Not Guilty! Court Case Over

The court case against fifteen peace activists arrested protesting the 2015 Weapons Conference finished today with the last activist with a trespass charge being found not guilty. Over the course of seven days in court fifteen charges of obstruction, trespass and disorderly behaviour were dismissed or found not guilty due to lack of evidence.

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This has been fifteen months of stress, both emotional and financial having these charges hanging over us. Many of the people arrested at the protest were not able to fight the charges because of study, work, travel and other commitments and were forced to take diversion or plead guilty. Those of us who could, choose to fight these charges because we believed we were within or legal rights to protest and were arrested at random to shut down the protest.

At this point we are relieved that no one has been found guilty and the court has vindicated our freedom to protest but it also feels like we have already been punished by the police, who have used these arrests, charges and lengthy court case to deter people from protesting.

Throughout this court case they have accused us of being a violent mob and of assaulting people without any evidence or charges relating to these claims. If anything the police were the violent mob at the protest and have left many people traumatised by their aggressive arrests of peaceful protestors.

The police sought a pre-emptive trespass order days before the protest began which was found to be without legal merit on the first day of the trial because the protest took place on public land. Their priority from the start was not to uphold public order but instead assist business people who profit from war rather than respect peoples right to protest. The real criminals were the companies inside the building busy making deals in weapons.

Recently released figures by The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) show that the global arms trade is at it’s highest volume since the Cold War so challenging the arms trade is as important now more than ever, this court case though taxing will not deter us from continuing to take a stand against the arms trade here in Aotearoa.

Thanks to everyone who has supported us during the arrests and court process. Whether it was a message of support, your presence at court, food or financial help every bit of support we have received has helped us fight these charges and win! Thank you!

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Week of Resistance/Court Solidarity

A Week of Ongoing Resistance & Solidarity! 13th-17th February

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In November 2015, 27 people were arrested for protesting peacefully outside the Weapons Conference in Wellington. 15 of us are still facing trial which will take place between the 13-17th February. Although this has been a stressful and lengthy process, the struggle against the arms trade continues, so this will be a Week of Ongoing Resistance. Join us! More details and updates on the whole week’s events will be on court updates page and our Facebook event here.

Kick off Court
Monday 13th Feb, 9am, Wellington District Court

Let’s kick off proceedings in style with a rally outside the entrance to Wellington District Court. Bring an anti-war or ‘Not Guilty’ sign!

Stop the Weapons Conference: petition delivery
Tuesday 14th Feb, 6pm, Parliament

Join us to deliver a petition calling for an end to the Weapons Conference. Signatures were gathered by both PAW & our sister organisation Auckland Peace Action & we’ll be handing this in to the government to tell them that arms dealers and weapons deals are not welcome in Aotearoa.

Vigil for Reza Barati – Refugees Welcome
Friday 17th Feb, 8am, Australian High Commission

Join Doing Our Bit & PAW for a vigil and sit-in outside the Australian High Commission. Reza Berati was escaping persecution from Iran. He was on a boat headed for Australia. Instead of seeing if he was really seeking protection, the Australian government locked him up on Manus Island. He was murdered there on February 17, 2014 because the Australian government would not protect his life. Come and show your solidarity and disgust at the Australian government’s treatment of refugees fleeing war. More information on the Facebook event here.

Solidarity Shared Kai
ALL WEEK: Monday 13th – Friday 17th, c. 1-2pm, Wellington District Court

Come and share kai at lunchtime if you’re in the city. Lunchtimes will be dictated by the court but are generally around 1-2pm. Feel free to bring along some snacks to share if you can (Vegan treats especially appreciated!).

Come to Court
ALL WEEK: Monday 13th – Friday 17th, c. 10am – 5pm

Feel free to come along to the Court itself! It may be boring at times but your presence will be much appreciated by the arrestees. Let’s pack out the courtroom! Please don’t actively protest during the court proceedings as this could affect the Judge’s decisions & drag all this shit out even longer. If you have volunteered and been confirmed as a witness, court rules say that you cannot see any other court proceedings before your testimony is heard. You can still come along to the court while it’s not in session though!

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The Best of 2016

2016 has been a busy year for Peace Action Wellington. Thanks to everyone who has joined in and supported us in the past twelve months. Here are some highlights.

In April we planted edible plants in public spaces to honour the lives of millions of Syrian women enduring siege, war, exile, dispossession and imprisonment, as well as those who have passed away.

Syrian solidarity action

Then we were delighted to discover that concerned citizens had returned the old Nuclear Free Wellington sign to its rightful place.

Sign reading

Later that month we sailed a cardboard boat into the Ministry of Defence to highlight the government’s invitation of US warships with potential nuclear armaments onboard to Aotearoa’s shores, as well as speaking out against military spending. Over zealous police arrested one protestor at the peaceful protest that lasted mere minutes inside.

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On ANZAC day 2016, two sculptures of conscientious objectors in the ‘field punishment number one’ position were placed around Wellington to remember those who opposed the war and challenge the on-going romanticisation of war and the militarisation of this day. One of these can currently be viewed in the new Ngā Heke exhibiton at Wellington Museum.

Sculpture commemorating conscientious objectors

Then on Sunday 22 May we placed lifejackets on statues around Wellington to remember those who have lost their lives while seeking asylum and those who still struggle for it.

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At the start of June the government announced it would spend $20 Billion on upgrading the NZDF despite stating in the Defence White Paper that “New Zealanders can remain confident that the country does not face a direct military threat in the foreseeable future.” We created a better white paper to highlight alternatives the money could be spent on.

a better white paper

In June and then again in August we organised protests outside the Australian High Commission to condemn Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers and New Zealand’s deafening silence on this topic.

In August we also spotted a series of full sized drone outlines in Wellington taking the discussion of the weapons industry to the streets.

Drone shadow

In September we went and visited the office of MAS Zengrange, a Lower Hutt company that makes mortar-firing systems and other war products. They weren’t pleased to see us. Five activists were arrested after they left the building.

October was a super busy month where we had a campaign launch party, a rally against the war industry, an art exhibition/fundraiser gig to raise awareness and replenish the coffers and finally a picnic to disrupt the Navy’s Trafalgar Luncheon.

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In November we supported Auckland Peace Action’s protests against the annual Weapons Conference and Navy celebrations. Some of us took part in Auckland whilst others delivered a message to the Wellington City Council asking them not to host the conference in a council venue again.

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The year began with court appearances for those arrested at last year’s Weapons Conference protests and various dates continued throughout the year with the trial date finally being set for 13 February 2017. December thus was taken up by fundraising for the legal costs. Thanks to everyone who has donated and spread the word.

You can still donate here www.tinyurl.com/PAWPLedgeMe

See you in 2017!

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Support Activists Facing Court

This month we are doing a big fundraising push for the legal costs of the upcoming court case of people arrested at the 2015 Weapons Conference protest. Any support you can give is greatly appreciated.

We have set up a Pledge Me campaign with rewards that you can donate directly to www.pledgeme.co.nz/projects/4950

We are also having a movie fundraiser at 6pm on December 19 at Lighthouse Cuba cinema. Tickets are $20 each and will include a small treat bag. You can book tickets by emailing peacewellington@riseup.net and find more info on the facebook event.

What Happened Again?

In November 2015 hundreds of people protested against the Weapons Conference at a blockade organised by Peace Action Wellington. It was a peaceful, fun two days through which we aimed to stop and disrupt arms dealers from profiting from war. The police arrested 27 people over the two days – some in the non-violent blockade on public property (outside the Wellington City Council owned TSB Arena), some for asking why their friends were being arrested and others for just being there!

The police said we would just be in the cells for a few hours and would be released without charge. However, they did charge us and 16 of us are still being taken to court.

These court proceedings have been dragged out for over a year but the 16 of us, who are facing minor charges of obstruction and trespass, will now be taken to trial in February 2017. This will be a week long trial, held by the Crown rather than police prosecutor and with more than 30 witnesses being called by the police. All for standing up against the weapons trade.

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Who Are We?

We are students, teachers, lawyers, filmmakers, office workers, labourers, engineers, mums and dads. We choose to stand up for something we believe in and exercise our right to protest. We believe in community action as a way to create positive change in our communities. Being dragged through a lengthy court case as a result has been a long, exhausting, difficult and expensive struggle.

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What will the money be used for?

The funds raised will go towards legal costs which include: a contribution for our lawyers – who receive no legal aid funding for this work – and for costs incurred during court (eg. travel, food, and a hardship fund given the defendants will not be able work that week).

More background on the case that will be continuously updated can be found here: https://peaceactionwellington.wordpress.com/not-guilty-court-updates/

And a round up of the two day of protests can be found here: https://peaceactionwellington.wordpress.com/2015/11/19/blockade-timeline/

Thank you for your support. Please share our Pledge Me campaign far and wide.

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Week of Peace: No Weapons Expo! No Warships! Part 2

Part two of our wrap up of Auckland Peace Action’s Week of Peace (did you miss Part one?). On the second day of the Weapons Expo, a noise demo was organised to coincide with the awards ceremony and gala dinner. People were encouraged to come along with noisemakers, instruments, banners and placards – to help drown out the weapons dealers’ party happening inside.

The Wall of Noise began with industrial noise screaming through the sound system accompanied with whatever racket people could make.

Happening now! #peaceaction

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Police called in noise control to shut down the sound system and confiscate another but by then the cacophony was so great it was barely noticeable when they were gone.

The wall of noise continued for three hours until 9pm when everyone had thoroughly thrashed their instruments.

It was a cathartic experience for many and a powerful way to come together and express our sentiment for the global arms trade.

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On Friday a planned Navy celebration event, the 1000 soldier international street march was cancelled. The Navy said it was out of respect for earthquake victims but seeing as half the warships had swanned off to Kaikoura to prance about there together the other half seemed to have cold feet in front of some opposition.

The Peace Flotilla was organised to coincide with the Naval Review moved its date on to the Saturday as the Navy switched dates earlier in the week.

The peace flotilla set sail in Waitemata harbour to surround the navy boats in the “naval review” with support from people on land.

The Pacific Panther Network were out on the water protecting te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa.

Pinochet’s torture ship was in Auckland’s harbour.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/29/pinochet-torture-chile-ship

The Peace Flotilla was another strong stand against the war machine and glorification of war from many different groups.

One of the warships parading around Auckland was an Indonesian naval ship. Indonesia illegally holds West Papua under brutal military occupation and aids Australia in denying asylum seekers the right to seek asylum.

The final day of the Week of Peace was truly a bonanza of events with the Grannies4Peace holding a tea party that same afternoon.

And then to wrap it all up an alternative prayer service outside Holy Trinity Cathedral where a naval glorification service was being held inside.

Wow! What a Week of Peace! It was so wonderful to see so many different groups get involved and make it happen. Full credit to Auckland Peace Action for awesome organising. We will take inspiration from your words and actions if the arms dealers come back to Wellington. See you next year!

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Week of Peace: No Weapons Expo! No Warships! Part 1

Auckland Peace Action organised a Week of Peace over 13-20 November 2016 in response to the NZDIA moving it’s annual weapons conference to Auckland to coincide with the NZ Navy events including a flotilla of warships. Here’s the first part of two wrapping up the events.

The call to action was made loud and clear.

Inspiration came from many places including a public speaking event on Tuesday from anti-nuclear activist Dr Helen Caldicott on ending the global arms trade.

A few days earlier workshops on non violent direct action had been held to prepare people for the action.

Thus on Wednesday morning people gathered at 8am in Silo Park ready to blockade the first day of the weapons conference.

Protestors began to block off entrances to the building.

The police violently pushed back at protestors who approached another access point.

Then momentum swiftly turned to the side of the protestors when the fence was pulled down allowing direct access to the building entrances.

Arms dealers who got inside early could only watch as the majority of their colleagues were blocked from attending the conference they paid a tidy sum to attend.

People swiftly moved in to block the entrances directly.

The fences have been torn down. The clowns are in control now #WarStartsHere #blockadetheweaponsconference

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Ka whawhai tonu mātou. Ake! Ake! Ake!

👮🏻👮🏼👮🏻👮🏼‍♀️👮🏻 Pre-work #warstartshere #warstopshere

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The blockade became an epic human chain preventing any arms dealers from entering the building.

Despite continuing threats from police to bring out peeper spray and tasers protestors remained steadfast.

Though some scuffles still broke out when individual arms dealers tried to enter the building desperate to make a killing. The low point of this was when police knocked over some small children when trying to aid an arms dealer.

None the less the blockade continued, the strength of which must in part be put down to the many different groups who answered the call to action and brought their own special magic along.

The hours stretched on as no one was able to enter. One arms dealer waiting nearby in a cafe was overheard to say he spent a total of $15,000 on attending the conference, another had come all the way from New York.

The blockade ended when the Venga Boys ‘Boom, Boom, Boom’ played through the sound system and all the tiredness of an eight hour protest suddenly washed away as a dance celebration spontaneously began. The police continued to block off the building watching on unsmiling.

Media reported that at least 350 attendees were blocked access to the conference. The blockade was a resounding success with many other actions planned in the days to come.

The next day kicked off with Karanga Tangaroa organised by the Pacific Panthers.

An action responding to the Naval Defence use of ‘Tangaroa’ in their operations title ‘Mahi Tangaroa’.

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Photos by Julie Zhu http://www.facebook.com/JulieZhuPhotography/

Police Intimidation at Sacred Ceremony

Karanga Tangaroa was a powerful and beautiful display of culture and traditional prayer. It affirmed our role as indigenous peoples in the Pacific to respect and to protect our ocean and each other against militarism.

We started with karakia, and then followed with wahine of the Pacific facing the Waitemata harbour and performing karanga to Tangaroa.

Tāwhirimātea and Ranginui sent a heavy rain shower in support of the wahine who stood at the water’s edge, conducting sacred rituals of karakia and karanga.

The rain eased once the tapu (sacred) proceedings had finished, the sun burst through the clouds and a speaking circle commenced sharing korero about the kaupapa of the day.

It was described by many who attended as a profoundly moving and sacred event.

The proceedings of the day ended by enjoying a shared bbq lunch.

Despite the success of the day, many were traumatised by the heavy handed tactics of the policing especially considering the nature of the event.

Tina Ngata felt that “the actions of the police were indisputably intended to bully and intimidate us. They employed paramilitary tactics against a peaceful, sacred gathering of indigenous women. This is an abuse of our human rights to gather and pray, a clear example of the racist nature of policing against Maori in New Zealand.”

The Pacific Panther Network wants to know why was a police helicopter hovering over and intimidating and defiling the sacred ceremony at karanga Tangaroa ?

Why were a substantial number of police present armed with long batons and a paddy wagon at a family friendly event ?

A police photographer was also present. A senior police officer who when questioned as to why the police were present in such force disclosed that “the police were present as part of an official police operation”.

He refused to disclose any more details about this police operation when questioned further.

Marama Davison who performed karanga with other wahine on the day adds : “There was no need for such an overdone amount of police at such a peaceful event. Around the world state forces are being used as intimidation tactics and that actually goes against international human rights law”.

The Pacific Panthers will be pursuing a formal complaint about heavy handed policing directed at a peaceful cultural ceremony.

Continue on reading about the Week of Peace in part two of our wrap up.

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Upcoming Events in November

Oppose the war industry: Tell the Wellington City Council to never host the Weapons Expo again

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In solidarity with the protests in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland, against the Weapons Expo and the Navy’s celebration of 75 years of war we’re going to keep up the pressure with a demonstration here in te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington.

On Wednesday the 16th Nov, 12pm we’re meeting at the Aotearoa International Festival of Arts & Resistance at Thistle Hall, and at 12:30pm marching down Cuba Street to the Wellington City Council to deliver a letter and strong message to the council to never host the Weapons Expo in their venues again.

On Thursday the 17th Nov,please join us in crafting peace at Aotearoa International Festival of Arts & Resistance at Thistle Hall – making peace wreaths & peace symbols to scatter around the city. 11am onwards.

Let’s make it loud and clear that arms dealers and war profiteers are not welcome in Aotearoa. Follow the Facebook event for more details.

What’s happening in Auckland?

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This year the Weapons Expo is being held in Auckland to coincide with the Navy’s celebrations of 75 years of war, with warships from around the world coming to Auckland harbour.

For the first time in 32 years a US warship is coming to Aotearoa. The naval training exercises in the Hauraki gulf clearly display the preparation of New Zealand navy for more wars, and the US warship is just another step along the path of closer military ties with the USA and USA-led wars.

These two events clearly link the business end of the war industry with the killing people side of it, showing the deadly power of war as a business opportunity.

Auckland Peace Action has organised a “Week of Peace” to counter the money and blood fuelled Weapons Expo. This includes a blockade of the weapons expo and a peace flotilla.Some members of Peace Action Wellington are going to Auckland but others are staying to organise actions down here.

For more information about Auckland Peace Action go to www.aucklandpeaceaction.wordpress.com

Continuing the campaign against arms company Mas Zengrange in Lower Hutt

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November 22nd: We’ll be holding a stall near Lower Hutt Pak’n’Save to highlight the presence of an arms company in the neighbourhood and then moving to MAS Zengrange on Downer Street to let them know they’re not welcome.

More details to come on the event page here. Check out the video of our last Mas Zengrange action if you haven’t seen it already.

The Peace Foundation hosts Dr Helen Caldicott. ‘An End to Armed Conflict: New Zealand’s Unique Challenge’

Click here for more details.

Did you miss the FIFTH EYE the first time around?

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Don’t worry! It’s back for a limited run at the Paramount Cinema, Wellington from Thursday 10th November. Head to the Paramount website for times and tickets. This film got 5* from Peace Action Wellington viewers at the film festival and is a highly recommended doco about the activist mission to disarm the Waihopai spy base and an expose of NZ’s involvement in global war and surveillance.

Aotearoa International Festival of Arts and Resistance

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‘A new biennial event with a kaupapa of counteracting racism, plutocracy and capitalism by means of conscious music, poetry, art, speech, film/video and protest action is coming to the capital city.‘ Our Wellington actions protesting the Weapons Expo will be integrated into the event – check out more here.
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