And I’m off again

February 10, 2006

So, just after I get back, I’m heading off again. Going back down South for another month, most of which I’ll be spending in Happy Valley.

In the meantime, enjoy a press release that I wrote today:

Kiwi Spotted In Midland Park

Over 100 inflatable kiwi were released in Midland Park at 12 noon on Friday, February 10th by members of the Save Happy Valley Coalition (Wellington). The kiwi were then dragged away and moved by “Solid Energy miners”.

The release highlighted the plight of up to 145 kiwi that live in the Upper Waimangaroa Valley, on the West Coast of the South Island that are threatened by state owned enterprise Solid Energy’s plans to create open cast coal mines throughout the Valley.

Save Happy Valley Coalition (Wellington) spokesperson Timothy Bailey said “While the pain suffered by the inflatable kiwi may not have been real, the destruction that Solid Energy aims to wreak cannot be laughed off so easily.”

“The proposed Cypress Mine in Happy Valley must be stopped. The lives of Great spotted kiwi (roa), the Powelliphanta Patrickensis giant carnivorous land snail and a number of other rare and endangered species are at stake. Solid Energy’s poor environmental record belies their claims that they can be trusted to minimise the undeniable impact that their proposed mine will have.”

Members of the Save Happy Valley Coalition from all over the country are currently taking part in an occupation of the proposed mine site.




Friday 21st – Wellington Anti-ANZ Demo

October 15, 2005

Image hosted by Photobucket.com


October 21st – Trans-Tasman day of action against ANZ!

October 3, 2005

September 23rd was the first trans-Tasman day of action against ANZ’s profiteering from the illegal occupation of Iraq. Actions took place in 8 cities across Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand (Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, Newcastle, Sydney, Wellington, Wollongong), with many branches shut down, flyers handed out, stickers stuck and chants yelled. Lets make October 21st hit them even harder!

Why protest at ANZ?

ANZ is one of a number of international banks involved in a consortium known as the Iraq Trade Bank (ITB). The ITB, created by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority, is the driving force behind the privatisation of Iraq’s natural resources and the exploitation of the Iraqi people.

Some suggested chants

One hundred thousand Iraqis dead
Who’s making profit? ANZ!

ANZ, ANZ, one hundred thousand Iraqis dead

S C U M, what does it spell? SCUM!

So, get your affinity groups together and start organising today!


The Deportation Of A Peace Activist

September 19, 2005

Scott Parkin, a 35 year old resident of Houston, Texas, was arrested on Saturday, September 10th at a café in the inner-northern Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, as he was on his way to run a workshop at a local community centre on the successes of the US peace movement’s campaign against Halliburton, and primarily about their use of street theatre. Scott is a promoter of non-violent direct action (NVDA), a popular theory amongst a large amount of activists.

Scott was arrested, interrogated, detained without charge for 6 days and then deported under anti-terrorism legislation as a “threat to national security”, in a move that Liz Thompson of the National Anti-Deportation Alliance called “a major attack on dissent, free speech and the anti-war movement.”

Now, back at home in Houston, Scott is facing an AU$11,700 (NZ$12,775) bill from the Australian government – he is being asked to pay $124 per day of his detention, plus his flight and return flights and accommodation for his two police minders. All this just a couple of weeks before Scott’s visa was due to expire and he was to return to the USA of his own accord.

So why was he arrested? Bob Brown, a Federal Senator for the Australian Greens, has suggested that it came after a request from the US Government (Scott is extremely knowledgeable on Halliburton and it’s links to the US Federal Government, and has written a number of articles on this subject). This has been strongly denied by Australian Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock.

Another possibility was suggested by Melbourne daily newspaper The Age (“‘Spirited’ protest advice led to US activist’s deportation”, Sept 14th).

sources told The Age Mr Parkin’s visa was cancelled because of what he was teaching in his workshops, including techniques for preventing police from taking protesters away for arrest

So, what exactly was this workshop that The Age mentions? Well, I was there, so allow me to expand a little.

Prior to the 30A Convergence against the Forbes Global CEOs Conference in Sydney (a convergence which both myself and Scott, plus over 1000 others, attended), there was a conference called Subplot held at a community centre in Newtown, a suburb of Sydney. At this conference, workshops and discussions were held on a range of topics, from climate change to Indymedia, from a history of Forbes to anti-racism and beyond.

On Monday, we had practical training for the anti-Forbes protests, including legal and medical information, discussion on likely police tactics, and more. One workshop that was run by a couple of people (including Scott) and attended by about 20 people was a workshop on NVDA blockading tactics. We had a lot of fun, with a few “cops” pushing and pulling the rest of us “protesters” while we tried to remain together in a tight formation. At one point, a number of us noticed some people repeatedly walking back and forth past our workshop (which was held outside on a grassy patch). We discussed this, and then figured it did not matter as we were not doing anything illegal. I even found a way to put my former life as a high school rugby player to good use, offering suggestions of body positioning that would lessen the chance of police being able to move you, even if they had a size advantage. Late in the workshop, we had a discussion on the possibility of de-arresting people and a number of us, myself included, offered tips on how to do this if people desired to do so. At no point do I remember Scott making any comments on this topic whatsoever. I note with interest that I was not arrested, detained without charge, deported and left with a huge bill. I also note that none of the Australian citizens involved were arrested either.

So, what is one to make of this? Many Australian activists are claiming that this arrest was intended to intimidate them and scare them away from protesting. Tactics such as the ones promoted by Scott Parkin are proving to be effective throughout the USA, and, as they are legal, the authorities are having trouble in curbing this dissent. John Howard is soon to push through a number of pieces of contentious legislation, including voluntary student unionism and industrial relations reform. Additionally, there is the question of foreign policy and Australia’s involvement in the Iraq war. Is Howard’s government scared that the successful NVDA tactics used in the US peace movement could be exported to Australia? If so, and such an assumption is not a hard one to make, then Scott’s deportation begins to make sense indeed. If I was a young, inexperienced Australian activist watching this drama unfold, I would likely be seriously questioning what risks I would be willing to take. If, coupled with Scott’s deportation, I had also seen first-hand what happened on Tuesday night at the anti-Forbes counter protest (where mounted police were seen whipping protesters with horse whips while others charged protesters who had already retreated and another beat a protester 10-15 times in the head with a baton) I would find it easy to come to the conclusion that Australia is already well on the road to becoming a police state where all dissent is criminalised, but also the simultaneous conclusion that it was too dangerous to try to combat it.

So, I end this post with a note to any Australian activists reading this. Firstly, thanks for your hospitality and your inspiration while I was in Australia. Secondly, best of luck for the future, and no matter what, keep fighting for your beliefs. Without them, there is nothing.


Action in Israel to commemorate 38 years of occupation

June 13, 2005

One of the many actions taken on the 4th of June in Israel to commemorate 38 years of Israeli occupation was this rather amusing one, done in the area of Ariel, one of the largest settlements in the West Bank. Photos courtesy of Israel Indymedia.


Labour Party Congress Protest (with photos!)

April 3, 2005

Around 30 people came to the protest outside the Wellington Town Hall, with topics ranging from GE to the “War On Terror”, from the Foreshore & Seabed theft to worker’s rights. It was a fairly lively and energetic protest, which always makes things a lot more interesting, with a number of people having their say on a number of issues.

Many bloggers were on the other side of the picket lines, inside the congress, such as Jordan (Just Left), Caleb (Some Other Guy), Conor (Constar), Greg (NZ Political Comments) and probably more.

A handful of National Front members showed up, handed out flyers and attempted to look staunch. They ran off after only about 40 minutes, perhaps it got too loud for their poor ears?

Cheers to everyone who came along and made it what it was.

The person with the “NO FEES” sign was from NZUSA, not the National Front

More at Indymedia


Protest outside the Labour party congress

April 1, 2005

Meet at 12.30pm Saturday April 2nd outside Burger King in Manners Mall, Wellington.
March to the town hall to demonstrate outside the Labour Party Election Year Congress
Why protest at the Labour Party Congress?

- GE
- Solid Energy’s poor environmental record
- Student debt over $7 billion
- Widening gap between rich and poor
- Profit from Rogernomics going to the elite
- Youth wage rates
- Low minimum wage
- Seabed and Foreshore theft
- Labour supported the invasion of Afghanistan, the War on Terror and the War on Iraq
- Continued foreign corporate control of Aotearoa
- And oh so much more!

I was painting a banner this evening, and it should be a good protest. See you all there!


Power of the people proves successful at anti-war demo

March 28, 2005

The following is an article that I wrote for the latest issue of SNAP!, a local anarchist broadsheet that you’ll find stuck up on walls around the central city, and in a few other locations. Also below are photos I took at the march/rally.

Over 150 people marched from Civic Square to the US Embassy last Saturday in protest against the United States’ continued illegal occupation of Iraq on the second anniversary of the invasion.

Marchers hailed from across the leftist spectrum, from Anarchists to Campus Left, from the Anti Capitalist Alliance to high school students, all came to voice their anger over the US’ continued flouting of international law and human rights in the interests of its corporate masters. As the march moved down Lambton Quay, several paint bombs were thrown at the ANZ Bank, in protest over its involvement in and profit from the war in Iraq. All the way, two plainclothes police kept a close eye on the marchers, with one taking a considerable number of close-up photos of activists with a high powered zoom lens.

At the embassy several speeches were made, then protesters were invited to vent their frustration by throwing rotten fruit at an activist dressed as George W. Bush. Police warned protesters not to get any fruit on the embassy, so one activist stood facing away from the embassy and threw a tomato. He was arrested and dragged away by police. The crowd sprung into action, surrounding the police and their vehicle to ensure that the arrested protester would not be taken away.

Shouts of “let him go!” and “false arrest!” filled the air for half an hour, until the police were forced to give in and release the activist without charge. Once again, people power proved triumphant over abusive police behaviour!

About 15 people camped overnight outside, and 2 went on a hunger strike in solidarity with the people of Iraq and those arrested in an Auckland anti-war protest.

More photos at http://flickr.com/photos/asherg/sets/204421/.

Edit – April 3rd: Made the photos smaller to reduce loading time. Sorry about that.


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