The Human Rights Foundation of Aotearoa New Zealand says the withdrawal of the villagers of Naik and Khak Khudday Dad from the Operation Burnham Inquiry is a sad indictment of the way the Inquiry has been conducted. The lawyers for the villages announced the withdrawal this morning and the Human Rights Foundation has decided to establish a givealittle page to support the villagers’ needs, including finding suitable housing (they have had to abandon their villages), for their health and for the education of their children
Chairperson Peter Hosking says the villagers have completely lost faith in the New Zealand authorities. The Inquiry, which has operated largely in secret, exhibited little understanding of their situation or their need to continue uninterrupted in their work, as well as the difficulties in communicating with the Inquiry especially over a long drawn-out period without any result. The final straw was a minute (statement) by the Inquiry in late April 2019 that it was not necessary for the Inquiry to hear the villagers’ direct accounts of what happened in view of the difficulties for the Inquiry of gathering their evidence first hand. The Inquiry has now reconsidered that issue, but this is obviously too little too late.
Peter Hosking says that it is not for next of kin and family of the villagers who died to beg for New Zealand justice and the right to be heard. NZ has human rights obligations to citizens harmed by our military during armed conflict. Their situation ought to have been at the heart of the Inquiry. However, the Inquiry’s convoluted and drawn out processes have exhausted the villagers. They have lost faith that NZ cares about what happened to them or is interested in ensuring that they receive justice, let alone reparations for the loss and damage they suffered.
The Human Rights Foundation says the givealittle page is to ensure that the villagers receive some assistance from New Zealanders, whatever the outcome of the government Inquiry.