aquino assumed the Philippine presidency in June there have been hopes for a resumption of stalled peace negotiations between the government and the leftist National Democratic Front, hosted by Norway.

These are made more difficult by the US declaring the two main components of the NDF, the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army, to be terrorist organisations.

Yesterday John Key followed suit, putting these two organisations on New Zealand’s terrorist list.

He also put six other organisations on the list, including the military wings of Hamas and Hizbollah. This is plain silly, when surely the main task of countries like New Zealand is to encourage peace negotiations between Israel and the governments in Gaza (Hamas) and Lebanon (where the government includes Hizbollah ministers).

In his statement yesterday John Key said that “All seven of the entities [designated] have carried out various terrorist acts, including the indiscriminate killing of civilians.”

Yes, in the conflict in the Middle East and the Philippines many civilians have been killed, but both sides have been to blame. In fact, if you read the reports of Amnesty International and other human rights agencies, the governments of Israel and The Philippines have been responsible for most of the ‘indiscriminate killing of civilians”.

We need peace talks to solve these conflicts, not countries like New Zealand defining one side as the ‘terrorists’ and encouraging a military solution.

29 thoughts on “Latest terrorist designations undermine New Zealand’s role as a peacemaker

  1. Thanks very much for writing this Keith. Ever since the US and EU listed the Communist Party of the Philippines as a terrorist group in 2002 it has meant peace talks have broken down and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have been able to massacre civilians involved in trade unions, student organisations and peasant groups with absolute impunity, while still receiving large amounts of military aid from Western countries. The Philippines is only second to Colombia for numbers of extra judicial killings of civilian political activists each year.

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  2. I’m interested, would under any circumstances you support the listing of an organization being a terrorist one, Keith (say Al Quaeda, as the archtype example)?

    It seems here that what you’re saying is that once an organization is strong enough to represent a credible force to be negotiated with, that calling them a “terrorist” is unhelpful. To me this seems to tie legitimacy with power, which creates motivation to strive for power at all costs. That hardly seems peaceful.

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  3. More proof that Aotearoa/NZ is still attached to Britain & USA ‘apron strings’. Surely we can make our own decisions, who are the threats to us ?!
    Kia-ora

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  4. WILL KEY OUTLAW THE NZ COMMUNIST PARTY?

    Hamas is a democratically elected government so it seems to me that whoever Mr. Key puts on his ‘terrorist list’ is his (or the NAT’s) perception of what constitutes a ‘terrorist’, is not necessarily the opinions of the majority of New Zealanders/Aotearoan’s.

    I very much resent Mr. Keys’ support for real terrorist regimes such as Israel, Philipines and Sri Lanka who are actively repressing the progressive labour movements.

    What will he do next outlaw the NZ Communist?

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  5. Simply agreeing with the USA regime of the day is not the only way of playing it safe – ask the British soldiers who went to Iraq and the current US President who opposed US involvement.

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  6. Drakula saks “WILL KEY OUTLAW THE NZ COMMUNIST PARTY?”

    Silly question, unless the NZ Communist Party are deliberately trying to kill innocent people for political ends.

    However I’d agree that the likes of Israel, who may not set out to deliberately kill innocent people, but kills them instead by total disregard, is not really a lot different.

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  7. So terrorists don’t exist?
    There are certain people in this world that can’t be reasoned with, there is nothing reasonable about strapping bombs to yourself and walking into a big group of people.
    How can we possibly legitimise this sort of behaviour?

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  8. John Key included the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA in his list of terrorist organisations.

    There is peace in Northern Ireland because of the peace process. It has gotten the two previously implacable foes together to share power. (A bit like Act and the Greens forming an eternal Government). The peace process required people to hand over their guns. The only way the remaining IRA units will negotiate would be the unconditional surrender and withdrawal of the British. This would lead to a violent civil war in the north of Ireland.

    The IRA are still out to kill people and need to be stopped. Contiuing to recognize them as non terrorists, would only hurt the peace process.

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  9. John Key obviously doesn’t like the idea of New Zealand having it’s own diplomatic agenda. He is a follower when it comes to climate change and a follower with international politics. What is his criteria for labeling groups as terrorist organizations? Hamas were democratically elected and communist parties are generally not terrorist cells.

    France has posed the greatest threat to us in the past with its terrorist attack on the Rainbow Warrior and the United States has a history of invading other countries without the sanction of the United Nations. Countries that have recently been responsible for the greatest number of civilian deaths would have to be the US and Israel, and China still has a shocking record for human rights and its illegal invasion of Tibet. What is considered a fair and reasonable protection of interests and defense of the persecuted by one group can be regarded as terrorism by another.

    Terry Waite was imprisoned for several years by supposed terrorists, yet he blames politics and international inequalities rather than terrorism for his suffering. He has described how terrorist groups are born out of desperation and a loss of hope using peaceful means. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Waite

    Rather than a “war” on terrorism why not a war on persecution, inequality and the refusal to recognize basic human rights.

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  10. sprout – so you want to put the US, China, France and Israel on the terror list, stop trading with them, and trade with Hamas, IRA, and ETA instead?

    I think we need to try to get all countries / groups to behave better, and outlaw any country / group that deliberately kills innocent people as a way of advancing their political aims.

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  11. “I think we need to try to get all countries / groups to behave better, and outlaw any country / group that deliberately kills innocent people as a way of advancing their political aims”.

    Photo. Not really practical to outlaw the USA.

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  12. Brendan, maybe all the British need to do is declare a means for Ulster to become part of Eire when the majority of the local people want this? One means is to give the people of Ulster a choice of passport – Irish or British and when the majority hold Irish ones to make the change. All that is then needed is an agreement to transfer the current local arrangments with that change (allowing the residual unionist group to continue to have British passports while a continuing part of Ulster politics and living within greater Ireland.

    With the way the EU operates and people live and work where they want this should be no great problem.

    With a resolution process to realise the end game (via democratic choice)the remaining combatants have cause to end allegiance to an armed struggle.

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  13. Photonz1-You seriously misrepresent me, read my comment again! I was questioning the criteria used by John Key to define a terrorist group and suggesting that it may not be consistently applied. I agree with your second sentence but would also suggest that persecution doesn’t always involve killing. Many groups resort to terrorism when they lose democratic rights and are persecuted and marginalized by many other means. Israelis building illegally on Palestinian territory is an aggressive act for example.

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  14. So is confining Israeli Arab villages to their 1948 areas and defining the rest of the land as land for Jews. From the same people the statement that “Jewish settlements on the West Bank need to grow to survive” is indicative the intent of their domestic policy within Israeli.

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  15. sprout – it was a question. I didn’t assert it was your position.

    The criteria used by Key was groups who have carried our indiscriminate terror attacks on civilians.

    Groups may have a legitimate grievance, but that doesn’t mean deliberately killing random innocent people is legitimate, or even a “defense” or “protection of interests”.

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  16. “The criteria used by Key was groups who have carried our indiscriminate terror attacks on civilians.”

    A google search for “US attacks on civilians” got over 7 million responses, here are a few that were listed:

    air attack on civilians and children Video
    Unauthorized US attack kills 5 Pakistanis‎
    Attacks kill 10 civilians in Afghanistan‎
    PressTV – US-led attacks kill Afghan civilians
    Pakistan: Over 700 Civilians Killed in US Drone Strikes
    Iraqi family seek justice over US attack on civilians …
    International News | US killed civilians in Yemen attack
    Civilians Killed In US Drone Attack Near Pak-Afghan Border
    YouTube – us attack yemenite civilians.avi
    Korean War Panel Finds 138 Instances of U.S. Attacks on Civilians

    It certainly appears that the world’s civilians should have a greater fear of the US than any other country. We may not see the US as terrorists but as far as I can tell the US isn’t at war with Pakistan or Yemen so what is their jurisdiction in these cases?

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  17. Sprout. You forgot Indonesia, Chile and the Philippines. Among others.

    http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partid=551

    “Obama is planning a “rollback” of the independence and democracy that the people of Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Paraguay have achieved against the odds, along with a historic regional co-operation that rejects the notion of a US “sphere of influence”. The Colombian regime, which backs death squads and has the continent’s worst human rights record, has received US military support second in scale only to Israel. Britain provides military training. Guided by US military satellites, Colombian paramilitaries now infiltrate Venezuela with the goal of overthrowing the democratic government of Hugo Chávez, which George W Bush failed to do in 2002.”

    This is the regime our Government support.

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  18. Kerry-I was just referring to recent evidence of civilian attacks. Niall Ferguson’s book “Colossus” describes the US as an Empire and has has ample evidence to support this and what you have have quoted from Pilger just reflects what is standard practice to control those who threaten US dominance. Even Saddam Hussein gained power through US support, they don’t care about the legitimacy to govern just their allegiance to US supremacy.

    It is interesting how Photonz1 supports the Key’s assertion that Philippine’s Communists are an international threat when they haven’t fired a shot in anger outside their own country and the US has slaughtered 700 Pakistani civilians who thought the US was an ally.

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  19. sprout says “It certainly appears that the world’s civilians should have a greater fear of the US than any other country. ”

    As long as you don’t want to count the likes of three million dead Congolese civilians. Maybe they don’t count cause they’re African.

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  20. sprout says “It is interesting how Photonz1 supports the Key’s assertion that Philippine’s Communists are an international threat when they haven’t fired a shot in anger outside their own country ”

    Oh – so terrorists are fine as long as they are killing some foreign people we don’t care about.

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  21. I saw a News Report recently convicting Israeli Defense Soldiers of using Palestinian Children as human shields during the Gaza massacre.
    Lists of Terrorists mmm?
    Who ‘we care about’ may well be a matter of individual choice.
    Personally I don’t find the Name, Blame, Shame Game to be a helpful reference point as any research tends to suggest I’m reading Gossip and Hearsay motivated by the all-pervasive CYA attitude so fashionable just now.

    Meanwhile, the lists of civilian deaths and US military suicides from Iraq/Afghanistan grow longer every day – report after sorry report – it really gets a bit much to stomach – and our good old msm couldn’t care much less.

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  22. “Oh – so terrorists are fine as long as they are killing some foreign people we don’t care about.”
    “As long as you don’t want to count the likes of three million dead Congolese civilians. Maybe they don’t count cause they’re African.”
    No Phtonz1! If the Government has criteria for determining terrorism it shouldn’t exclude those of particular races or political persuasions. It would be better not to label terrorists and inflame conflicts but deal with the causes of terrorist activity.

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  23. sprout – better to deal with the causes AND try to curb the killing rather than deal with the causes but let the funding for terrorism continue unabated.

    Considering that stopping terrorist funding has been a highly successful way of stopping innocent people around the world from being killed, it’s surprising that you want terrorist funding channels legalised and opened up again.

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  24. Zedd notes:

    More proof that Aotearoa/NZ is still attached to Britain & USA ‘apron strings’.

    Not by apron strings; by agreement, what was called the UKUSA arrangement, of which we are part.

    While we are an ongoing part of that arrangement (which includes the Waihopai base) then our government (of whatever makeup) are not going to deviate far from the consensus view.

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  25. Photonz1-Lebenon was largely destroyed by the US supported Israeli’s, Iraq has stepped in and spent much in aid and supporting the rebuilding of the demolished infrastructure. The US, according to Niall Fergusson has focused more on military activity than aid “The decline in America’s foreign aid budget-from its peak in the years after the Second World War, when it averaged close to 1.8 % of US GNP, to its present level of barely 0.2% is the result of many years of cheeseparing by American legislators.”

    The US spends huge amounts destroying infrastructure and killing private citizens and does little to repair the damage they cause, is it little wonder that the Iraq supported Hizbollah see the US and its allies as the enemy. Stopping “funding for terrorism” is a farcical approach, the background of many terrorists is one of desperation and poverty and their response to the huge and sophisticated Israeli and US military is through suicide bombers and homemade rockets. Why not address the causes of their anger; poverty, discrimination and persecution, because that is what really fuels terrorism!

    Photonz1, I think you also believe in funding the police force above teachers as a sensible priority, your views have a certain consistency.

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  26. sprout says “the background of many terrorists is one of desperation ”

    I agree, particularly in the case of Israel”

    sprout says “Photonz1, I think you also believe in funding the police force above teachers as a sensible priority, ”

    If that’s your belief, then you are jumping to conclusions of your biased stereotype. Have I actually said that anywwhere? Maybe I do, maybe I don’t.

    The point is, YOU have decided what my position is, and criticised me for it, before I have even decided, and stated it myself.

    Perhaps you should argue against what people actually say – real positions – not just with you own imagination.

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  27. “I think police deserve extra pay for really bad hours, having to take their holidays when their family doesn’t have them, and dealing with the worst of society on a daily basis.”
    Photonz1-and I think your main reason for police deserving more pay was because they get shot at and teachers don’t.
    I did reflect what you have clearly stated.

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