On Waitangi Day the Prime Minister criticised the “left” of politics as not wanting to do anything about ISIS and went on to say:
“New Zealand is not going to turn the other way. We’re actually going to stand up for human rights, and we’re not going to do silly things, but we may join 60 or so other countries around the world trying to protect people who can’t protect themselves.”
“(We have) no intention of going to fight other people’s wars but I’m not going to turn the other way when people are being persecuted and say as a leader it’s other people’s problems. I don’t think that’s the New Zealand way.”
On the one hand it’s all part of John Key’s campaign to soften us up for New Zealand troops to join the US-led crusade against ISIS early this year.
On the other hand it’s a shameful piece of hypocrisy.
New Zealand involvement in any fight against ISIS has nothing to do with upholding human rights. It’s better described as Key did a couple of weeks back as the price he is prepared to pay to be part of the five eyes “club”.
Since when has Key ever expressed support for human rights anywhere else?
What about the on-going human rights abuses by Indonesian forces against the people of West Papua? And this right on our doorstep! Key has not only been silent on the West Papuan plight under a brutal military occupation but he has been delighted to wine and dine with their killers.
Because Indonesia is a US ally Key refuses to condemn their human rights abuses.
And what about Sri Lanka? John Key was unmoved by the murder of 70,000 innocent Tamil civilians by the Sri Lankan armed forces under Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2009. When visiting Sri Lanka in 2013 for CHOGM (the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) Key greeted Rajapaksa warmly, refusing to criticise him or his army’s massacres and even refusing to endorse a United Nations investigation into war crimes committed by Sri Lankan forces. When asked about a UN investigation all Key could say was “I don’t know what that would achieve”.
Again because Sri Lanka is a US ally Key turns a blind eye to their human rights abuses.
However Key is now arguing that the “New Zealand way” is to stand up against human rights abuses. If this were the new yardstick by which New Zealand governments will speak out internationally then it would be applauded.
It’s unacceptable to speak out against human rights abuses by ISIS simply because it is an enemy of the US and ignore human rights abuses by US allies much closer to home.
New Zealand has no role sending troops to fight ISIS but we have a crucial role speaking out against human rights abuses everywhere.