An open letter to the political leaders of Aotearoa New Zealand

The Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand (SAANZ), as a community of academics, social researchers, public and private sector workers and students, call on Aotearoa New Zealand’s political leaders to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and work towards lasting peace in the region.

As a discipline, we are concerned with inequality, injustice, and the impacts of settler-colonialism. A genuine path to peace has to address the social, economic and political factors that foster violence. The most recent escalation of violence in Gaza therefore needs to be understood in terms of an ongoing apartheid system that has involved decades of oppression against Palestinian people, dispossession of their lands and ongoing deprivation.

What is occurring in Gaza is a genocide, one that is supported and aided by the world’s most powerful nations and militaries. Framing the situation as one of ‘conflict’ and/or ‘self-defence’ obscures the context of Israel’s violent occupation of Palestine and even legitimises the routine breaking of international law. We ask that the leaders of Aotearoa New Zealand show a genuine commitment to peace in the region by respecting the rights to dignity and self-determination for Palestinian people and working towards the end of Israeli occupation. We also demand that the leaders of New Zealand clearly condemn war crimes against civilians in Gaza and the West Bank.

As a discipline, we stand in solidarity with organisations, community groups, and individuals who have called for an immediate ceasefire and a commitment to the liberation of the Palestinian people. Our commitment to our discipline demands that we take a stand.