Stop the Weapons Expo 2017 Campaign Launch

Today we launched a campaign of resistance to the upcoming Weapons Expo, coming up at the Westpac Stadium on 10-11th October. The campaign has begun with a striking art piece that questions, “how close does war have to get before it makes you uncomfortable?”

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Placed outside Parliament and on Civic Square, a sculpture of an unexploded ordnance gave the impression that Wellington was under attack. It aimed to make people stop and question how comfortable they really are with the presence of weapons of war in their city.

The Weapons Expo is an annual event held by the New Zealand Defence Industry Association (NZDIA), the national arms trade lobbying organisation. NZDIA companies make and sell weapons for use in wars globally. Furthermore, the Weapons Expo’s primary sponsor is Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest arms manufacturer, who also build nuclear weapons. Local arms companies such as Lower Hutt’s MAS Zengrange will also be in attendance, aiming to build the market for their mortar firing systems.

In the 2016/17 budget the New Zealand government pledged $20 billion of taxpayer’s money to military spending. Undoubtedly, arms dealing attendees of the Weapons Expo will be looking forward to grabbing some of these contracts. 2017 marks 20 years of the Weapons Expo directly profiting from war.

Guns were also placed on statues around town to grab the public’s attention.

This year, we were outraged to hear that the Weapons Expo will take place in Te Whanganui-a-Tara in a council-owned venue, the Westpac Stadium, on 10-11 October. Peace Action Wellington and the Wellington community pledge to continue opposing the Weapons Expo and arms trade, especially at a time when the rising threat of war makes ending the arms trade particularly urgent.

“War starts here in Wellington when we allow arms to be traded and dirty deals to be made. We need to stop it here, ” said PAW spokesperson Alex Davis.

“A new sculpture commemorating British and Kiwi deaths in conflict will be unveiled by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tomorrow at Pukeahu. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate for the British and New Zealand governments to commit to removing themselves from the wars they’re involved in and ending the arms trade in their various countries? Until we commit to ending wars everywhere, we can’t really say we’re commemorating all those lost to war – we’re just repeating the mistakes of the past.”

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The Weapons Expo has been opposed by the people of Aotearoa for over 10 years. In 2016, Auckland Peace Action’s blockade locked weapons traders out of the expo, halting the business of war. 4000 New Zealanders signed a petition against the Expo.

Peace Action Wellington invite groups and individuals who oppose the arms trade to join us to shut down the Weapons Expo once and for all. Sign the petition opposing the Weapons Expo or get in touch if you want to join the resistance.

To find out more about the arms trade, or how to get involved in the resistance to this years expo visit www.stopthearmstrade.nz.

A mysterious ordnance struck Wellington. Is there a connection to the upcoming NZDIA Weapons Expo? Laura Biding reports for What The H*ck News.

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