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An Open Letter from Occupy Christchurch

An Open Letter from Occupy Christchurch to our Mayor, our Police District Commander, and our Prime Minister

We would like to make it known to our community, our national authorities, and our local authorities, that the occupation currently residing in South Hagley Park, Christchurch, is a political statement. We are exercising our continuing right as citizens of this democratic country to peaceably assemble and protest the injustices facing our society. This right is codified in our Bill of Rights, Section 16, which reads: “Freedom of peaceful assembly; Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.” This right is also codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 20.(1), which reads: “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”

We are also exercising our right to employ an occupation of tents as a political statement. This right is codified in our Bill of Rights, Section 14, which reads: “Freedom of expression; Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.” This right is also codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19, which reads: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

We would also like to make it clear that we are not a disorderly assembly, based on Section 5A(3) of the Summary Offences Act 1981 No 113, which reads: “This section shall not apply to any group of persons who assemble in any public place for the purpose of demonstrating support for, or opposition to, or otherwise publicising, any point of view, cause, or campaign.”

We are conscious that we are potentially in violation of some local by-laws regarding freedom camping in public spaces, but we want it to be made very clear that our actions are not those of freedom campers, but of citizens exercising our right to peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression. We hope that the current good will that has been shown towards us will continue until we are satisfied that we no longer need to actively exercise these rights.

We stand here in solidarity with all our brave friends who have been denied these rights in countries that New Zealand considers Friends and Allies. Over the past week we have watched as citizens in the cities of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Atlanta, Oakland, Denver, and Boston, were forcefully evicted through violent means from their occupations. We also stand here in solidarity with all our friends in other occupations throughout New Zealand who are currently having these rights questioned. Out of respect for the society of which we are a part we are committed to remaining peaceful and lawful. Furthermore, we would like it to be known that if such events begin happening here, we too are prepared to defend our rights through techniques of non-violent resistance. We love our country and hope that we will not be forced to such recourse.

Occupy Christchurch

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