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Kerry Tankard



As an activist, I have been involved with a variety of events on and off campus. Today I would like to profile for you an action of the Peace Action Wellington collective, and its background in the Victoria anti-war group, which is somewhat defunct this year. A quick scan of past Salients will give you a clue: 2003 was a very big year, what with the War on Terrorism starting to bite in Iraq, at the same time that millions of pacifists around the world mobilised to show their opposition to George Bush’s militarisation of the Middle East conflicts.
Over the past five years, we have seen the collective consciousness of the Western nations taken over by the fear and greed of President Bush, whose personal morality is heavily rooted in his Texas home-state, and his family connections to the oil barons of Fort Lauderdale. The USA has wallowed in cheap oil prices and gas-guzzling Americanbuilt vehicles since the end of the last oil shock in the 70’s. Those of us who were alive in NZ at that time recall petrol stations running out of gas, and ‘carless days’, a government initiative, whereupon one chose a day of the week not to drive one’s vehicle, and duly had a registration sticker which pronounced which day the aforementioned vehicle would be staying in the garage. The need for this kind of general sacrifice was driven by US control of global oil reserves.
This small piece of history has suddenly become very much more relevant than I ever thought it would be; we are now looking at the US invading Lebanon, via Israel, to further destabilise the Middle East, as their war in Iraq has not delivered the requisite control over resources that they need.
Do not be hoodwinked by the stated ‘hunt for terrorists’ and ‘weapons of mass destruction’. It was never about finding bin
Laden. It was about finding, shipping and stockpiling the oil reserves, and making sure that American contractors had the money flowing back to the States for the rebuilding of a country that American tax dollars had destroyed.
Now in the Middle East, we see Lebanon being bombed into submission by Israeli forces, using American sourced hardware and military intelligence. Despite all assurances to the contrary, our own weapons industry has a hand to play in all this destruction. Rakon Industries, a small electronics manufacturer based in Auckland (small in global terms) is making quartz crystals for guiding missiles. There’s not a lot of other uses for these crystals, but Prime Minister Helen Clark has denied that they are being sold for the open defence industry marketplace.
I beg to differ with her interpretation of the facts. These components have been photographed in the wreckage of military hardware lying in the sands of Lebanon.
Shortly in Wellington, on the 17th and 18th of October, there will be a Defence Industry Association Conference, held at Te Papa Tongarewa, Our Place, the Museum of New Zealand/Aotearoa. At this conference, delegates will be wined and dined by our illustrious Minster for Defence, who is also our Minister for Disarmament, the Hon. Phil Goff, and members of the Ministry which he heads. There will be weapons manufacturers from many countries, notably the Chinese, with whom ‘we’ wish to obtain more trade. Not in my name, that ‘we’!.
There will be a collection of protests occurring throughout the period of the DIA conference, which will be publicised closer to the date.
The Arms Trade is a death trade, and it is highly inappropriate for this conference to be held in a facility that has as its stated purpose, to educate and entertain young New Zealand citizens in the history and culture of our country. These weapons manufacturers will mostly sell their goods to countries engaged in low-scale, non-global wars, in which civilians are the majority of the casualties, and in which casualty figures, children predominate.
I don’t expect you to take my word for it; here’s some websites with more information.
www.converge.org.nz/pma/nowarp.htm: This is a national peace activist website
www.oxfam.org.nz: This one has a good article about the lack of water due to bombing in Lebanon, Oxfam is supplying a percentage of Lebanon’s needs.
www.peacewellington.tk: this is Peace Action Wellington
www.indymedia.org.nz: For independent media commentary and articles
There’s also mainstream media like ‘Scoop!’ and ‘Stuff’, but they don’t focus on activism in Aotearoa unless people bleed or are arrested, and commonly don’t get any film or footage if protesters are assaulted by Police or other forces. For pictures of peaceful, non-violent direct action, I suggest the alternative media. They’ll also give you an accurate idea of how many people turned out for mass protests.
For those of you who like internet based radio stations, here’s another: www.air.enzyme.org.nz
More radical radio can be found at 107.5FM, broadcasting in Kilbirnie, Melrose, Miramar, Wellington City, Lower Hutt and Island Bay, under various monikers.