Wellington antiwar protest against John Howard

Philip Ferguson plf13 at it.canterbury.ac.nz
Sun Mar 9 19:36:17 MST 2003


Australian PM John Howard is in New Zealand for a few days and has been
met with protests.

Below is a mainstream news report of the Wellington protest against
Howard today.  Paul Hopkinson, who is mentioned in the report, is a
member of *revolution* and a leading figure in the Anti-Capitalist
Alliance in Wellington.  An ex-soldier and former factory worker, he
currently teaches at Porirua College, one of the poorest high schools in
NZ.  Paul was the ACA candidate in the area in the 2002 general elections.

600 is a very good number for a weekday lunchtime protest:





Rowdy protest marks state luncheon
10 March 2003

UPDATED REPORT

Protesters chanted "no blood for oil", whistled, thumped drums and set
fire to flags outside Parliament today, as a state luncheon for
Australian prime minister John Howard took place inside.


Rowdy whistling and chanting from about 600 anti-war protestors was
inaudible from the Banquet Hall, where New Zealand Prime Minister Helen
Clark and dignitaries were hosting Mr Howard.

Tomatoes hurled by protesters also failed to make much of a mark,
clearing a line of police officers before splattering harmlessly on the
steps of Parliament.

Green MPs Sue Kedgley, Ian Ewen-Street and Keith Locke were among the
protesters.

Green MPs boycotted the state luncheon after co-leaders Jeanette
Fitzsimons and Rod Donald called Mr Howard a "warmonger" who backed an
invasion of Iraq.

Neither co-leader was among the protesters as promised, after low cloud
closed Wellington airport and prevented them flying in.

Mr Donald got as close as Palmerston North, then flew back home to
Christchurch.

Ms Fitzsimons was still stranded in Auckland, a Greens spokesman told NZPA.

The protesters ranged from secondary school students in uniform, to
suit-and-tie businessmen, standard issue rastafarian youths and elderly
women.

As speeches were made, an Uncle Sam figure massaged the scalp of a
protester made up to look like Mr Howard.

A protester wearing a face mask of United States President George W Bush
and one with a mask of Mr Howard embraced and writhed on the ground,
miming an act usually done in private.

Australia has been one of the most firm supporters of the US over the
need for direct action against Iraq.

Wellington teacher Paul Hopkinson, 37, burnt New Zealand and Australian
flags, amid loud cheering.

"Both flags stand for imperialism," he said.

"New Zealand has been supporting the sanctions on Iraq, just like
Australia has. They've killed about one and a half million people."

Wainuiomata man Mike Rigg, 47, set fire to a New Zealand flag he had got
from the $2 Shop.

He said he was angry Miss Clark was inside talking to Mr Howard, when
she had refused to talk to special needs protesters who took court
action against the government.

Mr Howard arrived in New Zealand on Saturday for regular bilateral
talks. He leaves this afternoon.

His visit takes in the 20th anniversary of the Closer Economic Relations
agreement between New Zealand and Australia.

The Green Party had called on the Government to revoke his invitation to
visit.

Just 12 protesters - four of them children - greeted Mr Howard at the
National War Memorial in Wellington this morning.

It was Mr Howard's first engagement of the day in the capital.

As he arrived at the memorial for a wreath laying ceremony, a lone
protester called out "We don't want war" and "No more war, John".

Mr Howard appeared not to notice.

He was greeted by Colonel Andrew Renton-Green, chairman of the National
War Memorial advisory council, before being ushered inside the building
for the service.

At its conclusion, Mr Howard and his entourage left, the vocal protester
still trying to get his message across.

"Don't send any more men to their deaths, John."

Mr Howard had an hour-long meeting with cabinet ministers before he and
Miss Clark held a joint press conference.

Most questions from Australian and New Zealand media were about Iraq.

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