MAS Zengrange unwelcome in Lower Hutt

maszengrange20160921Peace Action Wellington went to visit MAS Zengrange, the local arms dealer in Lower Hutt, who manufacture mortar-firing systems and other war products. Even though multiple Deaths tried to throw them a party to recognise their profit from war, the arms dealers were strangely unhappy to see us. Five peace activists were arrested. No arms dealers were arrested.

MAS Zengrange, based at 30-32 Downer Street, manufacture ‘fire control systems’, or trigger systems, used to fire explosives, mortars and artillery. These are then used to kill people in wars around the world.

MAS Zengrange admit on their website that they sell to a range of Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, who are infamous for their human rights abuses and relentless bombing attacks on innocent civilians in Yemen. By selling to Saudi Arabia, MAS Zengrange is actively complicit in the deaths of people there.

Despite employing explicit images of weapons in active military use to accompany their products, when interviewed at the 2015 Weapons Expo in Wellington, MAS Zengrange tried to claim that their products were “…not used in an aggressive sense at all”.

September 2016 is a worldwide month of action against the arms trade in all of its forms and the campaign against MAS Zengrange is just beginning.

maszengrange3_20160921 If you want to let your neighbours know that their business of war is unacceptable, you can contact them directly on sales@maszengrange.co.nz or by calling 04 570 2688. Or you could go and visit them to let them know.

#WarStartsHere, we need to stop it here.

 

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#NauruFiles Action for Asylum Seekers

naurufiles_demo_3229

On Thursday, August 25, around 100 people demanded that the NZ & Australian governments do more for refugees and put an end to detention now.

We told the NZ government to stand up to our Australian cousins, the Australian High Commission to #CloseTheCamps and sent our solidarity to refugees and asylum seekers in detention – while you are not free, nor are we.

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People in Nauru sent a message thanking all those involved in solidarity protests in Aotearoa – NZ.

And here are some photos from rallies in Australia.

 

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Tea not Troops, Soup not Soldiers, Dinner not Drones

wopasjJoin us for a social and campaign launch to meet fellow peace activists and plot the resistance to the November Weapons Expo in Auckland and Wellington.

Saturday, 3rd September
4:00 pm
4 Kelburn Pde, Kelburn, Wellington

We’ll provide the kai, you bring the awesome!

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#NauruFiles and NZ: An action for Asylum Seekers!

nauru_files_shotJoin Peace Action Wellington, Changemakers Refugee Forum and friends for speakers at Parliament at lunchtime on the 25th August followed by a march to the Australian High Commission. Check the facebook event for updates.

With the release of the #NauruFiles, abuse and inhumane conditions on Nauru are once again in the spotlight. The end of August 2016 marks 15 years since the 483 refugees rescued by the Tampa were refused by Australia and taken to Nauru, starting the ‘Pacific Solution’ and Australia’s use of offshore detention to avoid taking in refugees. 150 of the Tampa refugees were eventually granted citizenship by New Zealand.

History repeats itself again as there is offer from the New Zealand government to take 150 people from the centres, which Australia has so far refused to take up. It’s time for the NZ government, as Australia’s closest ally, to put pressure on them to end mandatory offshore detention policy and accept refugees, as required under international law. We can and should do more, NZ accepts far fewer per capita refugees than Australia each year.

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru have been protesting for months. Australian activists and civil society are working to turn the tide of opinion. Kiwis need to stand in solidarity, speak up and take action for asylum seekers. #BringThemHere

There will be short speeches on Parliament steps and then we will then march to the Australian High Commission to tell them to #CloseTheCamps #EndDetentionNow

Here are the current confirmed speakers – with more to come!

– Two former Save the Children staff in the Nauru detention centre
– Peace Action Wellington on the links between the military industrial complex and refugees
– Amnesty International NZ, who recently released a report on abuse & neglect of refugees on Nauru
– Kelvin Davis, Labour MP who has visited Kiwis in detention on Christmas Island and has spoken out against offshore detention
– Marama Davidson, Green Party MP who supports refugees and asylum seekers
– Nurredin Abdurahman, Oromo Community member of a refugee background

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Petition against arms fair launched on Hiroshima & Nagasaki Commemoration Day

james_barber_hiroshima_Nagasaki_day

James Barber speaking at the 71st Hiroshima and Nagasaki day

Auckland Peace Action (APA) launched a petition this weekend calling for an end to state support of the upcoming weapons conference and a redirection of the defence budget to benefit the people of Aotearoa. Peace Action Wellington (PAW) launched the petition in Wellington at an event commemorating the 71st anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unnecessary and barbaric acts against ordinary civilians, the ongoing effects of which are well known, and extend down the generations.

Today the threat of nuclear war has only increased. The number of nuclear states has swelled, and the profit margins of those companies which make these weapons, as well as other weapons such as drones, has continued to increase. The list of similar atrocities committed by the United States’ armed forces has also grown.

Last year, and the year before, the Wellington City Council’s own company hosted a weapons conference in one of their venues. This weapons conference was organised by a business lobby group, the Defence Industry Association, which represents private companies which make money out of supplying armaments and other needs for militaries here around the world.

This conference was sponsored by a leading weapons manufacturer, and nuclear weapons manufacturer, Lockheed Martin. It even received support from New Zealand government agencies such as New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, which sees this as a market opportunity to grow businesses.

This year the weapons conference will take place in Auckland and will coincide with a militarised gala celebrating the New Zealand navy’s 75th birthday. Warships from around the world have been invited, including those from the United States of America.

APA is mobilising public opposition locally, and PAW is organising support and opposition in Wellington. This weekend APA launched a petition calling for the New Zealand government to:

1. Stop providing sponsorship, funding and support to the annual New Zealand Defence Industry expo, and militarisation.

2. Redirect the “Vote Defence Budget” for urgent housing, educational, health, social and environmental needs, and for supporting an increased refugee intake from war torn countries.

3. Support a strong stand for peace. Kia kaha.

Please sign the petition and add your voice to the call for peace and an end to war for profit.

Hiroshima_nagasaki_day_2016

The 71st Hiroshima and Nagasaki Day, Wellington 2016

On a day when the innocent people killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were remembered, this petition launch was a reminder that innocent people continue to be killed in unnecessary wars today.

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Killer Drones in Wellington City?

A drone shadow in Aro Valley, Wellington, New Zealand.

A drone shadow in Aro Valley, Wellington, New Zealand.

Peace Action Wellington is delighted to see that street art in Wellington has taken on the weapons industry, with a series of drone drawings appearing on the streets of the city.

Full-scale drawings of unmanned aerial vehicles that carry out surveillance and air strikes have been sighted on the waterfront and in Aro Valley. It’s not clear how many there are in total, but they seem to follow the template set out by British artist James Bridle.

The ongoing illegal drone war carried out by the USA and UK, and supported by NZ, has killed over a thousand civilians and is perpetuating the crisis in the Middle East.

NZ is involved primarily through our membership in the 5 Eyes programme. Prime minister John Key has acknowledged that the GCSB provides information to the US which is used in drone strikes. In May 2014 he described drone strikes as “an effective way of prosecuting people that are legitimate targets”.

In 2006 a Pakistani school was targeted – 80 people died, 69 of them were school children aged between 7 and 17, the target being ‘prosecuted’ was the headmaster.

In 2011 a 16 year old American citizen, Abdulrahman Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed along with several others by a drone strike in Yemen. The USA has denied that he was a target despite a drone strike targeting and killing his father, Anwar al-Awlaki, two weeks earlier.

In 2013 the first known New Zealand citizen was killed in a drone strike, he was collateral damage (along with four other people).

A drone strike in Syria carried out in July 2016 by a US-led coalition killed entire families, including young children – families that were fleeing Islamic State militants but were instead mistaken for those very fighters.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia have all suffered drone strikes by US or UK drones controlled from thousands of miles away – effectively the death penalty imposed by a foreign country without trial, and often without any declaration of war.

Thankfully the drones that are stalking the streets of Wellington seem to be harmless, but serve as a reminder that people unfortunate enough to live in war zones are faced with the reality that the gigantic robots hovering in the sky above could kill them at any time.

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Australian High Commission under detention, Wellingtonians protest treatment of refugees

On 23 June, Peace Action Wellington (PAW) and around 50 Wellingtonians blockaded the Australian High Commission, creating a symbolic detention centre to protest the Australian Government’s policy of mandatory offshore detention for refugees and asylum seekers.

PAW also delivered a large inflatable ‘message in a bottle’, bearing the slogan “Don’t be silent please – freedom is our right”, a message directly from protesters on Nauru and Manus Island. Peaceful protests by detaineed refugees and asylum seekers have almost reached their 100th day on Nauru and 40th on Manus Island.

Protestors at the Australian High Commission

Protestors at the Australian High Commission

23rd June marks a day of civil disobedience by Australian activists protesting treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. PAW stand in solidarity both with asylum seekers being held in detention and those Australians who actively oppose their government’s policy.

PAW Spokesperson Emma Cullen said “We chose to create a detention centre at the Australian High Commission because we feel that the Australian authorities lack empathy and need to understand that no one is illegal. They represent the Australian government, whose current treatment of refugees is reprehensible. While it’s only the embassy staff’s lunch hour, some asylum seekers and refugees have been detained on Manus Island and Nauru for years. We stand in solidarity with these people and demand their release.”

Access Denied at the Australian High Commission

Access Denied at the Australian High Commission

Australian government use of offshore detention has previously been abolished by the Australian government and could be again. Under international law (UDHR 14 & the Refugee Convention), everyone has the right to seek asylum and be protected – Australia is not living up to these standards. PAW call for an immediate end to Australia’s ‘No Way Will You Make Australia Home’ policy which leaves refugees in a state of limbo on Manus or Nauru under sometimes horrific conditions.

We call for an immediate end to all offshore detention and progression towards also closing all onshore detention centres in accordance with the Australia Human Rights Commission’s Alternatives to Detention. Peace Action Wellington also call on the New Zealand government to speak out against Australia’s racist policy, although with their recent shameful decision not to double our own Refugee Quota, this currently seems unlikely.

Protestor holds up a picture of Rakib, an asylum seeker who committed suicide on Nauru after asking for mental health help

Protestor holds up a picture of Rakib, an asylum seeker who committed suicide on Nauru after asking for mental health help

Emma says “We call on the Australian government to take leadership from their Indigenous leaders, who have on several occasions granted Original Nation passports to refugees and asylum seekers who have been detained or refused asylum by the Australian government. We also acknowledge the tanagta whenua of Aotearoa and call for tino rangatiratanga here. An indigenous non-capitalist approach to immigration, borders and refugees could be much more humane and than our current European settler inspired one.”

“Along with the USA and Europe, Aotearoa and Australia are also responsible for increasing numbers of refugees. The recently released NZ Defence White Paper adds a shocking $20 billion to military spending and John Key’s latest commitment to NZ forces remaining in Iraq will only lead to further people being displaced from their homes. The absolute least we can do is not then lock these people up in offshore gulags or, in the New Zealand government’s case, just ignore them. The Australian High Commission tried to ignore us today, refusing to accept

Message in a bottle reads 'Don't be silent please: freedom is our right'

Message in a bottle reads ‘Don’t be silent please: freedom is our right’

our letter of protest to their staff, but it’s clear with widespread protest across Australia today that public opinion is turning against them.”

Emma continues – “Australia, your racist borders kill. Today we demand justice for Reza Barati, Rakib, Omid Masoulami, Hamid Kehazaei, Fezal Chegani, all of whom have died because of Australia’s border policy and also Hodan Yasin whose status is currently unknown. No one is illegal – end detention now.”

 

Notes for editors:

– As of March 2016, 905 asylum seekers are being held on Manus Island and 468 asylum seekers, including 55 women and 50 children being held on Nauru. http://www.border.gov.au/ReportsandPublications/Documents/statistics/immigration-detention-statistics-31-mar-2016.pdf

– Asylum seekers are currently being held for record amounts of times in offshore detention – on average almost 450 days. Nearly a quarter have been held for over 750 days. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-13/immigration-detention-times-blow-out-to-almost-450-days/7085264

– Manus island detention centre operated between 2001-2004. Nauru was previously open between 2001-2008. Both have since been reopened and operating since 2012. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Australian_immigration_detention_facilities

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