Activists to Court While Te Papa Rolls in Profits
From: Peace Action Wellington
For immediate use
5th December 2005
Peace Activists to Court While Te Papa Rolls in Profits from Another Weapons Conference
Six of the twenty Wellington peace activists arrested outside Te Papa on 18th October will appear in the Wellington District Court tomorrow, facing charges of obstruction, trespass and assault.
The arrests occurred during protest action outside the New Zealand Defence Industry Association's (NZDIA) Conference, held at Te Papa for a third year in a row.
"As usual, the Police engaged in brutal and unmitigated force. It's ironic that they used such force against us for protesting outside a weapons conference, being held at the national museum," said Valerie Morse, spokesperson for Peace Action Wellington.
"What's more ironic is that we're the ones appearing in court and being charged with assault and for trespassing on publicly owned property."
Through its No Arms Race at Our Place Campaign, Peace Action Wellington placed numerous amounts of pressure on Te Papa to cancel its contract with the NZDIA, yet Te Papa turned a blind eye to letters, personal complaints, a petition, emails, and faxes from members of the community.
"Te Papa put income and profit ahead of cancelling its contract with the defence industry's weapons conference. The Museum of New Zealand Act 1992 (section 8c) states that a museum has the responsibility to ensure that it is a source of pride for all New Zealanders. How can this be the case when Te Papa is profiting from an industry which relies on and gains from human and social destruction?"
NZDIA member companies are participants in a world-wide weapons industry. Some companies have received taxpayer funded grants through Trade and Enterprise New Zealand, and products promoted at recent conferences have included grenades, weapons firing control systems, shoot-to-kill training equipment, 'special purpose' munitions, and aerial bombing score systems.
"We long for the day when Te Papa is not used as a venue for the weapons industry conference, when these companies are exposed and shut down for the murderous business that they are engaged in, and when peace activists are not violently arrested and charged for exposing the dirty work of these companies," said Ms Morse.
Members of the public are urged to show their support for the peace activists appearing in court tomorrow (Tuesday 6 th December) and the Peace Action Wellington campaign by going along to the Wellington District Court (43-49 Balance Street) at 10am.