Injuries sustained by peace protesters from police during blockade

By Regan Paranihi

Groups opposing the Defence Industry and National Security Forum in Wellington plan to continue their efforts and return to Wellington’s Westpac Stadium today.

A number of people were arrested yesterday as protestors attempted to block forum participants entering the conference.

Peace Action Wellington claim 15 people were arrested and have accused police of heavy handed behaviour against those opposing the event.

Jessie Dennis of Peace Action Wellington says “The heavy-handed and violent actions of the police in protecting and attempting to escort delegates inside was shameful. A number of peaceful blockaders were pushed over, pushed into the road and kicked. Some injuries were sustained.”

Protesters arrived at the venue early yesterday morning claiming it was a “Weapons Expo.”

The New Zealand Defence Industry Association disputes the claim and say 500 delegates from over 150 organisations will be meeting for the benefit of the country's national security.

Police Operations Manager Inspector Neil Banks says “We are aware of allegations in the media about police conduct and would remind anyone with concerns that there are several avenues available to them if they wish to make a complaint.”

Police say they are disappointed with the behaviour of protestors and say nine people were arrested; eight for obstructing a public roadway and one for disorderly behaviour.

Banks says. “We are disappointed that a number of protestors behaved in a way that created safety issues, disrupted traffic, and caused delays that inconvenienced the wider public.

The conference has run for 20 years and Andrew Ford, Deputy Chairman of NZDIA says, “The major purpose of the forum is to share initiatives and best business practice in supporting government agencies involved in National Security.”

Dennis says the companies that are involved in the conference are a part of a global industry that profits from death and misery.

She says, “We can’t allow business to go ahead for an industry which profits from the death of millions.”

Dennis hopes the protest will send a message to make the weapons trade unwelcome in Aotearoa, but ultimately they want to make arms dealing an obsolete industry worldwide.