Media Release: Police break peace activist’s arm as resistance to Weapons Expo grows
6 November 2018
Police broke a peace activist’s arm in two places pushing her to the ground on the second day of peaceful protest against the Weapons Expo in Palmerston North.
Kerry Tankard of Hamilton is suffering from ongoing pain and limited use of her hand for daily tasks like tying her shoes and zipping up her coat. Tankard was standing on the footpath with a small group of people who were supporting an activist on the roof of a bus when the police decided to push them. Tankard was roughly pushed to the ground and knew immediately that her arm was broken.
“They were all pretty rough with us but this one cop pushed Kerry really hard and she fell down. At that point most of the cops backed off and a bunch of us tried to help her up. But Kerry shouted “Don’t move me, I think they broke my rist.” said Sandani Wijetunge.
Police continued to forcibly move the group after they were aware that Tankard’s wrist was probably broken and an ambulance had been called.
“We tried to create a circle around her but the police were shouting at us and telling us to move. Kerry insisted that she was in pain and did not want to be moved by anyone who doesn’t know first aid. The police didn’t listen and forcibly picked her up and moved her to the other side of the line of cops as she was screaming. I didn’t see much after that.
The ambulance came to get her within 10 minutes. It was really brutal and pointless moving her when she was injured like that.” Wijetunge said.
The broken arm was not the only injury police caused over the course of the peaceful protest against the Weapons Expo. Police also concussed another woman as they pushed her to the ground on Wednesday.
Peace Action Wellington spokesperson Alex Davis said “Police budgeted some $250,000 and 180 police for this event. That is a small army. They acted as overzealous private security guards for weapons dealers who had little regard for the safety or rights of protesters.”
“We know that the police investigation will exonerate the officer. The police repeatedly fail to hold themselves accountable for their violence. Last year the IPCA responded to sexual harassment complaints by suggesting that women were walking into officers hands with their breasts. There is no justice to be found in these organisations.” Davis said.
“While we were protesting, the weapons manufactured by companies inside the Weapons Expo were being used to kill people around the world. War starts in places like Aotearoa where these tools are sold. New Zealanders would be horrified to know of our complicity in the killing of civilians around the world – we have to shut down the weapons trade.”
“We need to understand that major weapons companies don’t just do business with the military. The NZ Police also have an ongoing contract with global arms dealer Lockheed Martin. The so-called “security and defence” industry has infected our society and public services, and promulgates a dangerous narrative of fear and insecurity that is good for their war business.” said Davis.
Media Release: Weapons Expo protest road closed by Council and Police
Palmerston North Council have announced that they will block roads and
restrict access to the area around the Central Energy Trust Arena during
the Weapons Expo at the end of this month. Earlier this week Palmerston
North Manager of Venues, John Lynch, sent a letter to all Waldegrave
Street residents saying that staffed checkpoints would be set up and
only residents would be let through.
“This is a clear attempt to impede the protest march planned by Peace
Action Manawatū and prevent the people of Palmerston North from
expressing their views about weapons dealers being hosted in their city
venues.”said Alex Davis, spokesperson of Peace Action Wellington.
“This weapons trade fair has already been driven out of Wellington and
Auckland because of widespread opposition to people who profit from war.
The Palmerston North City Council know that opposition to the Weapons
Expo is growing in their city. This outrageous action is anti-democratic
and prioritises big businesses over the wishes of the community they are
meant to represent. The Council do not have the right to restrict access
to public spaces just to prevent legitimate peaceful protest from
occurring” said Davis.
The Weapons Expo is a trade fair for major weapons companies, including
Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Thales and Northrup Grumman. These
companies come together at the Expo each year to showcase their latest
weapons and surveillance equipment.
Under the Local Government Act the Council must consult with Police
before blocking roads. In 2017 Police repeatedly stopped traffic on
Aotea Quay, one of the main roads into Wellington, to escort delegates
into the Weapons Expo.
“We question the discriminatory role of the Police in planning this
event and ask why they choose to act as private security for weapons
dealers and restrict access to public roads when they are meant to be
impartial.” said Davis.
“After Wellington District Court found that the Police illegally
arrested protesters in 2015, Police should be more conscious of the need
to allow people to express their political views and should not endorse
any plan that disproportionately limits our freedom of speech. We are
calling on the Council and Police to stop this violation of rights and
lift these illegal restrictions.” Davis said.
“People around the country see the effects of war from our screens, we
know it’s harming people. It is important that we be allowed to push the
kaupapa of peace and target these people who make billions of dollars
from weapons and cause death, displacement and environmental
destruction. We want to shut down these companies to make the world a
better and safer place,” said Peace Action Wellington spokesperson
Media Release: Wellington peace activists in court for Weapons Expo protest
Two peace activists will face a three-day trial beginning on 17 September at Wellington District Court. Defendants Adi Leason, of the Waihopai Three, 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.
This year the Weapons Expo will move to Palmerston North from Wellington following successful community protests that have disrupted the weapons industry event since 2015. Resistance to the Weapons Expo is already building in Palmerston North where local government councillors last week debated whether the event clashes with their ‘Peace City’ status.
Both activists continue to be committed to protesting the Weapons Expo
and other NZ involvement in war.
“While we were protesting, the weapons manufactured by companies inside the Weapons Expo were being used to kill people around the world. War starts in places like this where these tools of death are sold. New Zealanders would be horrified to know of our complicity in the killing of civilians around the world – we have to shut down the arms trade.”
Peace Action Wellington spokesperson Alex Davis today celebrated the move of the Weapons Expo: “The fact that the organisers are moving the Weapons Expo to Palmerston North is a huge victory for us – it shows that arms dealers are no longer welcome in our capital city! Mayor Justin Lester’s decision to ban them from council venues, along with the huge community mobilisation against these warmongers has meant they’ve had to retreat to Te Papaioea, Palmerston North. We’ll be joining the resistance to the Weapons Expo this year for a Week of Peace between the 24th October – 1st November, alongside the local community in Palmerston North, who have formed a new group Peace Action Manawatū.”
Media Release: Palestinians massacred in Gaza while Doc Edge film interrupted in Wellington
15 May 2018
Today marks 70 years since the newly-formed state of Israel ‘ethnically cleansed’ Palestinian people and stole their lands. Yesterday in Palestine, tens of thousands of Palestinian people marked this anniversary. More than 55, including children, were killed while peacefully protesting.
Last night in Wellington, Peace Action Wellington held a protest at a Documentary Edge screening of Ben Gurion: Epilogue. This film received Israeli government funding for its production, as well as sponsorship from the NZ Israeli Embassy for the filmmaker to travel here. The filmmaker is not therefore an ‘independent’ filmmaker but a state-sponsored one. This is in clear breach of the Palestinian-led cultural boycott, which is similar to the boycott of South African apartheid.
“Doc Edge screening the film on this date, with Israeli government funding, ignores the 70 years of oppression and apartheid that the Palestinian people have been subjected to,” said Peace Action Wellington spokesperson, Alex Davis.
One protester talked about the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and ongoing land theft as they introduced the film before it started. Cinema staff grabbed the protester and dragged them from the cinema. After the film started protesters disrupted the screening with noise and talked about the atrocities Israel is committing against the Palestinian people. One protester was assaulted by two cinema-goers who jumped on her and hit her in the head as she was filming. Other patrons intervened to prevent the assault.
“People keep talking about us censoring this film. But there are two issues here: first, screening the film on this date is a political move, and Palestinians are being killed right now because of the ongoing project of ethnic cleansing that started 70 years ago; and second, the government funding breaks the boycott of Israel. We wouldn’t have had a problem with the movie if it hadn’t been on this date and hadn’t had Israeli government funding. The funding generally means that artists sign an agreement to represent the Israeli Government and everything that comes with that – apartheid, oppression and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. We think it’s time for Doc Edge to cut all ties with the Israeli government.”, said Davis.
“People didn’t like being made to feel uncomfortable when there were protests against South African apartheid either. But now people look back and are proud that New Zealand took a stance. We want Aotearoa to stand against apartheid once again”, Davis said.
“We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people on this, the 70th year since al-Nakba, the Catastrophe. We stand alongside Palestinians by continuing to demand the end to oppression, the blockade of Gaza and apartheid, as well as their right of return to their lands. We choose to do this through respecting the non-violent call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. At least 55 Palestinians were killed yesterday in Gaza – that’s what’s important here.”, said Davis.
Ben Gurion was the first Prime Minister of the new state of Israel,which was built on the razed villages and mass graves of the Palestinians. He was known for his strident support for the Israeli state at the expense of the Palestinian people of the land, and in 1948, just after the initial ethnic cleansing, wrote “We must do everything to ensure they (the Palestinians) never do return.”
Media release: Doc Edge Festival supporting apartheid Israel – protest planned
Sunday 13 May
Peace Action Wellington and Auckland Peace Action are calling for Doc Edge Festival to drop screenings of a film they say supports apartheid in Israel. The groups plan to protest the screenings if Documentary Edge Festival do not respect the Palestinian led boycott of Israel.
“Ben-Gurion, Epilogue, a film about Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion, celebrates the founding of the apartheid Israeli state” said Peace Action Wellington spokesperson, Alex Davies. “This is state-sponsored propaganda the festival are planning to screen at the expense of people living under a brutal and illegal occupation,” said Davies.
The film is to be shown at the Roxy Cinema in Wellington on May 14, the day before the anniversary of the Nakba, ‘the Day of Catastrophe’, where Palestinians were massacred and forcibly expelled from their villages. Peace Action Wellington have called for a protest outside the screening on May 14 if it goes ahead.
“The Doc Edge programming team are aware that in response to the ongoing land theft and killing of Palestinians there is a boycott of Israeli government-sponsored performances. Unfortunately, festival organisers haven’t engaged with our concerns in any meaningful way as yet,” said Davies, “But it is clearly wrong to allow the festival to be used as a platform for apartheid.”
This year, New Zealand icon Lorde cancelled her concert in Tel Aviv after learning about the campaign in order to respect the cultural boycott.
“This country took a stand against apartheid in South Africa and it’s time for us to do the same to support the Palestinian struggle for freedom,” Davies said. “Israel is still stealing land from the Palestinian people and there are many racist laws and policies that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel – this adds up to apartheid.”
“Withdrawing the film requires courage but it is the right thing to do and will show that the Doc Edge Film Festival will not be used as a vehicle for racist propaganda” said Davies.
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Media release: Peace groups will remember civilians at Anzac day events
Tuesday, April 24
Peace Action Wellington and friends will join Anzac day events in
Wellington to remember civilian casualties of war. We will call for an
end to war, and will honour all civilians casualties with a respectful
presence at the dawn service at Pukeahu and at the Wellington Citizens’
Wreath-laying Service at the Cenotaph at 9am.
“We will be laying a wreath for civilian casualties of war because all
loss of life in war is abhorrent.” said spokesperson, Laura Drew. Peace
Action Wellington will be laying a wreath alongside other peace groups
who will be laying wreaths for conscientious objectors, the Afghan
people killed in Operation Burnham, and the people killed by ANZAC
soldiers in the Surafend Massacre in Palestine, 1918.
“In the past four years we have seen an increasing obsession with Anzac day. This came to a head around the First World War centenary. Anzacs continue to be heavily romanticised as heroes and the protagonists of the historical New Zealand war narrative. However, selective commemoration can alter our view of history, and whose lives we deem to be important. On this day of remembrance it’s important we remember all aspects of war, including the civilian casualties and those that opposed it.”, said spokesperson, Alex Davies.
“We cannot separate commemorations of the past from the contemporary
wars we participate in. Anzac day is a day to remember and reflect, we
should be able to think critically and question how as a country we can
be actively working towards peace.”, said Davies.
The government has finally begun an inquiry into the SAS lead Operation
Burnham in Afghanistan and commemorations of the New Zealand Land Wars,
both of which have only happened because citizens have stood up and
requested it. Peace Action Wellington hopes that this reflection means
we can move forward and actively work towards full demilitarisation.
“When we lay our wreath we will also be remembering the more than
100,000 civilians that have died in Syria. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
misspoke when she said that New Zealand ‘accepted’ the bombing of Syria
by the US, UK and France. Many New Zealanders would prefer that our
country took a stand for peace and led the way on international
demilitarisation and non-violent diplomacy.”, Davies said.
During her first foreign policy speech in February this year Ardern said that New Zealand, “Must recommit ourselves to the cause of non-proliferation and disarmament, and to the norms and rules which support those endeavours.” Actions speak louder than words, however. Peace Action Wellington calls on our government to end all New Zealand support and involvement in foreign conflicts including Afghanistan.
“When we say ‘Never again’, we should mean it.”, said Davies.