Protest sends mes­sage

Liz Rem­mer­swaal from World Be­yond War Aotearoa New Zealand or­gan­ised a Can­cel Rim­pac peace gath­er­ing at Hau­moana Do­main re­cently. Re­porter caught up with Liz to find out more about the event and why it was held.

Napier Courier - - Front Page - Brenda Vow­den

What is RIM­PAC and how long has NZ par­tic­i­pated in it?

RIM­PAC is a war-train­ing ex­er­cise led by the US Navy based in Pearl Har­bour, Hawaii. It hap­pens ev­ery two years. It in­cludes 26 coun­tries, about 25,000 troops and myr­iad weaponry. New Zealand re­sumed par­tic­i­pa­tion in 2012.

Have you held other peace gath­er­ings be­fore?

We gath­ered in 2017 for Hiroshima Day in con­junc­tion with the Napier Cathe­dral’s En­vi­ron­ment Jus­tice and Peace group, whose mem­bers were part of cre­at­ing Napier as a Nu­clear Free City in the 1980s. We are now plan­ning a gath­er­ing on Sunday, Au­gust 9, to mark the 75th an­niver­sary of the first drop­ping of nu­clear bombs. We have also held sev­eral potluck func­tions at peo­ple’s homes, in­clud­ing one with kuia Pauline Tan­giora of WILPF (Women’s In­ter­na­tional League for Peace and Free­dom), and shown sev­eral peace films.

How long has World Be­yond War Aotearoa New Zealand been go­ing?

I started co-or­di­nat­ing the group here al­most three years ago. I am also on the in­ter­na­tional board of WBW and a con­vener of the Pa­cific Peace Net­work, and have at­tended con­fer­ences in Toronto, Alice Springs, Dar­win, Prague, and Ire­land, where I have met some won­der­ful in­ter­na­tional peace ac­tivists who I work with now. Pretty early in the piece I was lucky to win the Sonja Davies Peace Award which gave me fund­ing to study Peace Lit­er­acy in the US, which was when I was asked to head up WBW in NZ.

How many peo­ple turned up at the gath­er­ing?

It was rain­ing cats and dogs on the day so we aban­doned our plans to go on the beach and met in­stead at Matt’s cafe in Hau­moana. In the end there were about a dozen of us.

Who par­tic­i­pated in the we­bi­nar which you hosted?

Peo­ple from all over the world in­clud­ing the United States, Hawaii, Gua­han/Guam, Aus­tralia, Philip­pines and Aotearoa.

Why is it im­por­tant to keep the pres­sure on the gov­ern­ments to pull out of RIM­PAC?

First be­cause of the global risk of Covid-19, as land-based ac­tiv­i­ties are still needed. Se­condly, be­cause it’s dan­ger­ous to be in such a close al­liance and at the beck and call of Don­ald Trump and his war­mon­ger­ing col­leagues. An­other as­pect is that many sol­diers re­turn home with PTSD and there is not enough good treat­ment for them out there. At the same time we have an in­quiry go­ing on into the NZDF’s ac­tions in Afghanista­n.

How many coun­tries are still par­tic­i­pat­ing and how many have pulled out?

Is­rael and Chile have pulled out due to con­cerns re Covid, with so far 24 coun­tries re­main­ing, to be con­firmed.

Why should NZ dis­tance it­self from RIM­PAC?

We need to re­de­fine se­cu­rity, NZ has no en­e­mies and the well­be­ing of our Pa­cific neigh­bours should be our first con­cern.

Can you com­ment on this de­scrip­tion of RIM­PAC from the web­site? “RIM­PAC pro­vides a unique train­ing op­por­tu­nity that helps par­tic­i­pants foster and sus­tain co­op­er­a­tive re­la­tion­ships that are crit­i­cal to en­sur­ing the safety of sea lanes and se­cu­rity on the world’s oceans.”

For decades New Zealand gov­ern­ments have said there is no di­rect mil­i­tary threat to this coun­try nor are our armed forces large enough to de­ter any mil­i­tary ag­gres­sion. There­fore we need to re­frame how we view “se­cu­rity”, away from out­dated nar­row mil­i­tary se­cu­rity con­cepts, and to tran­si­tion away from main­tain­ing com­bat-ready armed forces to civil­ian agen­cies that meet the wider se­cu­rity needs of all New Zealan­ders and our Pa­cific neigh­bours.

Fish­eries and re­source pro­tec­tion, bor­der con­trol, and mar­itime search and rescue could be bet­ter done by a civil­ian coast­guard with in­shore and off­shore ca­pa­bil­i­ties, equipped with a range of ve­hi­cles, ves­sels and air­craft that are suit­able for our coast­line, Antarc­tica and the Pa­cific.

How would you de­scribe the peace gath­er­ing?

It’s al­ways bliss­ful to be around peace peo­ple who care much about cre­at­ing a peace­ful and just world as I do!

For more in­for­ma­tion contact Liz on 027 333 1055 or liz@world­be­yond­war.org

Liz Rem­mer­swaal is a for­mer Hawke’s Bay Re­gional coun­cil­lor 2007-2013, and co-founder of Bay­watch En­vi­ron­ment Group and Cape Kid­nap­pers Pro­tec­tion So­ci­ety, and lives in Hau­moana.

Liz Rem­mer­swaal from World Be­yond War Aotearoa New Zealand

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