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.
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.