Blockading the military summit
An activist group aims to shut down a military conference being held downtown this week by forming a human blockade outside the venue.
Hundreds of protesters will descend on the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre today, November 16, in opposition to the annual New Zealand Defence Industry Association (NZDIA) Forum.
The military forum links defence businesses with government agencies. Its principal sponsor is the world’s largest weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
Nearly 500 people have said they will join the protest, being planned by Auckland Peace Action.
Spokeswoman Virginia Lambert says the protest is to raise awareness of alternatives to militarisation.
‘‘It is abhorrent people profit from the tools of mass murder,’’ Lambert says.
‘‘This is why we are taking action.’’
In addition to forming a blockade the activist group will hold education workshops as part of their protest.
NZDIA chair Bernie Diver says the blockade is misguided, as protesters characterise it as being about weapons trading.
‘‘This is not a weapons trading event, this is normal everyday New Zealand businesses that supply goods and services to support the New Zealand Defence Force and Ministry of Defence.’’
The only weapons on display at the event will be rifles ‘‘which would be similar, albeit high end, to what you would see at any hunting store,’’ Diver says.
Lambert disputes these claims and says it is well known 550 arms dealers will be at the event to discuss their weapons.
‘‘The reality is weapons manufacturers are meeting to showcase and advertise their weapons.’’
Lambert says the blockade will be non-violent and will aim to stop people from entering the event.
She says trainings have been held to educate people on what might happen while blockading, along with workshops on nonviolence, legal and safety issues.
A police spokesperson says they are aware of the planned protest.
The blockade starts at 8am and is part of Auckland Peace Actions ‘‘Week of Peace’’ events.
A NZDIA summit in Wellington last year was also disrupted.
Auckland Peace Action member Frances Pavletich and Virginia Lambert with placards ready for the blockade.