Three New Zealand MPs have taken pledge to form new parliamentary Palestine friendship group and to “raise the voices of Palestinian people in New Zealand's parliament,” news agencies reported on Tuesday.
According to the news agencies, the three MPs made their pledge at an event organised by Wellington Palestine to mark International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Over 100 New Zealanders including Golriz Ghahraman, MP (Green Party), Teanau Tuiono, MP (Green Party) and Ibrahim Omer, MP (Labour Party), attended the event.
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,” the Ghahraman said. “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.”
She added: “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 maiming. It is the deprivation of Palestinians from all of their other inalienable rights.”
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.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
She concluded: “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.”
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