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.
The 27 people arrested blockading the weapons conference in Wellington last week appeared in the Wellington District Court this morning and have said that they will defend the charges against them.
“All of us are firmly of the view that the crimes going on at the weapons conference were the ones inside the where the companies were busy making deals to sell more weapons. The people blockading took non-violent direct action to stop the proliferation of more death and destruction,” said Peace Action Wellington member and arrestee Valerie Morse.
“Following the arrests, most of the people were told that they would be issued with a warning instead of being charged. The police, however, changed their minds and instead decided to charge people with minor offences simply so they could impose bail conditions on them prohibiting them from returning to the TSB Arena where the weapons conference was being held. The police were instrumental in shutting down the right to freedom of speech and protest for all of these people, even though they had done nothing wrong.”
“Many of the arrestees were simply the easiest targets for police because they were standing apart from the main blockade, often out of a desire to avoid being arrested. The police then did not file the charges with the court until today so these restrictive bail conditions could not be challenged while the weapons conference was still going on.”
“This court case is just an attempt to silence people and intimidate them into not participating in political activity.”
“The campaigns against the weapons conference and NZ’s participation in the now 14-year-old war on terrorism will continue. Einstein said, ‘We cannot simultaneously prepare and prevent war’ and yet world leaders seem to think that they can bomb the world to peace.”
The next court date is Monday, 18 February at 10am.
A protestor is led away. Photo by Nick Tapp.
Wellington anti-war activists say that their blockade of the Defence Industry Association´s (DIA) annual conference was more than justified in light of the rise in 3.5% of Lockheed Martin´s share price on Monday.
“The fact that the shares of major weapons manufacturers soared following the deadly attacks in Paris shows how much these companies profit from death and destruction. This is why a hundred and fifty people disrupted the weapons conference in Wellington on Tuesday,” said Peace Action Wellington member Valerie Morse.
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee had stated on Tuesday that delegates were not discussing the business of war. He also said none of the companies at the conference supplied weapons or arms to the defence force.
Lockheed Martin, the world´s largest weapons manufacturer, was the principal sponsor of the conference and holds a NZ$400m contract to refurbish NZ´s frigates. Other sponsors included General Dynamics, Thales and CAE.
“Who does Gerry Brownlee think he is fooling when he says that the weapons conference is concerned with paper cups and socks? Or is he suggesting that the frigates will be armed solely with wool products?” Ms Morse said.
“The public know as well as the delegates that the conference was all about making money from war – and people have made it clear that they find this unacceptable. More than 1000 people signed a petition asking the council, which owns the TSB Arena, to stop the conference and 150 turned up to protest on the day.”
“War is not just another business and people should not have been arrested for trying to shut down what is an immoral and illegitimate activity,” Ms Morse concluded.
The twitter hashtag #StopWeaponsConf was among the trending topics on Tuesday.
What an awesome week in the campaign to Stop the Weapons Conference!
We had a big day on Tuesday; we prevented and impeded lots of the delegates from getting inside the weapons conference, and disrupted their opening speeches with noise outside. The Minister of Defence Gerry Brownlee was forced to try and justify the conference, which is a good sign that we’re winning!
A total of 27 people were arrested by the police for being willing to put their bodies on the line to stop the international arms trade. These people were all given a bail condition not to go within 100 metres of the TSB Arena, effectively denying them all the right to freedom of expression at the Wednesday night event.
Last night, the Block Party went on for three hours, disrupting the conference dinner and awards ceremony. The police arrested two people.
All of the arrestees will appear at the Wellington District Court on Monday, 23 November at 9am.
Will you please:
- Join us for a Solidarity Picket outside the District Court (Balance Street) to support the arrestees on Monday, 23 November at 8:30am. We’ll have some banners and placards.
- Make a donation to our legal support fund: Peace Action Wellington Kiwibank Account: 38-9007-0839416-00 – reference “legal”. Thank you in advance for any donation you are able to afford.
We invite you to get involved in Peace Action Wellington; we have fortnightly meetings at 6pm. Email us to find out more: email@example.com You can also find us on Facebook and follow us on twitter @PeaceactionWGTN.
If you couldn’t join us for our two-day blockade of the ‘Defence Industry Conference’, or want a run-down of the events, check out our Storify timeline with tweets, pictures and videos from those who were there.
We’ve had a big day today blockading the weapons conference – and we’re headed back tomorrow. Please join us after work if you can. The weapons companies are having an awards ceremony for best weapons company & we’ve got a few awards of our own.
So join the party – Wednesday, 6pm at TSB Arena – please bring noisemakers, banners, costumes, music-making and join the block party to block the party.
There were lots of people willing to stand up for peace and justice – and the weapons dealers had a very unwelcome reception and a difficult time getting inside. There were 28 of us arrested today for a variety of charges. If you have any details about the day’s events especially if you saw anyone injured that would be useful for us for our court case, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ll see you on the streets!
There are two actions to stop the weapons conference this week:
- Blockade the Conference – Tuesday, 17 Nov 8am meet at Frank Kitts Park. Bring warm clothes, tasty food, a camera and your friends.
- Block Party to block the (cocktail) party – Wednesday, 18 Nov 6pm at TSB Arena. Bring your friends, food, two left feet, anything that makes a tune or a beat!