Blockad­ing the mil­i­tary sum­mit

Auckland City Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - TOM CARNEGIE

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.

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