INDEPENDENT NEWS

Peck will proceed with pardons bill

Published: Fri 15 Oct 1999 11:36 AM
Invercargill MP Mark Peck vowed today to continue his campaign to obtain pardons for New Zealand soldiers who were executed by firing squad during WW1 for mutiny and desertion.
"I have read carefully the report from Sir Edward Somers and I respect his work.
"Essentially his report proves the allegations in the explanatory note of my bill. Therefore what is to be done becomes a judgement call. Sir Edward suggests that the Government may want to make a statement similar to that which the British Government made some considerable time ago. Essentially saying sorry.
"Well, if you have to say sorry, you did something wrong.
"Parliament must not flinch in putting right this injustice. Does it no longer matter simply because these soldiers have been dead for eighty years? Do we not have an obligation to lift the burden of shame off the families who survive these poor dead soldiers?
"In his report Somers says:
"It is likely that each of the soldiers was suffering from shell shock or other
stress related disorder as now understood."
"He comments on each of the soldiers in turn using terms like:
"…not mentally fit to fight." (Pvt Hughes), "…he suffered from some type of trauma." (Pvt Sweeney,) "…Viewed now what he did seems trivial…" (Pvt Brathwaite), "…in short he had exhausted his ability to continue to fight." (Pvt King), "…he had at least reached the point at which he could soldier no longer." (Pvt Spencer)
"We must recognise that these were unquestionably men of bravery and courage. They were themselves the victims of war.. Surely we must now recognise their sacrifices," said Mark Peck

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