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Weapons conference organisers bombarded

MEDIA RELEASE:Weapons conference organisers and war profiteers bombarded
FROM: Peace Action Wellington
DATE: 12 September 2006

The campaign against the weapons conference stepped up another notch yesterday. Weapons companies based in New Zealand and their supporters, were bombarded with phone calls, faxes and emails, demanding that they abort plans to hold a weapons conference at Te Papa in October, and end weapons production in Aotearoa, including the Government’s financial support to weapons companies. The targets of the action were not only Te Papa, but Trade and Enterprise NZ, the government agency responsible for funding weapons research and development and MAS Zengrange, a Lower Hutt based company that makes computer systems to control mortar and artillery fire.

“People from throughout New Zealand have let weapons companies, and those providing them with a platform to do their dirty work, directly know what they think of a weapons conference being held at Te Papa in October,” said Valerie Morse, spokesperson for the broad coalition of groups campaigning to stop the weapons conference.

“Section 8c of the Museum of New Zealand Act 1992 states that a museum has the responsibility to ensure that it is a source of pride for all New Zealanders. Yet how can Te Papa be a source of pride when they’re opening their doors to companies that profit from war and human misery?”

MAS Zengrange, as well as Auckland-based companies Oscmar and Rakon were the merchants of death of focus in today’s action. In the last year there has been increasing public exposure of their role in the manufacture of components for weapons and ongoing profiteering from war.

“It is absolutely disgusting that companies like Rakon, who have received financial assistance from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and who picked up their Trade & Enterprise Export Award in 2004, are manufacturing crystal oscillators for the guidance systems of US smart bombs,” said Ms Morse.

“This conference gives companies like MAS Zengrange, who manufacture weapons firing control systems and communication systems for mortar and artillery batteries, the chance to rub shoulders with a number of international war mongers. Previous conferences have included delegates from General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin, two of the world’s largest manufacturers of arms including ballistic missiles, as well as Halliburton, Sikorsky Helicopters and the US Army.”

If this year’s conference goes ahead then this will be the third year in a row that the New Zealand Defence Industry Association (NZDIA) has gathered at Te Papa. Established in 1993, the NZDIA is made up of 37 companies. The NZDIA and its members have strong ties with the NZ Defence Force, Ministry of Defence and the Government’s national economic development agency, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

“The campaign to stop the weapons conference will continue until Te Papa slams the door shut on the weapons conference and weapons production in Aotearoa has been brought to a halt,” concluded Valerie Morse.

ENDS

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