Media Release: Peace Activists to Court While Te Papa Rolls in Profits from Another Weapons Conference
Date: Mon, December 5 2005
Six of the twenty Wellington peace activists arrested outside Te Papa on 18th October will appear in the Wellington District Court tomorrow, facing charges of obstruction, trespass and assault. The arrests occurred during protest action outside the New Zealand Defence Industry Association’s (NZDIA) Conference, held at Te Papa for a third year in a row.
“As usual, the Police engaged in brutal and unmitigated force. It’s ironic that they used such force against us for protesting outside a weapons conference, being held at the national museum,” said Valerie Morse, spokesperson for Peace Action Wellington. “What’s more ironic is that we’re the ones appearing in court and being charged with assault and for trespassing on publicly owned property.” Through its No Arms Race at Our Place Campaign, Peace Action Wellington placed numerous amounts of pressure on Te Papa to cancel its contract with the NZDIA, yet Te Papa turned a blind eye to letters, personal complaints, a petition, emails, and faxes from members of the community.
“Te Papa put income and profit ahead of cancelling its contract with the defence industry’s weapons conference. The Museum of New Zealand Act 1992 (section 8c) states that a museum has the responsibility to ensure that it is a source of pride for all New Zealanders. How can this be the case when Te Papa is profiting from an industry which relies on and gains from human and social destruction?”
NZDIA member companies are participants in a world-wide weapons industry. Some companies have received taxpayer funded grants through Trade and Enterprise New Zealand, and products promoted at recent conferences have included grenades, weapons firing control systems, shoot-to-kill training equipment, ‘special purpose’ munitions, and aerial bombing score systems.
“We long for the day when Te Papa is not used as a venue for the weapons industry conference, when these companies are exposed and shut down for the murderous business that they are engaged in, and when peace activists are not violently arrested and charged for exposing the dirty work of these companies,” said Ms Morse.
Members of the public are urged to show their support for the peace activists appearing in court tomorrow (Tuesday 6 th December) and the Peace Action Wellington campaign by going along to the Wellington District Court (43-49 Balance Street) at 10am.
Media Release: No arms race at ‘Our Place’
Date: Mon, October 17 2005
The annual Defence Industry Conference is scheduled for October 18 and 19 at Te Papa. Peace Action Wellington has been actively campaigning to stop this conference and a range of actions are planned for the days of the conference. There will be a public protest starting from Civic Square at 12:30pm on October 18 that will include an invasion staged by the Revolutionary Clown Army.
“It is deeply offensive that a weapons conference is being hosted at the same institution as some of Aotearoa’s most valuable taonga. ‘Our place’ is no place for an arms fair. The Museum of New Zealand Act of 1992 says that it has a responsibility to ensure that the Museum is a source of pride for all New Zealanders. But how can we be proud of a place that hosts a weapons conference?” said Peace Action Wellington member Valerie Morse.
The Defence Industry Association is comprised of New Zealand companies involved in the manufacture of a wide variety of military-related hardware. Some of the companies are subsidiaries of multinational corporations involved in the nuclear weapons industry overseas.
“The Government has been supporting defence related businesses with grants from Trade and Enterprise. In 2003, Flexisolutions was awarded $100,000 to develop the jungle-sweeper grenade. It is totally contradictory for the NZ Government to claim it is acting as a good international citizen in peacekeeping missions while it is simultaneously supporting the development of an arms trade.”
The annual conference is not just a meeting of members. Delegates at the 2003 conference included representatives from General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin, two of the world’s largest manufacturers of arms including ballistic missiles. Other delegates of note included representatives from Halliburton, Sikorsky Helicopter and the US Army.
Peace Action is working to end the use of Te Papa as a conference venue for this annual meeting. Similarly, we are campaigning against the use of tax-payer money to fund weapons’ research and development.
Ultimately, we want an end to any arms trade in NZ
Attached Fact Sheet -Attendees at the 2003 conference included Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s largest weapons manufacturers. Lockheed makes * Air-to-Air Missiles * Anti-Armor Missiles * Fire Support * Precision Strike * Strategic Systems – New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, the Government’s Trade Agency, is actively involved in seeking to expand NZ’s share of the US ‘homeland security’ market. “As well as the on-going needs of the US military, there’s an immediate need for off-the-shelf products for Homeland Security at federal, state and local levels” http://www.nzte.govt.nz/section/11894/11645.aspx NZDIA member companies include: – Oscmar International Ltd, Auckland HQ – ‘realistic’ shoot-to-kill laser training equipment, including equipment for use in urban warfare training centres; infantry weapons effects simulators, shoulder launched anti-tank weapon simulators, land mines effects simulators, and more – “a world leader in the field of Realistic Combat Simulation” … They have exported more than 60,000 simulators to 15 countries; including Australia, Thailand, Denmark, India, and France. There have been reports that Oscmar have sold more than 9,000 simulator sets to the Indonesian armed forces. – Marine Air Systems, Lower Hutt – manufacture weapons firing control systems, communication systems for mortar and artillery batteries, remote detonation systems, devices for remote initiation of explosives and pyrotechnics for battlefield ‘inoculation’ exercises, and armed forces command and control systems. Their products include the Vanguard artillery computer, the Morfire hand held IBM compatible battlefield computer which “puts the future of the mortar into the palm of your hand”; the Bullseye aerial bombing scoring system; the Swordfish system for the demolition of underwater obstacles and targets in shallow waters; MAS Burst Radio modems for military HF, VHF, and UHF radios to connect battlefield computer systems; and more. Marine Air Systems is part of the British based Hall and Watts Defence Group. -Every day, on average close to thirty one and a half thousand children under the age of five die from disease and malnutrition because of lack of access to clean water, food or basic health care. Every day, global military expenditure averages out to more than $2.63 billion (US).
Media Release: Te Papa should learn from history: War kills!
Date: 15 July, 2005
Te Papa’s decision to host the New Zealand Defence Industry Association (euphemism for weapons industry) Conference in October this year is an obvious sign that they need to delve back into their history books and read more about the atrocities of war says Peace Action Wellington (PAW).
“In light of this decision, PAW will be taking up a public and peace education role on the forecourt of Te Papa this Saturday (16th July), to raise awareness about how New Zealand companies profit from the manufacture of weapons and infrastructure for war,” said PAW spokesperson, Kane O’Connell.
“Not only are we committed to this role in our national museum’s absence, but the first weekend of the school holidays provides an opportune time for us to go down there and share our anti-war and peace resources with visitors.”
“We will have balloons, a petition, face-painting, an open letter to Helen Clark, educational leaflets, a sheet to paint and write anti-war messages on, badges, as well as a make your own peace badge station,” said O’Connell. This is the third year in a row that Te Papa has allowed the NZDIA to hold their conference at Our Place. Te Papa is a Crown Entity and the responsible Minister is Helen Clark, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.
According to the Te Papa official website, “Te Papa’s key tasks are to preserve and present the taonga (treasures) of New Zealand’s people and to interpret the country’s heritage.” The Museum of New Zealand Act 1992 (section 8c) states that a museum has the responsibility to ensure that it is a source of pride for all New Zealanders.
“We’d like to know how hosting a conference dedicated to weapons and an industry that contributes to death and destruction ensures that Te Papa is a source of pride,” asked O’Connell.
“Products promoted at recent conferences have included grenades, weapons firing control systems, shoot-to-kill training equipment, ‘special purpose’ munitions, and aerial bombing score systems. We all know from history, and so should Te Papa, that the use of such materials has led to death and destruction for peoples in societies all across the world,” said Kane O’Connell.
Peace Action Wellington calls on Te Papa: Our Place to put the interests of peace before profit and inform the New Zealand Defence Industry Association that they are not welcome at Te Papa: Our Place in October.
Media Release: SAS to Afghanistan shameful
Date: June 1, 2005
‘The deployment of more Special Air Service (SAS) troops to Afghanistan is shameful. Prime Minister Helen Clark is helping the US military in committing human rights violations and illegally occupying the country’ said Peace Action Wellington member Valerie Morse
The SAS have been deployed to Afghanistan on two previous occassions since the start of the so-called ‘War on Terrorism’. In both instances, they participated in ‘direct action missions’ which translates to combat involving the death of civilians. In June of 2004, one SAS soldier was injured in a gun battle.
‘The US occupation of Afghanistan is a stunning failure. The country is no better off than it was under the Taliban. Four years of war and the country is in ruins, political stability is as far away as ever. Woman and children are being killed, opium production is soaring and US war profiteers are making a killing. Meanwhile, the people of Afghanistan are being murdered on a daily basis. At one point, an average of 62 innocent civilans a day were being killed in Afghanistan by Bush’s coalition of the willing.’
‘The New Zealand Defence Force must refuse to fight in these illegal wars of occupation involving gross human rights violations. The Prime Minister is using them as a political tool to advance her free trade agenda. The losers are the Afghani people and the soldiers who come home in body bags’
Media Release: War mongers at Te Papa
Date: Friday, April 2
The NZDF activities on Te Papa’s forecourt on Sunday from 11-1pm will be met with peace actions aimed at educating and informing parents as to the reality of a career in the military. Te Papa, the nation’s museum is hosting ‘military week’ this week. ‘The activities planned target children in what appears to be a concerted recruitment drive by the NZDF’ said Valerie Morse, member of Peace Action Wellington.
Advertisements read: ‘learn how soldiers go on reconnaissance to gather military information and identify distant targets’ and then go on to read, ‘Have you got what it takes?’ Many in the NZDF do have ‘what it takes.’ The SAS (Special Air Service) was deployed to Afghanistan to conduct secret missions potentially involving civilan deaths. The Prime Minister said they were involved in Afghanistan to conduct raids, ambushes, direct assaults, attacks from the air, ground and sea, guide ?precision weaponry?, conduct independent sabotage and ?anti-ship? operations.
The NZDF is keen to bolster its numbers. Its 2004 financial review tabled to the Defence, Foreign Affairs and Trade select committee says that ‘The popular perception of the armed forces is of concern and recruiters are looking at ways to improve their image.’ Refusing to serve in illegal invasions of other countries would be the first step to improving their image. They can also stop recruiting six-year olds.
Members of the public are invited to join Peace Action’s opposition to New Zealand’s involvement in the US occupation of Afghanistan.
Media Release: Two years on, where to next?
Date: Wednesday, March 16, 2005
This Saturday, March 19, Peace Action Wellington invites the people of Wellington to mark the second anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq with a Peace and Justice parade. The parade leaves Civic Square at 12 noon and will go to the United States Embassy where we will occupy the area overnight in a show of solidarity.
‘The War on Terrorism is a phony war against the people of the Middle East. It has increased the liklihood of terrorism by increasing the suffering of the people there. Millions have been killed in years of sanctions, bombing raids and poisoning of the land, air and water in both Iraq and Afghanistan.’ said Valerie Morse, member of Peace Action.
‘Now the United States is threatening both Iran and Syria and war plans for futher invasions already exist. This so-called ‘War’ is a nothing short of colonial invasion for the benefit of corporate exploitation. Iraq’s national assets have been sold off to the highest bidder, and the people there no longer have any control over their own resources.’
‘It is imperative that we demonstrate that genocide, torture and exploitation will not be tolerated. Please join us on Saturday with you banners, placards, costumes and voices for the parade.’