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Peace groups at Anzac events to remember civilian deaths

News from Peace Action Wellington
Peace Action Wellington and friends will join Anzac day events in
Wellington to remember civilian casualties of war. We will call for an
end to war, and will honour all civilian casualties with a respectful
presence at the dawn service at Pukeahu and at the Wellington Citizens’
Wreath-laying Service at the Cenotaph at 9am.

“We will be laying a wreath for civilian casualties of war because all
loss of life in war is abhorrent,” said spokesperson Laura Drew. Peace
Action Wellington will be laying a wreath alongside other peace groups
who will be laying wreaths for conscientious objectors, the Afghan
people killed in Operation Burnham, and the people killed by ANZAC
soldiers in the Surafend Massacre in Palestine, 1918.

“In the past four years we have seen an increasing obsession with Anzac
day. This came to a head around the First World War centenary. Anzacs
continue to be heavily romanticised as heroes and the protagonists of
the historical New Zealand war narrative. However, selective
commemoration can alter our view of history, and whose lives we deem to
be important. On this day of remembrance it’s important we remember all
aspects of war, including the civilian casualties and those that opposed
it”, said spokesperson Alex Davies.

“We cannot separate commemorations of the past from the contemporary
wars we participate in. Anzac day is a day to remember and reflect, we
should be able to think critically and question how as a country we can
be actively working towards peace.”

The government has finally begun an inquiry into the SAS lead Operation
Burnham in Afghanistan and commemorations of the New Zealand Land Wars,
both of which have only happened because citizens have stood up and
requested it. Peace Action Wellington hopes that this reflection means
we can move forward and actively work towards full demilitarisation.

“When we lay our wreath we will also be remembering the more than
100,000 civilians that have died in Syria. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
misspoke when she said that New Zealand ‘accepted’ the bombing of Syria
by the US, UK and France. Many New Zealanders would prefer that our
country took a stand for peace and led the way on international
demilitarisation and non-violent diplomacy”, Davies said.

During her first foreign policy speech in February, Ardern said
that New Zealand “must recommit ourselves to the cause of
non-proliferation and disarmament, and to the norms and rules which
support those endeavours.” Actions speak louder than words, however.
Peace Action Wellington calls on our government to end all New Zealand
support and involvement in foreign conflicts including Afghanistan.

“When we say ‘Never again’, we should mean it.”, said Drew.