Welcoming refugees

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Seeking asylum is not a crime. Refugees welcome.

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

Lifejackets have become a symbol of refugees and the ongoing crisis of over 60 million people forcibly displaced from their home countries by war and ongoing conflicts. People seeking asylum in Europe boarding unsafe boats in lifejackets, risking life and limb, have now had the borders shut around them.

Our closest neighbour Australia has committed to a brutal policy of allowing no refugees arriving by boat to enter Australia. Instead they have created inhumane and illegal offshore detention centres while simultaneously turning back boats in an effort to deter people seeking asylum there.

Here in New Zealand our government has said and done nothing to condemn the actions of those persecuting and turning away refugees at their most vulnerable. The government has not increased the annual refugee quota of 750 since 1987 and illegally detains some asylum seekers in New Zealand prisons in contradiction of international humanitarian law. This is the same government that passed the Mass Arrivals Bill and floated the possibility of having people seeking asylum taken to Australian detention centres to deter any future arrivals.

The New Zealand government’s silence and inaction makes it complicit in the death and suffering of those who have the right to seek asylum.

We ask the New Zealand government to take an equal part in the international crisis and increase the refugee quota and funding accordingly. We demand the release of asylum seekers currently being held within New Zealand prisons, who should be offered the same services available to quota refugees. Repeal the Mass Arrivals Bill, terminate any subsequent deal with Australia and call for the closing of their detention centres and an end to mandatory detention. Peace Action Wellington also calls for the New Zealand government to cease any involvement in foreign conflicts that ultimately lead to the creation of refugees.

To get involved with supporting refugees in Aotearoa try Red Cross and Double the Quota or come along to a discussion on border militarisation on Thursday May 26.

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Remembering the conscientious objectors

Sculpture commemorating conscientious objectors

Sculpture commemorating conscientious objectors

Lest we forget to challenge the glorification of war this ‪#‎AnzacDay2016‬

We remember the conscientious objectors who were persecuted and abused by the army and the government for their belief that war is wrong.

Sculptures of Archie Baxter and other conscientious objectors were found placed around Wellington this Anzac Day in the ‘field punishment number one’ position, which was used to torture them and attempt to pressure them into taking part in warfare during World War One.

On the 1st of October 1917 three New Zealand conscientious objectors to fighting in world war one received Field Punishment No. 1. They were suspended from poles at a punishment camp. Their hands were bound tightly behind their backs for up to four hours per day in all weathers. The poles were tipped forward, and the ropes cut into the flesh, cutting off blood flow.

The New Zealand author and conscientious objector, Archibald Baxter, described this experience in his book “We Shall Not Cease.” Baxter’s punishment lasted twenty eight days. ‘My hands were taken from round the pole, tied together and pulled well up it, straining and cramping the muscles and forcing them into an unnatural position…. he knew how to pull and strain at the ropes till they cut into the flesh and completely stopped the circulation.’ ‘I was strained so tightly against the post that I was unable to move body or limbs a fraction of an inch.’

In addition to this conscientious objectors were subject to imprisonment, starvation, beatings and sometimes forced into German artillery and gun fire.

Conscientious objectors withstood horrific conditions and physical torment to defend peace and protest the unnecessary deaths of millions. With the ongoing militarisation of ANZAC day, its romanticisation of war, and its promotion of the armed forces, it is no surprise that the stories of conscientious objectors are left out of the ANZAC myth.

The first World War was a completely unnecessary conflict. It happened to protect and expand the empires involved, not to defend principles such as freedom or democracy. The millions who died endured tortuous conditions in conflict and were victims of an international power struggle. Many who resisted war, for religious or moral reasons, were subjected to torture and imprisonment.

It’s time to end the romanticisation of war and the militarisation of ANZAC day.

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No Heart for Anzac Frigates

A protester was violently arrested at a pre-Anzac Day demonstration at the Ministry of Defence staged by Peace Action Wellington on Monday 18 April to mark the Global Day of Action on Military Spending.

The peaceful protest highlighted the government’s recent invitation of US warships to Aotearoa, and spoke out against out against military spending.

As Anzac Day approaches, New Zealand’s defence industry continues to exploit the Anzac myth for the perpetuation of its war agenda. New Zealand has just recommitted its military presence in Iraq, and its ‘ANZAC class’ frigates are being upgraded in a $446 million contract won by the Canadian arm of global security and aerospace company Lockheed Martin. The upgrade includes missile defence, communications and radar detection, torpedo decoys and an overall combat management system.

Lockheed Martin is chief sponsor of the NZ Defence Industry Association’s weapons conference, to be held in Auckland in November. The annual conference, which Peace Action protested in Wellington last year, is an opportunity for those who profit from war, to display their wares and woo government contracts.

“As one of the world’s largest manufacturers of intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles, Lockheed Martin’s role in the weapons conference and the Navy upgrade is contrary to the spirit of New Zealand’s nuclear free status, and an offense to the memory of those who died senselessly from war 100 years ago”, says Peace Action Wellington spokesperson Tim Bollinger.

The Auckland event will coincide with the New Zealand Navy 75th anniversary celebrations, which will see a large flotilla of foreign naval ships paraded in Auckland harbour. The government’s invitation to the world’s navies to attend the event is extended to vessels from both France and the United States, countries that have historically challenged New Zealand’s strong anti-nuclear position.

If the U.S. accepts the invitation, it will be the first visit to New Zealand from a US naval vessel, since our Nuclear Free legislation required them to drop their “neither confirm nor deny” policy on the presence of nuclear armaments on their ships in the late 1980s. They have never conceded.

Peace Action Wellington protested the Navy upgrade and the government’s position on US ships by delivering a cardboard US warship, named the USS Apocalypse to highlight its possible nuclear capability to the Ministry of Defence. Protesters asked to deliver the ship and their message of peace to Minister of Defence Gerry Brownlee, Chief of Defence Force Tim Keating and Chief of Navy John Martin but police swiftly arrived. Whilst protesters were leaving, one demonstrator who has a pre-existing injury was violently arrested, worsening her condition.

“The spirit of the Anzacs should not be used for the glorification of the defence industry’s present day war agenda,” Tim Bollinger said. “The $446 million spent on the frigate upgrade could have paid for 7,824 heart operations. Peaceful protests highlighting these issues should not be met with arrest.

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The Nuclear Free Wellington Sign Returns

Peace Action Wellington members were delighted to discover that the old Nuclear Free Wellington sign has been returned to its rightful place, welcoming travellers from Wellington Airport.
Sign reading"Welcome to Wellington: A nuclear-free city" and a peace symbol with koru stylingAt a time when concern about nuclear weapons is growing and the Government is building closer military ties with the United States of America we should remember the importance of our Nuclear Free status, and the significance of Wellington as a Nuclear Free Peace City.

 

Wellington was declared a nuclear free zone on April 14 1982 and 40 local authorities in total had declared themselves nuclear-free by the end of 1984.

It is an affront to this country’s nuclear-free status that a naval exercise with United States ships will be taking place in the waters of the Aotearoa New Zealand this November.The naval exercise will be run in connection with the Defence Industry Association’s annual Weapons Conference. The conference is part trade expo and part bidding for Government contracts, has been marked by strong protest in Wellington. The United States of America refuses to confirm or deny the presence of nuclear power or weapons on these ships. They should not be permitted here and we should not build military ties with a country responsible for atrocities such as those at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. The Weapons Conference and is taking place in Auckland in 2016.

nuclear_free_2Peace Action Wellington appreciates all the good work Auckland groups are doing organising resistance to this upcoming conference. We cannot allow companies to use war as a money making opportunity.

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Solidarity action: Women 4 Syria

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Yesterday we met in Wellington to plant edible plants in public spaces to honour the lives of millions of Syrian women enduring siege, war, exile, disposession and imprisonment, as well as those who have passed away. The reason we used … Continue reading

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Court solidarity for #StopWeaponsConf arrestees

26 people were arrested for protesting the annual Weapons Conference in November 2015. The #StopWeaponsConf days of protest blockaded the entrance of the Wellington council run TSB Arena where arms dealers and NZ Defence Forces met to discuss weapons and war. The conference offered delegates excellent opportunities to ‘speed date’ with their fave arms manufacturer and check out the displays of machine guns, ammo and fun shooting games. It was sponsored by the world’s largest arms company and nuclear warhead manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.

Protesters blocked entrances, interrupted proceedings with noise outside and had a party to disrupt the arms dealers cocktail party and dinner.

The cops as usual stood on the side of cash, violence and the status quo – violently attacking and arresting 27 peaceful protesters. They arrested zero arms dealers.

One protesters’ charge was since dropped but 26 are still being prosecuted. At the first court appearance, back in November, protesters put in an initial plea of NOT GUILTY. Many plan to fight their charges.

The next court date is now coming up – 18th February. Come along and show your solidarity with those protesters who were arrested standing up against the arms dealers and NZDF!

We will be holding a rally outside the court at 8.30am. The hearing is set to be at 10am (though who knows how long they’ll make us wait!) and people should be able to come into the court room as well. If you can’t make it on the day and still want to show your solidarity, please share the event, invite your friends and share/donate to the GiveaLittle page to help with legal costs: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/stopweaponsconf/12644829_1128990017164034_133629416229297115_n

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It’s not over: Help support arrested peace activists

On the 17th and 18th of November, over 150 people gathered outside Wellington’s TSB arena in response to a call out made by Peace Action Wellington. We successfully blockaded and disrupted the NZDIA’s annual weapons conference, hindering the business of war. In response the police were violent, heavy-handed and arrested 27 people across the two days.

One charge has been dropped but 26 activists are now fighting charges that range from trespass to disorderly behaviour, and looking for your support with legal funds. Everyone has plead ‘not guilty’ to the charges and is required to return to court on the 18th February 2016.

Being charged and taken to court is a lengthy and expensive process and thus a Givealittle page has been set up to accept donations to support those arrested. We really appreciate whatever you are able to donate, please feel free to share with your networks.

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