Peaceful protests against the weapons industry continued today with a walking tour and picnic. The walking tour showed Wellingtonians the arms dealers on their doorstep.
Protesters visited six local weapons companies today, including Broadspectrum, who operate illegal Australian offshore detention camps for refugees, and Rolls Royce, whose engines power 25% of military aircraft in the world.
“People are not aware that arms companies are quietly carrying out their business in Wellington. We wanted to let people know what’s really going on in their city,” said Peace Action Wellington spokesperson Gayaal Iddamalgoda.
“Broadspectrum took over from security group G4S on Manus Island in February 2014, and has been in charge of the Nauru detention centre since 2013. They are complicit in the abuse of vulnerable asylum seekers – and they do business in the Hutt Valley. How comfortable are we with these companies in our city?”
The events followed on from yesterday’s successful blockade of the first day of the Weapons Expo, which saw a variety of tactics employed to prevent arms dealers from accessing the conference. Nine people were charged with minor offences and will appear in court on Friday.
The blockade was marred by a shocking level of police violence, with people reporting being kicked, punched, strangled, pushed into the road and groped.
“Many people reported having been groped by police officers and many injuries were reported. This is absolutely disgusting. Not only did the police facilitate arms dealers in conducting their deeply unethical business, but they resorted to grotesque tactics in order to do so,” said Iddamalgoda.
“We’re concerned that this represents a police culture where sexual assault is not only acceptable but deployed as a tactic against protesters. We’ll be making a complaint.
“In addition, we’re concerned that police unnecessarily disrupted the public yesterday by shutting down roads so that arms dealers could access the Weapons Expo. The police prioritised rich war profiteers over the public as a whole, and the roadblocks unfairly impacted many ordinary people.”
Peace actions will continue tonight, with a dance party held outside the Westpac Stadium from 5pm, featuring local electronic artists Disasteradio and Alexa Casino.
“This is a protest against war-profiteering and the arms trade, to let the arms dealers know we’re still here. While the arms dealers will be inside the Westpac Stadium having cocktails and an awards ceremony, we’ll be outside making some noise for peace.”