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Sharples: No Nation Has Monopoly On Fighting Terror

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

13 September 2008 - Every nation should examine its role in the so-called 'War on Terror', and the Minister of Defence should consult tangata whenua on overseas deployments to fight terrorism, says Maori Party co-leader Dr Pita Sharples.

"What you call 'terrorism' all depends on who you are, and where you stand," said Dr Sharples. "That was the point legendary Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk was making this week about the NZ SAS in Afghanistan, which Phil Goff disputed.

"The United States is the world leader in the so-called War on Terror. But in Cuba, for example, 9/11 is the day the people remember the Cuban Five. Those five men have been imprisoned in the United States for ten years for trying to stop terrorist attacks on their homeland that are launched from the United States," he said.

"I am delighted to support the establishment of a NZ committee for the release of the five Cuban patriots announced yesterday" said Dr Sharples. "They can certainly include my name on their list"

"The alleged crime of the Cuban Five was to try to infiltrate the expatriate groups of anti-Castro Cubans in Miami, who had been organising and carrying out terrorist raids against Cuba for many years, while the US ignored the protests of the Cuban government.

"They were arrested in 1998 and charged with conspiracy - they replied that they were defending Cuba from terrorist attacks. After a long trial, which was judged unfair by a United Nations working group, in 2001 the five were convicted and sentenced to terms ranging from fifteen years to life, in separate prisons.

"In 2005 a US Appellate Court threw out the convictions on the basis of their unfair trial, but the US government has appealed that decision, and the five remain in prison while the justice system drags on - ten years and counting," said Dr Sharples.

"Meanwhile the US has refused to extradite to Cuba the man accused of bombing a Cuban airliner, and killing all 73 people on board.

"What you call terrorism, all depends on who you are and where you stand. It reminds me of a poster I saw, an old photo of four Apache rangatira - Geronimo, Yahnoozha, Chappo and Fun - in the desert, all armed with muskets and rifles.

The caption reads: "HOMELAND SECURITY - Fighting terrorism since 1492". The photo makes it absolutely clear who they are, and where they stand - they are no ordinary US citizens, they are tangata whenua.

"But when our New Zealand SAS troops confronted their enemy in Afghanistan, it was not clear to me who was maintaining homeland security, and who was fighting terrorism," said Dr Sharples.

"The Defence Minister needs to consult tangata whenua on these issues before New Zealand troops are deployed overseas to fight terrorism. Our tikanga could offer some sound guidance to the nation."

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