ANZAC Day peace vigil: Respect for the fallen or freedom of speech?


On Anzac Day a group small elderly Whanganui women took part in a peace vigil.

They were Quakers, members of the Religious Society of Friends, who strive to “bring about God’s will without the use of force or violence.”

Quakers refuse to take part in war and preparation for war; and oppose the culture of militarism.

“I was glad to be among this dignified gathering,” says Rachel Rose in her opinion piece in the Wanganui Chronicle.

“As I looked at the backs of their white or grey heads, I reflected how these gentle and determined women had doubtless been advocating for peace and social justice for longer than I’ve been alive.”

The Quaker’s protest did not get the same media coverage as the one staged in Wellington by Ellie Clayton and Laura Drew from Peace Action Wellington.

They were confronted by  12-year-old Jason Broome-Isa who told them it was appropriate to protest on  ANZAC day.

A poll on The AM Show showed two thirds of those who responded (67 percent) agreed with Jason, and believe protesting on Anzac Day is inappropriate.

But Rose says she  was saddened to read some rather strident denunciation of the Quakers who had made white poppies available and organised the peace vigil.

“The organisers took great care to not set up their activities in opposition to anyone. Their freedom to express their heartfelt beliefs should be respected.”

Only one media organisation pointed out that an extract read out at the the National Commemoration Service by the prime minister Bill English was written  Ormond Edward Burton.

Burton was a christian pacifist who was jailed for his beliefs.

The day after the Second World War was declared, Burton condemned it before a crowd outside Parliament.

In her piece Rose acknowledged the gratitude she has for the help the Wanganui Quakers showed her when she was in a time of need.


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News category: New Zealand.

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