12 members of the Aotearoa Clown Army were arrested today in a quiet cul-de-sac in a suburb of Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand.
The clowns were part of a protest at the home of the the chairman of the New Zealand Defence Industry Association (NZDIA) in the lead up to Tuesday the 17 when peace and justice activists from all over Aotearoa will attempt to blockade the conference which is being held at the national museum Te Papa. The Clown Army turned up at about 1:30pm with drums, banners and loud chanting. On their departure the clowns were stopped by 4 police cars, and held until a paddy wagon arrived. All 12 were arrested and taken down to the police station. All were charged with “unlawfully being on a property.”
Aotearoa Indymedia reported that, the clowns were given bail conditions that prohibted them from associating with each other and going within 400 metres of Neal Garnett’s house nor within 400 metres of Neal Garnett himself. An obvious attempt to stop the protests outside the conference because Neal Garnett is the first speaker on Tuesday at the arms fair.
The protest follows a similar action in Wellington’s CBD where protestors visited New Zealand Trade and Enterprise a government agency which over the past five years, has given more than $600,000 to Auckland-based company Rakon that makes components for US ‘smart bombs’. Rakon has explicitly said that they want to ‘grow their share of the lucrative guided munitions market.’ Rakon has already been the target of two protests this year including a Auckland University Students for Justice in Palestine led picket of their shareholder annual general meeting.
Activists from all over Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally will be holding a number of demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday in an attempt to disrupt and even shut down the conference. 2006 marks the fifth year of protests against the weapons conference in Wellington.Last year 20 clowns were arrested in a blockade in front of Te Papa, Maori for “Our Place”. Report and Photos