Decolonise Your Mind!

We Teach Life – a poetry evening with Rafeef Ziadah

Last Saturday we were lucky enough to co-host Rafeef Ziadah’s show in Te Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellington with Poetry in Motion.

150 people were treated to a powerful night of music, poetry and spoken word at Old St Paul’s in Thorndon. The night began with spoken word from Aotearoa artists Te Kahu Rolleston, Rangimārie Sophie Jolley, Winara Levi and Mohamed Hassan. Then Phil Monsour kept the energy high playing his own music before accompanying Rafeef’s performance of her political & emotionally charged spoken word. The themes of colonisation, borders, roots and resistance weaved in and out all the performances and we left inspired to take action for Palestine and decolonisation around the world.

Paiaka: Relate, Resist and Organise!

The following day a bunch of us headed off to the Innermost Gardens to participate in an afternoon of workshops. It was great to be able to do some self reflection on our activism, think about how we function as a group, how we work with others including tangata whenua and meet some new people.

Paiaka is a new community project which aims to connect local communities to the whenua, connect communities to each other, lay a whariki (mat) for learning about politics and resistance and engage discussion and develop tools to create a just world

Hit and Run

Then on Tuesday we caught PM Bill English and Chief of Defence Tim Keating sweeping some classified documents pertaining to the deadly NZ SAS raid on a village in Afghanistan under the rug. We are not going to stop talking about this and will be releasing a video soon.

Add your voice to the call for an independent inquiry now! https://our.actionstation.org.nz/petitions/launch-an-independent-inquiry-into-the-nz-sas-s-involvement-in-civilian-casualties-in-afghanistan

Now the cops owe us money!

You might have caught the news a while back that we won our case against police for costs (well they said they would give it to us but it hasn’t arrived yet!). We have been awarded a small amount of money back. You can read all the details here: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/327380/protesters-win-case-against-police

Some of this money has been used to reimburse further costs to activists from the court proceedings. We have decided to spend any leftover money on future campaigns against the Weapons Expo. It seems likely that it’s coming back to Wellington this year so we have been working on the campaign already.

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In February handing in a petition at parliament calling for an end to the Weapons Expo.

Thanks once more for your support and solidarity, it means a lot.

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We Teach Life: a poetry evening with Rafeef Ziadah

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On Saturday 8th April, join critically acclaimed Palestinian spoken-word artist Rafeef Ziadah in celebrating the release of her new album, We Teach Life, right here in Wellington. The evening will feature a powerful selection of Rafeef’s poetry in her signature performance style accompanied by musician Phil Monsour. Tickets for this Wellington event at Old St Paul’s church are available here.

Rafeef will be supported by huge names from the Aotearoa spoken word scene; National Poetry Slam Champions Mohamed Hassan & Te Kahu Rolleston (Ngāi Te Rangi), as well as Winara Levi (Ngāti Haua).

“Rafeef ’s poetry demands to be heard. She is powerful, emotional and political.” – Ken Loach

Rafeef Ziadah is a Palestinian performance poet and human rights activist based in London. Her performances of her poems ‘We Teach Life, Sir’ and ‘Shades of Anger’ went viral online within days of their release.

Join Peace Action Wellington and Poetry in Motion for this event in solidarity with Palestinian people and their struggle against apartheid, discrimination and colonisation, from one colonised land to another. Any proceeds above the costs of the show will go to a Palestinian organisation of Rafeef’s choice.

Doors will open at 6.30 pm and the show will start at 7.00 pm. Event running time is approximately 2 hours. The Facebook event is here. Tickets, priced from $16 unwaged to $21 waged, are available at tinyurl.com/RafeefWGTN

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The People’s Climate Rally Taranaki

Peace Action Wellington traveled up to Taranaki with Oil Free Wellington to attend The People’s Climate Rally, a protest in response to the Petroleum Conference being held there. We were there to tell the oil executives that they can’t continue to burn fossil fuels in the face of climate change and tautoko our friends in the Climate Justice Movement. Auckland Peace Action have written a great blog on how war and climate change are two sides of the same coin.

Here are some choice pics and videos of the day.

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Drone Assassination Awareness Week February 26 – March 3

woodcutPeace Action Wellington are supporting the Catholic Worker Movement during their Drone Assassination Awareness Week. The Catholic Worker Movement is raising awareness of New Zealand’s complicity in US drone strikes and military action with a week-long Drone Assassination Awareness Week.

Throughout the week a converted school-bus with a shrine to remember victims of military drone-strikes will be roving Wellington streets. There will be six days and nights of prayer, fasting and witnessing for the victims of drone strikes. At the end of the week they will call on the GCSB to end all assistance given to the drone assassination programme and release all historic files up to February 2007.

The Catholic Worker Movement and Peace Action Wellington worked together against the Weapons Expo in 2015 and were fellow defendants in a botched prosecution where 15 defendants recently had their charges dismissed in the Wellington District Court. “Anti-war groups are active across Aotearoa and have been uniting to stop war where it starts – in the intelligence services and Weapons Expo. We’re happy to support this Drone Assassination Awareness Week and to stand in solidarity with people threatened by drones around the world,” said Alison Grand of Peace Action Wellington.

The NZ government, through GCSB, is in partnership with the US by supplying information gathered through the Five Eyes alliance and is therefore complicit in the crimes committed by the US military. This includes drone strikes which have killed thousands of innocent civilians in seven Muslim majority countries.
“We will be praying and fasting for the thousands of civilians killed by the USA’s targeted drone assassination programme.” said Catholic Workers’ Movement spokesperson Adrian Leason.

“Most kiwis would be horrified to learn that our own GCSB is helping the US drone programme that has killed so many civilians. So we will be calling on the government to withdraw the GSCB’s contribution of intelligence to this programme.” said Mr Leason.

For more details, see: www.takeourbloodinstead.com

 

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Not Guilty! Court Case Over

The court case against fifteen peace activists arrested protesting the 2015 Weapons Conference finished today with the last activist with a trespass charge being found not guilty. Over the course of seven days in court fifteen charges of obstruction, trespass and disorderly behaviour were dismissed or found not guilty due to lack of evidence.

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This has been fifteen months of stress, both emotional and financial having these charges hanging over us. Many of the people arrested at the protest were not able to fight the charges because of study, work, travel and other commitments and were forced to take diversion or plead guilty. Those of us who could, choose to fight these charges because we believed we were within or legal rights to protest and were arrested at random to shut down the protest.

At this point we are relieved that no one has been found guilty and the court has vindicated our freedom to protest but it also feels like we have already been punished by the police, who have used these arrests, charges and lengthy court case to deter people from protesting.

Throughout this court case they have accused us of being a violent mob and of assaulting people without any evidence or charges relating to these claims. If anything the police were the violent mob at the protest and have left many people traumatised by their aggressive arrests of peaceful protestors.

The police sought a pre-emptive trespass order days before the protest began which was found to be without legal merit on the first day of the trial because the protest took place on public land. Their priority from the start was not to uphold public order but instead assist business people who profit from war rather than respect peoples right to protest. The real criminals were the companies inside the building busy making deals in weapons.

Recently released figures by The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) show that the global arms trade is at it’s highest volume since the Cold War so challenging the arms trade is as important now more than ever, this court case though taxing will not deter us from continuing to take a stand against the arms trade here in Aotearoa.

Thanks to everyone who has supported us during the arrests and court process. Whether it was a message of support, your presence at court, food or financial help every bit of support we have received has helped us fight these charges and win! Thank you!

Media:

http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2017/02/all-charges-dropped-against-wellington-weapons-expo-protesters.html

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/325168/last-peace-activist-cleared-over-protest-charges

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/89721716/peace-protesters-celebrate-after-court-victory-over-arms-industry-conference-arrests

 

 

 

 

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Week of Resistance/Court Solidarity

A Week of Ongoing Resistance & Solidarity! 13th-17th February

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In November 2015, 27 people were arrested for protesting peacefully outside the Weapons Conference in Wellington. 15 of us are still facing trial which will take place between the 13-17th February. Although this has been a stressful and lengthy process, the struggle against the arms trade continues, so this will be a Week of Ongoing Resistance. Join us! More details and updates on the whole week’s events will be on court updates page and our Facebook event here.

Kick off Court
Monday 13th Feb, 9am, Wellington District Court

Let’s kick off proceedings in style with a rally outside the entrance to Wellington District Court. Bring an anti-war or ‘Not Guilty’ sign!

Stop the Weapons Conference: petition delivery
Tuesday 14th Feb, 6pm, Parliament

Join us to deliver a petition calling for an end to the Weapons Conference. Signatures were gathered by both PAW & our sister organisation Auckland Peace Action & we’ll be handing this in to the government to tell them that arms dealers and weapons deals are not welcome in Aotearoa.

Vigil for Reza Barati – Refugees Welcome
Friday 17th Feb, 8am, Australian High Commission

Join Doing Our Bit & PAW for a vigil and sit-in outside the Australian High Commission. Reza Berati was escaping persecution from Iran. He was on a boat headed for Australia. Instead of seeing if he was really seeking protection, the Australian government locked him up on Manus Island. He was murdered there on February 17, 2014 because the Australian government would not protect his life. Come and show your solidarity and disgust at the Australian government’s treatment of refugees fleeing war. More information on the Facebook event here.

Solidarity Shared Kai
ALL WEEK: Monday 13th – Friday 17th, c. 1-2pm, Wellington District Court

Come and share kai at lunchtime if you’re in the city. Lunchtimes will be dictated by the court but are generally around 1-2pm. Feel free to bring along some snacks to share if you can (Vegan treats especially appreciated!).

Come to Court
ALL WEEK: Monday 13th – Friday 17th, c. 10am – 5pm

Feel free to come along to the Court itself! It may be boring at times but your presence will be much appreciated by the arrestees. Let’s pack out the courtroom! Please don’t actively protest during the court proceedings as this could affect the Judge’s decisions & drag all this shit out even longer. If you have volunteered and been confirmed as a witness, court rules say that you cannot see any other court proceedings before your testimony is heard. You can still come along to the court while it’s not in session though!

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The Best of 2016

2016 has been a busy year for Peace Action Wellington. Thanks to everyone who has joined in and supported us in the past twelve months. Here are some highlights.

In April we planted edible plants in public spaces to honour the lives of millions of Syrian women enduring siege, war, exile, dispossession and imprisonment, as well as those who have passed away.

Syrian solidarity action

Then we were delighted to discover that concerned citizens had returned the old Nuclear Free Wellington sign to its rightful place.

Sign reading

Later that month we sailed a cardboard boat into the Ministry of Defence to highlight the government’s invitation of US warships with potential nuclear armaments onboard to Aotearoa’s shores, as well as speaking out against military spending. Over zealous police arrested one protestor at the peaceful protest that lasted mere minutes inside.

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On ANZAC day 2016, two sculptures of conscientious objectors in the ‘field punishment number one’ position were placed around Wellington to remember those who opposed the war and challenge the on-going romanticisation of war and the militarisation of this day. One of these can currently be viewed in the new Ngā Heke exhibiton at Wellington Museum.

Sculpture commemorating conscientious objectors

Then on Sunday 22 May we placed lifejackets on statues around Wellington to remember those who have lost their lives while seeking asylum and those who still struggle for it.

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At the start of June the government announced it would spend $20 Billion on upgrading the NZDF despite stating in the Defence White Paper that “New Zealanders can remain confident that the country does not face a direct military threat in the foreseeable future.” We created a better white paper to highlight alternatives the money could be spent on.

a better white paper

In June and then again in August we organised protests outside the Australian High Commission to condemn Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers and New Zealand’s deafening silence on this topic.

In August we also spotted a series of full sized drone outlines in Wellington taking the discussion of the weapons industry to the streets.

Drone shadow

In September we went and visited the office of MAS Zengrange, a Lower Hutt company that makes mortar-firing systems and other war products. They weren’t pleased to see us. Five activists were arrested after they left the building.

October was a super busy month where we had a campaign launch party, a rally against the war industry, an art exhibition/fundraiser gig to raise awareness and replenish the coffers and finally a picnic to disrupt the Navy’s Trafalgar Luncheon.

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In November we supported Auckland Peace Action’s protests against the annual Weapons Conference and Navy celebrations. Some of us took part in Auckland whilst others delivered a message to the Wellington City Council asking them not to host the conference in a council venue again.

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The year began with court appearances for those arrested at last year’s Weapons Conference protests and various dates continued throughout the year with the trial date finally being set for 13 February 2017. December thus was taken up by fundraising for the legal costs. Thanks to everyone who has donated and spread the word.

You can still donate here www.tinyurl.com/PAWPLedgeMe

See you in 2017!

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