Sunday, August 14, 2005

(Greens) Local refugee makes positive contribution

Local refugee makes positive contribution

"National's outrageous attack on refugees is designed to drive a wedge between New Zealand and the third world..." says Hutt South Green candidate Paul Bruce. "National Party’s new immigration policy to cut the annual quota of refugees allowed would lock in place the divide already existing between the west and undeveloped countries if it become the Government".

Speaking at a meeting of the Waiwhetu - Lower Hutt Peace Group, Mr Bruce
said that in a divided world, where a new round of resource wars is creating new
refugees, New Zealand must remain a good international citizen and accept
our share of the victims of these conflicts. The Green Party would extend our quota from 750 to 1000 per year, and this is still clearly inadequate when we consider that there are twenty million refugees in the world. It’s sad to see a major party beating up on some of the most vulnerable people in the world, people who have suffered so much in their home countries.

Mr Bruce, acknowledged Rolando Olmedo, one of a group of Chilean refugees,
who escaped a Chilean military dictatorship in 1975 to come to NZ.

"Rolando, like most other migrants, has ended up making an enormous contribution to our community, working tirelessly with people with special needs through the use of theatre and music. Mr Olmedo founded the Theatre company for the Deaf in Palmerston North, and continues his work here in the Hutt through the Community Arts and Training Centre and Incal Casa latina, which reminds us of how precious our democracy is."

The democratically elected Government of Chile was overthrown on September 11th 1973,
and for seventeen subsequent years, Washington supported the military dictatorship led by General August Pinochet, a specialist in assassinating, disappearing and torturing his opponents at home and abroad.

Mr Bruce also highlighted the experience of another refugee who had a rather different experience on his arrival here in NZ. Ahmed Zaoui was held in prison for two years after the Security Intelligence Service declared him a threat, but the SIS never produced any evidence to support their case. Ahmed, a former Algerian MP, and a campaigner for peace and reconciliation, has since been declared a genuine refugee by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority, but still awaited formal recognition of his status and the arrival of his family.

Paul Bruce, said that the Green Party was committed to giving more assistance to migrants and refugees, helping them with access to jobs, housing, education and health services.
Mr Bruce concluded "We stand for a tolerant, diverse society, where everyone gets a fair go".