The Weapons Expo 2018 – Palmy is a Peace City!

This year the Weapons Expo shifted to Palmerston North on the 31st of October after successful protests in Auckland and Wellington in 2016 and 2017. Auckland Peace Action have written a nice summary of events here so here is some pictures from the two days.

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New warplanes won’t feed my daughters

Jessie Moss is sick and tired of organising school bake sales. Parents like her are familiar with an endless cycle of fundraising so their kids can go on school trips – so she was gutted when the government announced a $2.3 billion spend on six new planes with submarine-bombing capabilities.

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Jessie and daughters

“It’s just idiocy,” sighs Jessie. “We’re told time and time again when the teachers and nurses are out marching for better pay, that the money isn’t there – but when we need new warplanes, the magic money tree appears.”

While many people resent this unfairness, Jessie is speaking out. And it’s no surprise, as the charismatic teacher, musician, and mother of two comes from a long line of people who have used their talents to campaign for peace in Aotearoa. Her grandmother is Elsie Locke, one of New Zealand’s most famous peace activists. Other famous relatives include former Green MP Keith Locke and Maire Leadbeater.

As you might expect, Jessie has a wealth of inspiring anecdotes about her relatives and their activist careers. She tells an anecdote about Elsie and a pregnant friend delivering an anti-nuclear petition to Parliament. On presenting it, an overbearing official tried to shame them, saying that they had no business doing such things, especially ‘in that state’ – a charming reference to the pregnancy.

“Her friend’s response was ‘That’s exactly why I’m doing it,’” says Jessie.

“Of course, she’s pregnant – why wouldn’t she care about the state of the world for future generations?”

As a mother herself, Jessie thinks parents have an important part to play in raising thoughtful children who can analyse information intelligently. And – no guns.

“Children form their ideas about the world through play. I think it’s fine to say to four-year-olds, ‘Guns kill people, and that’s why I don’t want you to play with them.’ Or else how will they know?”

Growing up in Wellington, Jessie’s children haven’t experienced the horrors of war. But some of the children she teaches haven’t been so lucky. “I teach scores of Syrian kids in my class who are still traumatised from war. I can’t even begin to imagine what my students and their families have seen. It’s really hard to educate traumatised children, and yet we’re still sending that money off into systems that bomb their families who are still in Syria.”

“People are led to believe that war is necessary, war is inevitable. But actually this is a money-making business – it’s not about protecting borders. It’s an arms trade and at the end of that system, people are being killed.”

Jessie’s family can boast three generations of people who have used their voices to speak out against war. Yet the outspoken family has drawn unwelcome attention, and many members were spied on by private companies and the government. Some relatives were surveilled from the age of ten.

“It’s so creepy,” says Jessie. “They started to be included in their parents’ files at that age – because they were distributing pamphlets! My uncle (Keith Locke) was spied on for 40 or 50 years. The hilarious thing about it – you’ve got to have a slightly humorous take on it – is that it’s a massive wealth of autobiographical Information. It’s a good memory jogger!”

Does she think she was spied on herself? “Yeah. I asked the SIS and they said they could ‘neither confirm nor deny’, which means yes, usually.”

If Jessie seems to take it all in her stride, it’s a testament to having grown up around staunch family members who refused to be intimidated. “It shows just how afraid these big companies are of activists, their defensiveness around their grotty business dealings, and the lengths they go to protect that stuff – it’s disturbing.”

She’s following in her family’s footsteps with her own creative twist, using her role as a folk singer to discuss peace and workers’ rights. “if you’ve got such a platform, you’ve got an obligation to use it wisely – and I’m definitely not one for benign, boring lyrics,” she laughs.

She’s not exaggerating. Her group The Wooden box band combine simple, charming folk melodies with powerful, poetic lyrics that explore war, power and the power of collective action. Her favourite anti-war song? Joe Hill, about a unionist who was killed because of his activism. It speaks to the power of collective action, about a movement that’s bigger than its figurehead: I dreamed I saw, Joe Hill last night / Alive as you and me / Says I “But Joe, you’re ten years dead” / “I never died” says he.

“It’s so important that people recognise they’re part of something bigger,” says Jessie. “I think the societies that we live in cause people to be disconnected. People aren’t looking at the world, seeing the connections between things, and questioning systems.”

Having experienced the darker side of such systems, both through the harmed children she works so hard to educate and through the experiences of her family, she believes more passionately than ever that it’s vital to take a stand against injustice. She’s calling on people to protest the annual New Zealand Defence Industry Association (NZDIA) Weapons Expo, held this year in Palmerston North on Halloween. “If you don’t want people to be killed, you need to stand up and stop the arms trade. Because people are making huge profits off the deaths of innocent people.”

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Elsie Locke

“My nana (Elsie) would always say, ‘You see something that needs doing, you do it.’ It’s so important to draw attention to the Expo, because people don’t know that it’s happening on our doorstep. It’s something that you can directly affect, you can go down and have a presence at and make a noise.”

But what effect can small players like New Zealand hope to have on shutting down the global arms trade? “A few people can achieve a lot! If a small group of people getting petition signatures can push the government into going nuclear free, the same thing can be true for stopping the Weapons Expo. And the more countries that pull out of the arms trade cycle, the fewer weapons there are in circulation.”

“New Zealanders think of ourselves as pioneers,” she reflects. “Pioneers for suffrage, pioneers to go nuclear-free. New Zealand has done these things before, and has had a global influence – it’s a part of our legacy. These achievements were hard fought for – and hard won.” Elsie would be proud.

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Stop the Weapons Expo 2018!

Only a week to go till this year’s scariest Halloween event, the WEAPONS EXPO! Walking death merchants will be allowed to wander freely in Palmerston North unless we stop them!

Peaceful actions and disruptions will be going on over the days of the 31st October and 1st November, so please join for as long as you can! On 31 October you can join the Peace March – Stop the Weapons Expo at 11.30am starting at the Square the march will then head to the Central Energy Trust Arena where the Weapons Expo is being held. Check out Peace Action Manawatū for a taste of some of the events that are going on.

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Accommodation: If you are coming from out of town and need accommodation please register with Peace Action Manawatū. If you don’t want to use your name a pseudonym or nickname is fine. They just need numbers. https://goo.gl/forms/miG1n0BY6p2DVqb82

Transport: If you want help getting to Palmy, please email us when you plan to be there and return. We’ll try to find you a car share or look at other options. If you are planning to drive to Palmerston North for the protest and you have space in your car, please email us and let us know when you are traveling there and back, and how many spaces you have to offer.

Help from afar: If you can’t make it to Palmy you can still help out by sharing whats happening in the lead up and on the days of protest and use the hashtags #WarStartsHere #WeCanStopItHere #StopTheWEXPO2018

Why you should come and protest the Weapons Expo

Here is some inspiration from MP Golriz Ghahraman, who spoke at our public meeting last week about the human cost of the arms trade, her own experience as a refugee and why we should all stand up to those who want to profit from war.

Also check out this Spinoff article by Valerie Morse: “We can’t stand by while an event is hosted where Lockheed Martin is celebrated instead of condemned for its crimes against children in Yemen, and where New Zealand companies are supported to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and other repressive regimes. With all that in mind, why not book in a little Halloween trip to Palmerston North this year and join the peace action happening there?”


ALSO COMING UP!

Free film screening: Tātarakihi – The Children of Parihaka

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Join Peace Action and Te Tiriti Collective for a screening of this film, which explores the history of Parihaka’s non-violent resistance to the Crown, and the violence it was met with from the colonisers. The 2009 film follows a group of tamariki descended from Parihaka setting off on a journey to learn about their ancestors.

Tātarakihi will be screening in Wellington on November 3rd. 630pm, Wellington Central Baptist, 46-48 Boulcott Stwww.facebook.com/events/474206979726921/

More info here > peacewellington.org/parihaka

5th November: Parihaka Day
Expect to see these posters out in the streets.

100 posters will be available for pick-up from Stillwaters Community House at 327 Willis Street, Pōneke Wellington, from Mon 15 Oct. If you wish to reserve one please email/text Bronwyn on 022 076 8871.

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The People v NZDF: Picket Against International War Crimes!

PROTEST TOMORROW, Wednesday 17th, 4.30-5.30pm at the NZDF offices (William Colenso Square on Molesworth Street). Join us, Berrigan House, Organise Aotearoa and the Hit & Run Inquiry Campaign to protest revelations of war crimes covered up by the NZDF.

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Nicky Hager’s new report has exposed horrific acts of violence upon civilians in Afghanistan that have been covered up by the New Zealand Defense Force. This includes a medic, who committed war crimes by killing two children in Afghanistan, receiving a bravery medal for his actions. He also reports whistleblowers revealing a wide culture of sexual abuse and homophobia among NZDF personnel. You can read the full story on PressReader here if you have a Wellington Public Library account.

NZ troops have been in Afghanistan for 17 years now – for what? Each year we hear about more war crimes and more deaths of children and civilians at the hands of NZ troops. The military has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars manufacturing a slick public image of a noble, brave and honest force, but the reality beneath that image is violence and a contempt for the law.

On Wednesday 17th, 4.30pm, we will mobilise a People’s Court outside the NZDF’s head offices in Wellington to bring charges against the NZDF for its international war crimes against civilians, its attempts to cover them up, and its culture of sexual abuse and homophobia.

New NZDF honest marketing spotted in Wellington: We want you to cover shit up

In the light of the revelations about war crimes and sexual assault all covered up by the NZDF, it seems they are trying an honest approach to marketing NZDF careers. These were spotted near the NZDF offices and on the Terrace today!

Coming up:

3rd November:

Tātarakihi, The Children of Parihaka film screening (venue tbc)
Join Peace Action and Te Tiriti Collective on November 3rd for a screening of this film, which explores the history of Parihaka’s non-violent resistance to the Crown, and the violence it was met with from the colonisers. The 2009 film follows a group of tamariki descended from Parihaka setting off on a journey to learn about their ancestors.

5th November: Parihaka Day
Expect to see these posters out in the streets.

100 posters will be available for pick-up from Stillwaters Community House at 327 Willis Street, Pōneke Wellington, from Mon 15 Oct. If you wish to reserve one please email/text Bronwyn on 022 076 8871.

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Aotearoa and the Arms Trade – public talk & NVDA training

Join us for a public talk Aotearoa and the Arms Trade & non-violent direct action (NVDA) training on Tues 16th October, 6pm, at St John’s in the City (Willis Street). We’re stoked to welcome a special guest speaker MP Golriz Ghahraman.

We’ll be talking about Aotearoa’s involvement in the global arms trade, local arms companies, the upcoming Weapons Expo in Palmerston North and the planned protest against it. The NVDA training will aim to empower and prepare you for any protest! You can find out more on the Facebook event.

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Aotearoa and the Arms Trade is part one of a series of Social Justice Forums from the Wellington Workers’ Educational Association, with forums from People Against Prisons and Wellington Palestine as well – head along to all three events!

After the public talk, everyone is welcome to the Double the Quota celebration party at Meow – celebrating the confirmation that Aotearoa’s refugee quota will (FINALLY) be doubled. Well done to the Doing our Bit campaign for their hard work to make this a reality!

Weapons Expo protest in Palmerston North – 31st Oct & 1st Nov

The main days of protest against the Weapons Expo will be 31st October and 1st November. We’ll be joining Peace Action Manawatū and aiming to disrupt the warmongers as much as possible. If you can go earlier, Peace Action Manawatū have a whole load of events you can join them for! Keep an eye on their Facebook here.

Travel options to Palmerston North
Here are some options for travel to Palmerston North – please let us know by Friday 19th October about your transport needs/offers.

  • Come on our bus: We’re offering transport to Palmerston North, departing evening of Tuesday 30th October and returning late evening Thursday 1st November. If you want to travel with us, please email us.
  • If that doesn’t work for you, let us know: If those times don’t work for you, but you want travel support, please email us when you plan to be there and return. We’ll try to find you a car share or look at other options.
  • Offer a car-share: If you are planning to drive to Palmerston North for the protest and you have space in your car, please email us and let us know when you are travelling there and back, and how many spaces you have to offer.

Accommodation in Palmerston North
Please register with Peace Action Manawatū as soon as possible if you need accommodation in Palmerston North.

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Art as activism and other upcoming events 🎨 🎭 ✌

The Weapons Expo is just around the corner (put the dates in your diary – 30th, 31st October & 1st November!) so we’re getting ready here in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. We’ve got two events coming up in the city, plus more info about what’s being planned, plus getting to Palmerston North for the Weapons Expo Peace Protest. Read on!

Art as Activism – Tuesday 25th September

Join us on Tuesday 25th September, 6pm for Art as Activism to talk about how art and creative responses can be used to protest, mock and disrupt the business of war. We’ll have a bit of a 101 on the arms industry / why its fucked, watch some informative vids, and kōrero about how art and resistance are like cheese on crackers.

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Could this clown be you??! We’ll have a special focus on clowning as a tactic with special guest clown Ingrid Saker, who will help you create your clown persona ready for protesting the Weapons Expo.

Keep an eye on the Facebook event for updates. Feel free to come along even if you’re not super keen on clowning – the kōrero is for everyone.

Aotearoa and the Arms Trade, plus non-violent direct action training – 16th October

We’re teaming up with the Wellington Workers Educational Association to run a public talk on the arms trade globally and locally, the Weapons Expo and resistance to it. We’ll also be running a short non-violent direct action training.

Date: Tuesday 16th October
Time: 6 – 7.30pm
Where: St John’s in the City, Corner of Willis/Dixon Street

Seeds for Peace sown in Palmerston North

Peace Action Manawatū are getting ready for resisting the Weapons Expo! They’re planning a Peace March Against the Arms Trade – join the Facebook event here for updates.

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Roadtrip!

We’re planning a road-trip to Te Papaioea/Palmerston North. Join the Facebook event here if you’re interested in coming along, or email us on peacewellington@riseup.net and let us know how many people and what dates you want to go.

Here we are in Palmy! (definitely not photoshopped).

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Court update!

Court has now finished and a decision is reserved for the end of October when we’ll be in Te Papaioea/Palmy with Peace Action Manawatū, protesting the next Weapons Expo.

Ka whawhai tonu mātou, ake ake ake!

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Solidarity crew with Adi and Gary

Peace activists, Adi Leason and Gary Chiles are charged with obstructing a public way. The charges were brought after a protest against the military weapons industry at the annual Weapons Expo, which was held at the Westpac Stadium in October 2017.

Adi today testified on why he was protesting the Weapons Expo, telling the story of Mamana Bibi. In 2012, she was gardening when a Lockheed Martin manufactured missile was dropped on her by a US drone. She was killed instantly, in front of her grandchildren (http://time.com/4422469/u-s-drone-strikes/). Lockheed Martin are the primary sponsor of the Weapons Expo and make gigantic profits from the arms trade.

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Mamana Bibi’s family

Here is an excerpt from the court transcript:

Q. What did you think about the expo? How did you feel about it?

A. I have deep and grave concerns about this event occurring, particularly the presence of organisations – corporations like Lockheed Martin. I had become quite incensed, I know that’s too strong a word.  No, no, I was deeply disturbed by a report I read, I think I was at home listening to the National Radio and on Radio New Zealand there was a report in 2012, it’s called “Will I Be Next?” and it was report by Amnesty International and it was delivered on National Radio and in that report, it talked about drone strikes in Pakistan.  And the interviewer on the radio went into some detail, read out aspects of the report.  I went and printed a copy of the report and it talked about drone assassinations of innocent civilians in one particular province, just one portion of one province in Pakistan over an 18 month period.  Between four and 600 civilians died.  Detailed stories like Mamama Bidi, a 68 year old woman hoeing ochre in her family garden with her grandchildren.  Her husband’s a school teacher like myself.  Her sons were also school teachers and she’s hoeing in her garden on a blue sky day.  A drone drops out of the sky and two Hellfire missiles hit her and completely dismember her body all over her vegetable garden.   Her grandchildren run to find Nanny and then a second drone sweeps down and strikes the children.  Over the same period, 18 labourers who’d been doing road working all day gather for tea in their tent and two drone strikes hit their tent, all 18 including teenage boys are all killed.  When rescuers come from the nearby village to provide assistance, an additional drone strikes the rescuers, the first responders.  This report went on and on and on and these are devices owned and run and purchased and manufactured by Lockheed Martin who was in attendance at the weapons conference.

Q. So your concerns about those kind of international actions, how does that affect your actions on a day-to-day basis, is this a one-off incident for you or has there been other situations where you have felt compelled to act?

A. Yeah, as an individual I have been moved, my conscience has been moved and moved me to act. Sometimes it’s been slow, I’ve had to gather courage because it’s uncomfortable to leave my classroom and leave my small farm and do things that are problematic and so sometimes there has been a delay as I’ve gathered courage to maybe disrupt the weapons industry, to disrupt the smooth running of these war machines.  Machines that cost the planet $1.7 trillion a year.  So the weapons industry, as represented at this gathering, down the road here, 1.7 trillion, that’s $1,700 billion every year spent on weapons, and that’s just the running of the war machines.  When a specific war comes up that’ll be an extra, like the Iraq war was an extra $3 trillion and Afghanistan, significant money as well, so these are horrendous atrocities, war crimes, crimes against humanity, just by the spending of the money apart from the destructive power of the munitions, it’s actually the loss to society.

Q. So what were you hoping to achieve by being at the stadium on the 10thof October last year?

A. I was wanting to disrupt the delegates from their activities, recognising that they are responsible for so many of our worries, they’re making, personally, individually, they’re making fantastic salaries. So they’re personally getting rich from their activities and planning, selling, buying, making enormous wealth for their companies.  And so as a Catholic, a Christian activist, as a humanitarian, I wanted to disrupt this because my conscience would not let me just stay home and sleep easily in my bed while there’s something happening in my town.  I can’t do much about Iraq right now or Syria or any of the other places, but when there’s something happening in my own backyard all my excuses don’t stack up, I have to get involved.

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