At an event to mark International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people three New Zealand MPs took a pledge to form a new parliamentary Palestine friendship group and to “…raise the voices of Palestinian people in New Zealand’s parliament”.
The event, organized by Wellington Palestine, was attended by over 100 New Zealanders including Golriz Ghahraman, MP (Green Party), Teanau Tuiono, MP (Green Party), and Ibrahim Omer, MP (Labour Party). In a speech to open the event Ghahraman – an Iranian-born refugee and former human rights lawyer – insisted that New Zealand must divest from companies that were complicit in crimes against international law.
“We do have to divest from investing in the occupied territories. We do have to stop trade with any company – not just Israel – any multinational corporation that’s profiting from the occupation of Palestine. Because crimes are being committed there. Because it isn’t just about land. We know – the United Nations tells us constantly – that forcible movement of people means that a whole range of international crimes are being committed. It is mass killings. It is mass maimings. It is the deprivation of Palestinians from all of their other inalienable rights.” said Ghahraman.
— Wellington Palestine (@WellPalestine) December 6, 2020
All three of the MPs attending the event have credentials as champions of human rights. Tuiono and Omer are both new MPs, voted into power at New Zealand’s recent election. Tuiono has a history of campaigning for indigenous rights and Omer is an Eritrean refugee who spent many years working in UN refugee camps.
Ghahraman reminded the audience of New Zealand’s proud history of taking a stand for social justice. She said, “I know that we all ask ourselves – when we look at history and mass crimes in history – where would we be at that moment? What side would we stand for? Would we raise our voices? And New Zealand has before. We’ve stood against apartheid. We’ve stood for a nuclear-free Pacific. And today, on world solidarity with Palestine day, we know, all of us in this room, that we would be on the right side of history. So I want us all to pledge to keep standing on that right side. To keep seeking justice for Palestine. Not just kindness, not just words, but substantive justice and to keep demanding it from our politicians.”
To loud applause, Ghahraman concluded with her pledge for Palestine.
“So, I want to acknowledge that there are two other politicians in this room and to pledge our support. We will, this term, form a Parliamentary Palestine Friendship Group. That’s the only way, right? This is something that our country needs to regulate. There are mass crimes being committed in our name if we continue that trade and we, we three, and those who join, will continue to raise the voices of Palestinian people in New Zealand’s parliament with your support. So thank you and Kia Ora.”
– Neil Ballantyne is the Co-Convenor at Wellington Palestine. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.