Nicholas Jones at NZ Herald reports:
A film-maker who made inflammatory comments about a dead soldier has slammed the Defence Force and police for the response to subsequent threats against her.
But last night, both organisations disputed Barbara Sumner Burstyn’s version of events and expressed disappointment over her attack.
What I detest about this, is Burstyn is trying to make this all about her. Now she is lying about the Police.
Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said police twice dispatched staff to check an address provided by Sumner Burstyn. Attempts were made to phone the house, and checks revealed nothing untoward.
Local police were notified and neighbours alerted so police could be quickly notified of suspicious activity.
Mr Burgess said Sumner Burstyn was advised to contact Canadian police because she had full and immediate access to the relevant information. That information was forwarded via Interpol and was being assessed by detectives, he said.
“Ms Sumner Burstyn has acknowledged that she made a major gaffe through her Facebook comments.
“It is disappointing that she now sees fit to comment adversely and inaccurately on the organisation which responded properly to her concerns,” he said.
For an excellent take on this whole issue, I recommend Chris Trotter who noted:
In an extraordinary outburst on Facebook, the New Zealand film-maker, Barbara Sumner-Burstyn, delivered the following, scathing, “testimonial” to Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, the young New Zealand soldier killed in action in Afghanistan on August 19: ‘Oh, so fallen soldier Jacinda Baker liked boxing and baking – did they forget she also liked invading countries we are not at war with, killing innocent people and had no moral compass. She 100 per cent does not deserve our respect for her flawed choices. We are not at war. We are helping America invade another country for their oil. No more than that.’
It is difficult to know where to begin with this thoroughly obnoxious piece of writing.
Perhaps with Sumner-Burstyn’s simple errors of fact.
Corporal Baker did not invade Afghanistan, she was posted there as a serving member of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) which was in Afghanistan at the behest of the New Zealand Government, which had agreed to supply the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) with a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamiyan province.
The ISAF is in Afghanistan by virtue of a UN Security Council resolution authorising UN member states to aid the creation of an effective and democratic Afghan government.
Baker, far from ‘killing innocent people’ was a medic – duty-bound to assist all those wounded in combat or injured by enemy munitions – regardless of status or nationality.
When she was killed, Baker was escorting an injured comrade to medical assistance. It is extremely difficult to reconcile these facts with Sumner-Burstyn’s charge that Baker ‘had no moral compass’.
Sumner-Burstyn’s final claim: ‘We are helping America invade another country for their oil’ is similarly false.
Afghanistan possesses no oilfields worth expending US blood and treasure to secure.
The Americans are there for only one reason. Because the Taleban Government of Afghanistan had offered safe haven to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda: the terrorists ultimately responsible for the murderous attacks of September 11, 2001.
So well summed up.
Threatened with rape and murder, Sumner-Burstyn fears to return to New Zealand.
A recent photograph of Sumner-Burstyn shows a middle-aged woman posed in front of a large bookcase filled with academic literature.
Studying her face, and reading about her many awards for documentary film- making – many of them on ‘progressive’ themes – it is difficult to fathom how Sumner-Burstyn could be capable of such casual cruelty.
As a clearly gifted artist and feminist, it is extraordinary that she was so utterly unable to empathise with Baker – the first female member of her generation to lose her life on active service.
By the same token, it is profoundly depressing to read the spittle-flecked responses of her detractors.
Baker lost her life on a mission to rebuild and heal a damaged province in a ravaged land.
Her empathy merited a much more generous memorial.
It is a shame that a few people went over the top and made threats, which have no place in public discourse. They also are responsible for the debate shifting from the dead soldiers to Burstyn herself.
Personally I just never want to hear about the woman again.Tags: Barbara Sumner-Burstyn