October 10, 2017, 11am
Peace activists have gathered at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington to blockade the annual NZDIA Weapons Expo.
Around 200 people were onsite to protest the event before 7am this morning. The car ramp to the vehicle entrance was blocked off, with banners attached to people who had climbed lampposts. Police were advised that any attempt to remove the banners would result in the climbers falling.
Protesters have blocked off all entrances to the venue.The majority of delegates have been unable to access the venue as of 11 am.
“We’re here to stay. We think it’s totally unethical that New Zealand plays host to a Weapons Expo, and we’re not leaving until the weapons dealers do,” said Peace Action Wellington spokesperson Jessie Dennis.
“The Weapons Expo is a trade fair for some of the biggest arms companies in the world. The delegates attending would have us believe that the products on sale and the deals being done at the Expo are somehow benign. But make no mistake, these are weapons and military hardware that play their part in the global war machine.”
Six protesters have been violently arrested so far.
“We’re unsurprised that the Wellington police are once more protecting the interests of businesses, even deeply unethical businesses, at the expense of the right of ordinary people to protest peacefully,” said Dennis.
“We’re concerned to hear not only of violent arrests but of sexual harassment of protesters by police.”
The blockade received the support of Green MPs Chloe Swarbrick and Thomas Nash, who recently won Nobel peace prize for his work with The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. “We in this country have a strong kaupapa for peace,” said Thomas.
“We’re standing strong,” said Jessie Dennis. “Groups from all over New Zealand have come together for this blockade, from Auckland Peace Action, Peace Action Hamilton, People Against Prisons Aotearoa, Palestine Solidarity Network, Whanganui Positive Activists, It’s Our Future Manawatu, Oil Free Wellington, Unions Wellington, Pacific Panthers, Quakers and Catholic Workers.”