Zealand: Images And Reality
By Ghali Hassan
10 March, 2007
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
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.