New Zealand: Images And Reality
By Ghali Hassan, Countercurrents.org
10 March, 2007
New Zealand prides itself on human rights, social compassion and political “neutrality”. Moreover, New Zealanders pride themselves on being “peace loving” people. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. These images are a distortion of reality. New Zealand is a fully-fledged member of America’s war on Muslims.
I recently spent sometime in New Zealand. As an Australian citizen, I do not need visa to enter or work in New Zealand. However, on my arrival from Melbourne at Wellington Airport, I was singled-out for “questioning” and thorough search. I was told; “it is our policy to identify and question particular passengers”. After a lengthy argument, I was allowed to leave the Airport. Outside the Airport, an Australian passenger said to me; “it has nothing to do with you being Australian or not. Are you a Muslim”? To be plain honest, I never expected this to happen to me in New Zealand.
In Christchurch, I was abused by another proud New Zealander who questioned me if I was “carrying a bomb in my backpack”. He soon learned that those like him are the real terrorists masquerading as crusaders of “democracy” and “freedom”. In the same ‘English’ town, a Saudi man was removed from his accommodation at the YMCA – the Christian Association Hostel – because one resident complained that the Saudi man was “praying in his room”. He was forced to pay for the day he was thrown-out on the street.
Meanwhile, New Zealand is well-known destination for Israeli soldiers “recuperating” from their roles enforcing the occupation of Palestinian land. Most of them have Palestinian blood on their hands. Nonetheless, they are treated like most Europeans. They were issued with “working-holiday” visas to “work and relax” and start “new life”. New Zealand can show great compassion if it starts bringing traumatised Palestinian children to recuperate from Israel’s daily terror.
It surprises me that New Zealand daily newspapers are addicted to stories of anti-Muslims false stereotypes and ignorance – adopted from Islamophobia’s mouthpiece, The Times – designed to promote racism against Muslims. Scapegoating of Muslims has become a lucrative career in the “West”. Fascist politicians, academics, pundits and journalists are attacking Muslims in order to further their own careers and positions.
Furthermore, New Zealand foreign minister Winston Peters – the Australian Pauline Hanson – of the New Zealand First Party has benefited immensely from his anti-Muslims and anti-immigrants racism. Peters was appointed foreign minister in a deal between Helen Clark’s Labour Government and New Zealand First. Like his Australian counterpart, Peters has become an official propaganda mouthpiece for American violence and terrorism.
Moreover, New Zealand army is now part of America’s war on Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Iraq, the New Zealand Government was happy to have its forces under the British command during the early stages of the illegal aggression and Occupation of Iraq. Currently New Zealand soldiers are embedded with the so-called “UN-Fijian” forces to disguise their nationality and keep New Zealand “neutral”. Despite the enormity of the war crimes committed by U.S forces and their collaborators against the Iraqi people, New Zealand and Australia continue to support the murderous Occupation against the wishes of the vast majority of the Iraqi people.
Together with Australia, New Zealand forms the axis of “Deputy Sheriff” in the Pacific, performing the role of proxy colonial gendarmes bullying and intimidating the smaller and defenceless Pacific Island nations. Without any compassion, they are exploiting the Islands national resource at the expense of the indigenous population and the environment. In addition, the Island nations are locked into a dependency on Australia and New Zealand leaving them at the mercy of Australia and New Zealand.
Many people liken New Zealand to Australia. Although John Howard’s right-wing and divisive Government has very little resemblance in New Zealand, Australia and New Zealand are not dissimilar in political corruption, their unfair and inhumane treatments of the indigenous inhabitants and ethnic minorities, and their complicity in the Anglo-American imperialist war crimes. However, unlike New Zealand, Australia is a diverse society with a distinct national identity and cultural achievements that make many “Australians” proud. In Australia – despite John Howard’s attempts to roll-back hard fought anti-racist gains –, there is a sense of community. New Zealand is like a multi-national corporation without a sense of community. The experiment with Globalisation (Americanisation) turned New Zealand into a heavily foreign-owned country without national identity characterised by faster growth of inequality.
Jane Kelsey, a professor of Law at the University of Auckland called New Zealand; “the New Right [neo-liberalism] of the World”, where the minority rich got very richer and the poor are unable to feed their children, sending them to school hungry every day. According to recent report (Overview of Child Well-being in Rich Countries) by UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)-Innocenti Research Centre, New Zealand ranked in the bottom of 24 countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in terms of health and safety, education (worst ranking), teenage pregnancies and peer and family relationships. The Report was instantly ignored by the New Zealand Government.
As a result of Government’s secrecy and media disinformation, New Zealanders know very little about their country “politics”. They are completely manipulated and diverted by the media daily diet of crimes, celebrity and sport news. Few New Zealanders care about the direction their country is taking.
It is evident that New Zealand’s images of social compassion and respect for human rights are a distortion of reality. New Zealand support for America’s murderous Occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan shows that New Zealand is devoid of neutrality. It is time that New Zealanders awake to reality stop living in ignorance and change direction.
Ghali Hassan lives in Australia.
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