By Emma Walker
The UN agrees, anyone with a conscience agrees, even the scum over at the Department of Corrections agree: solitary confine is torture. But change the name, call it “23-hour lockdown” and suddenly Corrections is perfectly fine with it. Well, we’re not. Corrections can pull whatever linguistic stunt they want; the meanings of words are determined by use and what they refer to not, whether those in power prefer to be known as “torturers” or not. Corrections is currently using solitary confinement to torture a trans woman in a men’s prison, her mental health is suffering as a direct result as reported her advocates at No Pride in Prisons. The prison is a violent institution for all it places within its walls. It is rotten to the core. But for trans people this is magnified even further. Systemic transphobia is present at every part of the prison industrial complex.
By Emma Walker
“This is not a weapons trading event, this is normal everyday New Zealand businesses that supply goods and services to support the New Zealand Defence Force and Ministry of Defence” is what a representative said of yesterday’s Weapons Conference in Auckland’s Viaducts Event Centre, which was sponsored by none other than the world’s largest weapon’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.
This quote’s description of the conference as “normal everyday New Zealand businesses” is reminiscent of the phrase “there’s nothing to see here”; which always means that there is something to see. “Normal everyday” is a strange combination of words, one that might be used by someone caught doing something wrong. “No, don’t worry, this is just a normal everyday grenade I always carry around.” Putting the words “normal” and “everyday” in front of a concept doesn’t remove the violence it represents. [Read more…]
Last week between 300-400 people gathered outside the Union building at Otago University to protest proposed cuts to the Humanities division. Up to 20 jobs are at risk across the History, Anthropology and Archaeology, English, Languages, and Music departments, and the TEU has been vocal in its campaign against the cuts. There was a prior protest of similar size in August, and a smaller one outside a lecture theatre where Bill English was speaking in September. The tree next to the Union building had been adorned with knitted and paper hearts, the latter of which bore messages of support for the humanities. Once the crowd has assembled we began marching to the steps opposite the clock tower, led by a bagpiper. [Read more…]
About 40 medicinal cannabis campaigners rallied at Parliament on Wednesday in support of a petition being handed in, and for Damien O’Connor’s Members Bill to permit medicinal cannabis being prescribed for the terminally ill and sufferers of significant pain. Yes Damien O’Connor, the sometimes illiberal Labour MP for West Coast. If O’Connor can support this step, surely anyone can! In fact the latest poll on this issue showed that 76% of New Zealanders support a law change to allow medicinal cannabis to be prescribed by doctors. Only 12% are opposed, and 12% undecided. The Government, however, are out of touch with public opinion. [Read more…]
by Daniel Simpson Beck
“Rights, not tragedy!”
“Assistance to live, not assistance to die!”
These were some of the chants of around 30 disability rights protesters outside the Embassy’s preview screening of Me Before You on Wednesday night. The rally was one of many around the world calling for a boycott of the Hollywood romance, a film that plays on the tired trope that disabled people lead tragic lives and are burdens on society. Protest organisers Esther Woodbury and Paula Booth call it as it is, “offensive, clichéd bullshit, which has denied disabled people the opportunity to tell their own stories to mainstream audiences”. This repetitive stigmatising of disability by the media is incredibly damaging. It helps to reinforce the view that disability should be avoided at all costs, and the abhorrent idea that disabled people are better off being killed. Internationally, many disabled people are furious at the release of yet another stereotypical, offensive, ableist story. As Robyn Hunt of Arts Access Advocates puts it, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. On Wednesday night in Wellington, some of that anger was expressed. Protesters held placards and a banner with slogans such as:
“Demand Better Disability Stories. #survivethemovie #getlaid #notyourinspirationporn”
“#Spoiler. Hollywood kills Will because he is disabled; Will doesn’t get laid.” [Read more…]
By Marc Inzon
I sat down to talk with a couple of No Pride In Prison (NPIP) members as they tried to get a respite from their scrum with the police. One of them tells me “pride has historically been a protest and to deny protest for the rights of queer and trans people where it began in New Zealand is ridiculous.” Behind us, we hear more chants of ‘The police are violent, we won’t be silenced.’ Another round of pushing shoving with the police had begun while the pride parade carried on. [Read more…]
By Cory Anderson and Josh O’Sullivan
More than 20,000 demonstrators brought Auckland’s CBD to a standstill on Thursday, protesting the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Braving threats of a heavy-handed response from police, activists blockaded the signing venue at the SkyCity casino, shutting down intersections and impeding traffic in the surrounding area. As their numbers swelled through the morning, roaming protests fanned out through the city occupying key access points such as motorway on- and off- ramps, bringing traffic to a standstill and temporarily closing a section of the Harbour Bridge. Meanwhile, thousands gathered around Aotea Square for the largest demonstration against the TPPA yet, and one of the largest in the last 30 years. People came to express their anger from all walks of life, Nurses, doctors, teachers, students, construction workers, lawyers, librarians and university lecturers were all amongst the crowd that marched down Queen Street, and at the front a Hikoi was led by a large Kapa Haka group. [Read more…]
by Hebe Kearney
Normally I’d open here with statistics. I’d give you a scale of numbers, refer back to the biggest estimate, talk, only slightly ironically, about the power in numbers. Power in a few hundred, couple thousand. Today, I’m opening with the power in tens of thousands. 20,000-30,000 people marching through Auckland city; shutting down roads, business, even shutting down the pre-organized plan for the march itself. I’ve been filled with pure excitement, telling comrades enthusiastically that this is historic. The kind of thing people will reminisce to future generations about. It was awesome.
In 1975 Hone Tuwhare (New Zealand’s second Poet Laureate) wrote a poem about the Māori Land March. It’s one of those poems that has embedded itself deep into my consciousness. It has occupied my mind during many protests, yet somehow its stanzas have always seemed somehow disconnected from the usual contained, speech-bookended Queen Street affairs. [Read more…]
by Joe Chip
At 8am this morning a group of around 150 people began blockading and protesting the annual New Zealand Defence Industry Association conference. The action is set to go on for as long as possible throughout the day. The action was organised by anti-war group Peace Action Wellington. Many Wellingtonians were there as were groups from across the left such as union activists, LGBT rights campaigners, anti-war activists, pro-Palestine activists, and more. Several activists travelled down from across the country to be part of the protest.