Has the leadership failed minorities?

As you prepare for your Party’s Conference (held on October 16 & 17), we wish to convey to you and your Party’s Executive Council the deep sense of hurt, pain, outrage and injustice felt by a cross-section of our Indian community following the recent comments of Paul Henry and Michael Laws.

The offence and outrage was exacerbated by the failure of both the Government and the Parliament to address and debate the issue with the required urgency and seriousness. Our community is entitled to the same defense and protection from unwarranted racial attacks as any other citizen of New Zealand.

That the government has done nothing has heightened the anxiety amongst out people.

We believe that the matter was of sufficient national importance for you to petition the Speaker of the House to allow a special debate in Parliament.

Many in our community are dismayed that you chose not to do so.

A coordinated, multiparty, unanimous House censure and condemnation would have been the minimum expected from a representative of the people. A Nation’s Parliament exists to protect the rights and interests of its multicultural and multi ethnic peoples.

The National Government is still in denial regarding the damage to race and diplomatic relations with India despite the unease expressed by its High Commissioner Retired Admiral Sureesh Mehta, as was widely reported in the media.

Prime Minister John Key’s continued refusal to accept that and masquerade as the chief apologist of Paul Henry smacks of political naivety and insensitivity to the feelings of our community.

Although the attacks were personalised against the Governor General Sir Anand, every member of our community now feels that our fundamental rights, dignity and quality of citizenship are under attack.

Our Bill of Rights covenants (Sections 19 & 20) expressly provide for the protection of minority rights including the right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of inter alia race, ethnicity and national origins.

Those covenants have been violated as much by the inaction and silence of the Government, Parliament and the state broadcaster TVNZ as the racial attacks of Paul Henry and Michael Laws.

Our community requests you to raise this matter in Parliament during the next sitting and seek appropriate reassurance that every member of our society will enjoy equality of citizenship and that their rights and dignity shall not be impeded.

Editor’s Note: Nitya Reddy and Ali Aiyub Husain (Former Members of Fijian Parliament) live in Auckland. The above letter, sent to us on October 15, 2010, was addressed to Opposition Leader Phil Goff, calling on him to take up the issue at the Labour Party Conference held in Auckland on AOctober 16 & 17. The letter may be now be dated, for the developments that have occurred since may negate some of its contents. Nonetheless, it has been reproduced here without prejudice or allegiance to their cause. Leaders of Labour and National are welcome to react to editor@indiannewslink.co.nz

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