Peace protesters get the go-ahead from Westpac Stadium CEO

Peace Action Wellington met with Wellington Regional Trust CEO, Shane Harmon, last week to discuss their protest outside the Weapons Expo at the Westpac Stadium on October 10 and 11.

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“After our meeting with Mayor Justin Lester where he agreed to ban the Weapons Expo from council venues, he passed on our contacts to Shane Harmon at the Westpac Stadium. Although we were initially surprised to hear from Shane, we were pleased to be able to offer him a different perspective from the arms industry lobby group, the NZ Defence Industry Association,” said Peace Action spokesperson, Alex Davis.

Harmon said that he respects the right to protest the Weapons Expo on the walkway outside the main gates of the stadium.

“While we hope this means that there won’t be a repeat of the arbitrary arrests in 2015 and everyone’s right to protest will be respected, it is not enough. The Cake Tin is an iconic venue, more suited to family-friendly sporting events and concerts. It should not be tarnished by association with the business of war,” Davis said.

Although Mayor Justin Lester agreed to ban the Weapons Expo from council-controlled venues, his decision does not include the Westpac Stadium, which is owned and operated by the Wellington Regional Stadium Trust. The Trust is jointly settled by Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council. Peace Action believe that the Trust should remain accountable to ratepayers.

“The Weapons Expo’s main sponsor is Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest arms company and manufacturer of nuclear weapons. Their weapons rain down on the people of Yemen, Iraq and Syria, contributing to the global refugee crisis,” continued Davis.

Another Weapons Expo attendee will be arms dealer MAS Zengrange. Based in Lower Hutt, MAS Zengrange sell mortar firing devices to Saudi Arabia, who has in turn been conducting a bombing campaign against civilians in Yemen.

Furthermore, attendee Pacific Aerospace, based in Hamilton, is currently under investigation for unlawful exports after their plane ended up in North Korea in a clear violation of UN sanctions.

Davis said, “War starts where weapons are made and sold. It’s not okay that they are manufactured here in Aotearoa, or that deals for death and destruction are made in our cities. People are coming from all around the country for the protest and we will be gathering together to show war profiteers that their destructive businesses are not welcome here.”

For more information visit our website: http://www.stopthearmstrade.nz

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