Wellington should not host weapons conference


Between November 17 and 18, Wellington will host 200 of the world’s largest weapons manufacturers at the Defence Industry Association Annual Forum. Despite the PR spin, this 2 day event, more appropriately called a weapons conference, promises to be a bonanza for companies who are in the business of selling products that are designed to kill, maim and destroy.

As one of several New Zealand cities that are members of the ‘Mayors for Peace’ global initiative, Wellington should not be hosting this event – particularly when this year’s principal sponsor is Lockheed Martin. This US-based company is a major manufacturer of nuclear weapons and delivery systems for the US and the UK. It is nothing short of a travesty that Lockheed Martin is being given the red carpet welcome in a city that has prided itself on its nuclear free status for over three decades. And it was only in August of this year that Wellington City Council voted unanimously to endorse a statement by global parliamentarians, Mayors, and religious leaders, calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Lockheed Martin also plies its plethora of conventional military wares to countries with abysmal human rights records. Saudi Arabia, which is currently leading a devastating bombing campaign in Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians and led to a humanitarian catastrophe, is a major recipient. Lockheed Martin recently obtained US government approval for a US$11 billion deal to sell  up to four warships to the wealthy Gulf Kingdom. The company also produces the notorious AGM-114 ‘Hellfire’ missile used in the US drone assassination programme – a programme that has killed and terrorised countless civilians from Pakistan to the Horn of Africa. Another sponsor of the Wellington conference, Canadian company CAE, is responsible for training US drone pilots.

Lockheed Martin’s chief executive, Marillyn Hewson, has suggested that continued “volatility” in the Middle East and Asia make them “growth areas” for the company. It is clear that weapons manufacturers are unashamedly exploiting regional geopolitical tensions to peddle their products and services. They are the unseen actors in conflicts such as those raging across Syria and Yemen, fuelling and profiteering from war and human misery. They are the men (and women) in the shadows. Such merchants of death should have no place in our fine city – or our nation.

Grassroots activists are planning on using nonviolent direct action to delay, disrupt and ultimately stop this year’s weapons conference. They deserve our fullest support.

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12 Responses to “Wellington should not host weapons conference”

  1. kithairiperera Says:

    Well done Sanji , keep up the good work to promote the progress of civilization

  2. jacob swegstance Says:

    Do you believe that New Zealand should not maintain a defense force? If New Zealand can benefit from buying weapons to defend itself and it’s interests why should that be turned down?

    • Sanji Gunasekara Says:

      I believe that we need to think about the wider implications beyond just the narrow benefit to New Zealand. I also do not think the New Zealand taxpayer should contribute towards the profits of a US company that makes nuclear weapons and missiles for the unlawful drone assassination programme.

  3. balance beam Says:

    FYI This post is being discussed here: https://www.reddit.com/r/newzealand/comments/3rtpny/wellington_should_not_host_weapons_conference/
    In particular there is some criticism of it: https://www.reddit.com/r/newzealand/comments/3rtpny/wellington_should_not_host_weapons_conference/cwrdxp6

  4. Xposter Says:

    Xposted from reddit comments:

    The Defence Industry Association Annual Forum, despite what the author says, is NOT a weapons conference. It is simply a conference for industries and companies to show of their products and systems to Defence force high-ups. These include things like radios, vehicles, filing cabinets, spanners, laptops etc with a defence orientation. Toughbooks and waterproof shit and that sort of thing.

    There very well may be weapons, I can’t say there won’t be, but if there are they’ll be small-arms and irrelevant. The NZDF takes tenders on weapon systems and they are already locked in for the near future. No one at this conference will be “plying wares” meant for death and destruction of the masses. If anything the majority of products on show will serve the purpose of both increasing the safety of our members of NZDF, and the country by providing opportunity to increase efficiency and effectiveness of our primary avenues of defence. Hey, that might even save us money! Everyone likes money!

    This conference has nothing to do with killing people or mass murder as much as the author would like it to. Everything beyond paragraph one is basically off-topic rambling anyway and provides no explanation as to why a defence conference is a bad idea.

    While I’m at it, here are the info-graphics the so called activists who plan to disrupt the conference use to aid their “argument”:

    Thales make radios. ‘Apparently’ they are involced in a joint venture with Airbus to create nuclear warheads but I can’t find this anywhere. We use their radios.

    Lockheed Martin: Um, yea, cool. That’s not exactly a bad thing. We use Lockheed Martin aircraft to patrol our EEZ and police our fisheries and borders. We also use them to get equipment and supplies into, and people in need out of, areas where natural disasters have occurred.

    CAE: I’m pretty sure they made a simulator for our aircrew to train on A-109 helicopters. It’s pretty cool and doesn’t kill anyone.

    GHD: Never heard of them or their products

    Babcock: Aids in maintenance of our Navy, sure. They don’t make weapons or have anything to do with them.

    Safeair: Even more of a stretch. They maintain our aircraft in long-term maintenance. Nothing to do with weapons. also lol that isn’t a P3 Orion.

    None of these are explained in any way. NZDF is one of the lowest funded militaries in the western world with one of the largest SAR and EEZ regions to maintain for our size.

    Frigates ≠ weapons. They carry them, sure, but I’m sure you’d prefer not to have a wider gaping hole in our defence. We’ve only got two, chill out.

    This is unsubstantiated. This money is not being used, nor confirmed for any upgrades and C-17s are completely off the cards.

    Social welfare in NZ receives about 7 times more than the NZDF all up. You can’t cherry-pick a small part of the numbers in the largest chunk of the budget to further your cause and compare it to the entire NZDF.
    Source: http://www.interest.co.nz/news/75583/budget-2015-summary-all-spending-plans

    • Miranda Smith Says:

      Enjoyed the read Xposter. Some interesting points.
      One thing. Lockheed Martin was some devastating weaponry. That’s without doubt but because NZ only uses the lovely friendly cuddly bits we should welcome them here? I think not.
      Here’s a quote from one of their websites. “These weapon systems include precision strike weapons with long stand-off ranges to keep pilots and aircraft out of harm’s way. ” Not those at the other end though. They tend to get obliterated…

    • Ryan Menzies Says:

      Damn i would be keen to see us own a couple globemasters though…

  5. jcbellerby2 Says:

    jacob swegstance we do not need weapons – we are not at war with anyone and it’s time we stopped sucking up to and being pressurised by the biggest war mongers on the planet, the US & Britain. Defence forces everywhere would be put to far more positive and better use if they returned to their homes and put their skills and energy to use in building good community, being with their families and using their skills in productive not destructive ways. And yes I know we do ‘peace keeping’ but if the US etc were not so belligerent and greedy and downright disgusting in their military behaviour and their resources/financial greed, there would be no need to ‘peace keep’. Having a weapons conference here is disgusting. Shame on Wellington City Council.

  6. laptoplounge Says:

    Reblogged this on laptoplounge's Blog.

  7. Pam Vernon Says:

    Reblogged this on Rangitikei Enviromental Health Watch and commented:
    Interesting timing with Operation katipo underway in the South Island. Do we really need to be promoting war? What of peace. Our nuclear free stance? Is it all just rhetoric by a country that’s hell bent on serving the corporations? Witness Key’s determination to rope us into the TPPA.

  8. Freda Tarot Says:

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    Horrors! There’s just one awful thing after another in New Zealand. Our beautiful country is turning to shyte.

  9. Wellington City should not host weapons conference… | Petes New Hangout… Says:

    […] Should Not Host Weapons Conference November 14 2015 | From: WakeUpKiwi via SanjiGunasekara Between November 17 and 18, Wellington will host 200 of the world’s largest weapons […]

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