2015 Press releases

Media Release: 27 arrested will defend charges
From Peace Action Wellington
Date: Monday 23 November

The 27 people arrested blockading the weapons conference in Wellington last week appeared in the Wellington District Court this morning and have said that they will defend the charges against them.

“All of us are firmly of the view that the crimes going on at the weapons conference were the ones inside the where the companies were busy making deals to sell more weapons. The people blockading took non-violent direct action to stop the proliferation of more death and destruction,” said Peace Action Wellington member and arrestee Valerie Morse.

“Following the arrests, most of the people were told that they would be issued with a warning instead of being charged. The police, however, changed their minds and instead decided to charge people with minor offences simply so they could impose bail conditions on them prohibiting them from returning to the TSB Arena where the weapons conference was being held. The police were instrumental in shutting down the right to freedom of speech and protest for all of these people, even though they had done nothing wrong.”

“Many of the arrestees were simply the easiest targets for police because they were standing apart from the main blockade, often out of a desire to avoid being arrested. The police then did not file the charges with the court until today so these restrictive bail conditions could not be challenged while the weapons conference was still going on.”

“This court case is just an attempt to silence people and intimidate them into not participating in political activity.”

“The campaigns against the weapons conference and NZ’s participation in the now 14-year-old war on terrorism will continue. Einstein said, ‘We cannot simultaneously prepare and prevent war’ and yet world leaders seem to think that they can bomb the world to peace.”

The next court date is Monday, 18 February at 10am.

Stockmarket reaction vindicates blockade of weapons conference
From: Peace Action Wellington
20/11/2015

Wellington anti-war activists say that their blockade of the Defence Industry Association´s (DIA) annual conference was more than justified in light of the rise in 3.5% of Lockheed Martin´s share price on Monday.

“The fact that the shares of major weapons manufacturers soared following the deadly attacks in Paris shows how much these companies profit from death and destruction. This is why a hundred and fifty people disrupted the weapons conference in Wellington on Tuesday,” said Peace Action Wellington member Valerie Morse.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee had stated on Tuesday that delegates were not discussing the business of war. He also said none of the companies at the conference supplied weapons or arms to the defence force.

Lockheed Martin, the world´s largest weapons manufacturer, was the principal sponsor of the conference and holds a NZ$400m contract to refurbish NZ´s frigates. Other sponsors included General Dynamics, Thales and CAE.

“Who does Gerry Brownlee think he is fooling when he says that the weapons conference is concerned with paper cups and socks? Or is he suggesting that the frigates will be armed solely with wool products?” Ms Morse said.

“The public know as well as the delegates that the conference was all about making money from war – and people have made it clear that they find this unacceptable. More than 1000 people signed a petition asking the council, which owns the TSB Arena, to stop the conference and 150 turned up to protest on the day.”

“War is not just another business and people should not have been arrested for trying to shut down what is an immoral and illegitimate activity,” Ms Morse concluded.

The twitter hashtag #StopWeaponsConf was among the trending topics on Tuesday.

No party for Weapons dealers
Peace Action Wellington
18 November 2015

“There will be a block party at the TSB Arena today to block the activities of weapons dealers attempting to attend their annual awards dinner. The block party begins at 6pm under the sails, and Peace Action Wellington invites everyone who is concerned about the proliferation of weapons and war to come along,” said Valerie Morse, member of Peace Action Wellington

“The Minister of Defence yesterday said no conference attendees were supplying weapons to the NZDF. I might remind the Minister about the $446 million contract with Lockheed Martin for an upgrade of the frigates that includes a new missile system. Lockheed is the prime contractor for the project and is the world’s largest weapons manufacturer. Warships are most definitely weapons.”

“The weapons conference dinner gives awards for best weapons contractor to the NZ Defence Force. It is disgusting and reprehensible to reward companies that trade in killing and death. The business of war is not legitimate business, and having a party to celebrate it is repugnant.”

“Yesterday, there were 26 people brutally and unjustifiably arrested for standing up to stop the international arms trade. This is an attempt to shut down free speech against some of the world’s most powerful companies. More people will join us today to stand up again.”

Media Release: NZ Weapons Conference sponsors tied to illegal US drone war
From: Peace Action Wellington
Date: 18 October 2015

Lockheed Martin, the major sponsor of next month’s Weapons Conference at the TSB Arena in Wellington, manufacturers the Hellfire missiles fired by drone aircraft. CAE, also a major sponsor of next month’s conference, is responsible for training the drone pilots, This information has come to light as part of a large number of classified documents leaked to news organisation, The Intercept, that show the extent of the US drone assassination programme throughout Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq and the Horn of Africa.” said Valerie Morse, member of Peace Action Wellington.

“We don’t believe in assassinating people with drones, and we don’t want the companies responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent people around the world to feel comfortable holding a large arms fair to showcase their wares. Companies that profit from war and murder have no place in a civilised society. Theirs is the business of death and destruction for profit.”

Thousands of civilians have been murdered by the United States military operating these invisible drones that hang over large areas of the Middle East and North Africa. The drone assassination campaign has been called a “global killing campaign” by Amnesty International that says, “the USA has systematically violated international law, including by classifying unidentified people as ‘combatants’ to justify their killings.”

CAE likes to boast about its role:

CAE is responsible for delivering aircrew training to more than 1,500 U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper pilots and sensor operators annually. CAE provides academic (classroom), simulator, and live flying instruction on the USAF MQ-1/MQ-9 program, which is the world’s largest remotely piloted aircraft training program.”

Peace Action Wellington is organising a community blockade to shut down the conference and encouraging people to take the day off from work or school to stand up for peace and justice. We invite all concerned people – young and old – to join us on the 17th and 18th of November.”

Media Release: Council Chair shuts down debate on weapons conference

Date: 13 October 2015

The Chair of the Wellington City Council’s Economic Growth and Arts Committee has today refused permission to debate a petition which was presented by members of the grassroots group Peace Action Wellington.

The petition, signed by 1,000 Wellingtonians, calls on the City Council to oppose the upcoming weapons conference which is being held in a council owned venue, the TSB Arena on 17th and 18th of November.

This happened despite pleas across the council table that the issue be debated.

Peace Action Wellington spokesperson James Barber says, “it is a travesty that the city council, which declares itself nuclear free and a peace city, is hosting a conference promoting the weapons trade.”

“This has happened despite despite prior arrangement with council staff and democratic services for us to present this petition. We are calling on the city council to request that the Chief Executive of Positively Wellington Venues refuse further booking from the weapons industry.”

“Chair Jo Coughlan’s refusal to debate the petition is not only disrespectful to the group but to the thousand people who have signed their names opposing the weapons conference,” says James.

Media Release: Refugee crisis result from US wars
Date: 7 September 2015

Over the past week, the world has become acutely aware of the plight of people fleeing from wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

“New Zealanders have sought to open their homes to refugees and are demanding an immediate expansion in the number of people accepted here for resettlement. This is fantastic,” said Peace Action Wellington member Valerie Morse

“At this stage, it is critical that we extend not only our empathy and compassion to those seeking to escape from war, but we examine the West’s participation in creating the disaster in the first place.”

“For more than 14 years, New Zealand has been at war alongside the US in Afghanistan. The GCSB and NZSAS directed bombing raids across the country in support of the US invasion and occupation. The GCSB continues to supply signals intelligence for US drone strikes. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that there are 3.7 million Afghan refugees.”(1)

“We already know of the specific human rights abuses committed by NZDF soldiers in Afghanistan including the raid on Band-e-Timur. The refugee situation is the macro-issue created by the ongoing occupation and murderous drone campaign of the US government.”

“In Iraq, New Zealand has deployed soldiers to ‘train’ the Iraqi Army. This Army has a well-documented history of grave human rights abuses against civilians including ‘torture, summarily executing civilians – including children – and even beheading captives.'”(2,3)

“New Zealand’s participation in Iraq is not limited to the 2015 deployment. New Zealand supported the US/UK occupation in 2003 following the initial invasion. A NZDF company was deployed to serve with the British in Basra.”

“The humanitarian disaster happening today is the direct and inevitable consequence of the 2001 war in Afghanistan and the 2003 war in Iraq. New Zealand bears some responsibility in both cases.”

“When we talk about foreign policy, the New Zealand state likes to say it ‘punches above its weight.’ Certainly when it comes to joining wars of aggression with US, UK and Australia that is certainly the case.”

“Peace Action Wellington has been calling for the withdrawal of all New Zealand support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for more than a decade. We renew that call. We sincerely hope that the horror that we are witnessing as millions of people flee for their lives encourages people to think critically about New Zealand’s foreign policy and military alignments, and work to end all NZ support for the ‘War on Terrorism’.”

ENDS


(1)Watson Institute of International Affairs. Brown University. http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/costs/human/refugees/afghan

(2) “Iraqi militias have destroyed villages and displaced thousands, NGO says” The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/18/iraqi-army-has-destroyed-villages-and-displaced-thousands-ngo-says

(3)Open Letter to MPs from Harmeet Sooden: Deployment to Iraq
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1504/S00173/open-letter-to-mps-from-harmeet-sooden-deployment-to-iraq.htm

Media Release: Kiwisaver cashing in on human suffering
Peace Action Wellington
Thursday, 23 July 

“Revelations that Kiwisaver schemes have significant stock holdings in weapons companies is sickening, but sadly not surprising,” says PAW member Valerie Morse referring to the Stuff Business report.

“The United States and its allies have been involved in a perpetual war for more than a decade, and there is nothing better or more profitable for weapons manufacturers than ongoing war. These Kiwisaver schemes are cashing in on human suffering by investing in these companies – it is as simple as that. When the US goes to war, stocks in companies like Honeywell and TTI (Kiwisaver has holdings of both) skyrocket – and Kiwisavers make money. Frankly, I think most people would be disgusted to know that their retirement savings were helping to murder people around the world.”

“There are a significant divestment movements around weapons production, fossil fuel extraction, tobacco and the occupation of Palestine. All of these things are a direct threat to people’s lives and should not be money making opportunities.”

“People in New Zealand are interested in peace and justice – not in supporting wars and bloody conflicts around the planet. But with these stock holdings, all Kiwisaver members become unwitting supporters of war. Kiwisaver schemes need to immediately dump their holdings in weapons manufacturers, and we need to pressure them to make sure it happens.”

Media Release: “Peace” Mayor calls for new weapons
From: Peace Action Wellington
Date: 10 June 2015

“Peace Action Wellington is appalled that despite Mayor Celia Wade-Brown being Executive Leader of international Mayors for Peace, she is calling for new weapons for the military, and sees value in promoting international weapons sales at Wellington City Council venues,” said Peace Action Wellington spokesperson Joel Cosgrove.

In a recent response to Peace Action Wellington about the upcoming Weapons Conference to be held at the TSB Arena, the Mayor said she: “supports many roles conducted by New Zealand’s defence forces…Therefore they do need to have inflatable boats, helicopters and weapons… the purveyors of appropriate equipment for NZ Forces may also promote and sell other equipment to overseas authorities.”

“The Weapons Conference is a meeting of 200 of the world’s largest weapons manufacturers. This year it will be held at the TSB Arena – a city council venue. Celia seems to be under the impression that all it takes for peace is for her to make videos of herself in Island Bay ‘waving goodbye to nuclear weapons.’ Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest producer of weapons and maker of the Trident D5 nuclear missiles, will play host to the Weapons Conference in her so-called ‘Peace City’.”

“Her commitment to working for peace appears to be as shallow as her understanding of the role of weapons manufacturers in promoting war and militarism. In her response, the Mayor has equated the Weapons Conference with the likes of an international yoga meeting or a sustainable living expo.”

“The list of companies that will attend include makers of tanks, drones, missiles and command systems for rocket launchers among many other pieces of military hardware. These companies supply repressive regimes well-known for their human rights abuses. Meanwhile, military spending in Asia and Oceania is rising; it increased by 5 per cent in 2014 alone and by 62 per cent between 2005 and 2014, reaching $439 billion in 2014.”

“If Wellington is going to be a ‘Peace City’ then it will take more than lip service by the Mayor. It takes a commitment to standing up for what is right and just.”

“Peace Action Wellington challenges the Mayor to take a principled stance against the Weapons Conference by condemning it for what it is: war profiteering.”

Tony Abbott targeted at opening of new memorial
From: Peace Action Wellington
Date: 20 April 2015

“Peace Action Wellington welcomed Tony Abbott to Aotearoa with ‘Warmonger Warmonger! OUT! OUT! OUT! at the opening of the Australian memorial at Pukeahu this morning,” said Peace Action member Valerie Morse

“Peace Action Wellington will not remain silent while genocide against Aboriginal Australians is being committed. We will not be silent while hundred of refugees are tortured in Australian concentration camps. We do not feel any obligation to honour Tony Abbott during the opening of this memorial.”

“While speaking simultaneously about honouring the sacrifice of people who died in dozen of previous wars, he and John Key are committing more troops to fight yet another war for Western dominance in the Middle East.”

“As Anzac day approaches, we encourage people to be critical of the coopting of the centennial in order to wage more war.”

We say “No NZ support”
Tuesday, 24 February 2015, 2:51 pm
Press Release: Peace Action Wellington

‘We condemn the decision by the New Zealand government to send troops to another US-led war in the Middle East. Despite the government’s attempts to minimise New Zealand’s involvement, there is widespread and justified public unease. The announcement today has been carefully staged-managed in order to quell public opposition,’ said Peace Action Wellington member Valerie Morse.

‘For months the National government has primed the public with repeated incantations of ISIS “terrorism”. Yet we see no condemnation by them for the terrorism of the US-drone programme that has murdered thousands of innocent people over the past decade, in countries where there isn’t even the pretext of an actual war. Their hypocrisy is mind-blowing. These government narratives also leave out a few important facts—like the US funding of dictatorships in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the latter of which is clearly funding ISIS, and continued US support for illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories.’

‘Despite the rhetoric of remaining ‘behind the wire,’ New Zealand troops deployed to Iraq will be armed with authority to kill. No good for ordinary people—either here or there—can come out of the government’s deployment.’

‘Peace Action Wellington is calling on people to join in a show of opposition to NZ military support for another war in Iraq at a demonstration on Thursday at 5pm at the Cenotaph.’

Anti-War Rally at the Cenotaph
Thursday, 19 February 2015, 10:35 am
Press Release: Peace Action Wellington

Peace Action Wellington is inviting all people who are opposed to New Zealand support for US wars in Iraq and Syria to meet at the Cenotaph at 5pm next Thursday, 26 February. Please bring banners or placards showing opposition to war.

The government has indicated that it will make a decision about troop deployments by the end of the month, but we all know that it is a foregone conclusion. For months, the prime minister has been priming the public for a deployment, testing public opinion to see how far he can go. The government euphemistically calls the deployment of training troops as being ‘behind the wire,’ but the reality is that these are combat soldiers who will be authorised to shoot to kill.

The situation in the Middle East is the direct result of the 2003 US invasion and subsequent occupation which left hundreds of thousands of people dead and Iraq massively destabilised politically, economically and socially. Sending the US military in to fix a situation that it created will make the situation considerably worse, not better.

Join us in opposing New Zealand’s involvement in a new US war in Iraq and Syria. Show the government that it does not have our consent to wage this war.

No part of a warmongers club
Tuesday, 27 January 2015, 10:07 am
Press Release: Peace Action Wellington

Peace Action Wellington condemns the prime minister’s commitment of military support for the US war in Iraq. Peace Action also condemns the casual and cavalier way in which the prime minister discusses joining the US-UK led war as being the ‘price of the club’.

But it comes as little surprise that millionaire Prime Minister John Key reached for the image of a club when announcing war moves.

Exclusive clubs are where top political deals regularly get done.

New Zealand should have no part of a club that invades, bombs and spies on people anywhere.

Western military activity in the Middle East is not about helping distressed citizens or combating Islamic extremism. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not about ‘liberation’ as then US President George W. Bush proclaimed, with more than 130,000 people dead as a direct result of the invasion and occupation that lasted until 2011.

In fact in the complex situation that has evolved in the Middle East, the United States has been funding, training and arming many of the same people it is now fighting.

Western troops and drones are an imperialist operation to secure American domination over the oil-rich region.

New Zealand supports Western alliances to advance its own big business interests. These are the same big business interests that lay off workers, cut wages and despoil the environment.

New Zealand working people need to create their own “club” – an international movement actively opposing war and the capitalist system which breeds modern war.

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