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People from all around New Zealand will be converging on Blenheim and the super-secret Waihopai satellite interception spybase, in Marlborough, on the weekend of January 21-23. The Wikileaks NZ cables reveal the central role that this spybase plays in the secret intelligence relationship between NZ and the US, proving what the Anti-Bases Campaign has been saying all along. Full US/NZ intelligence ties were secretly restored in 2009.
The war in Afghanistan, in which the NZ military is directly involved (with the SAS displaying the “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality favoured by the US military), has got dramatically worse. Simultaneously, the US is dangling a Free Trade Agreement, via the Trans Pacific Partnership as NZ’s “reward” – nothing has changed since Holyoake’s “guns for butter” catchcry of the Vietnam War years. Now it’s guns for milk.
The theme of our activities, both at the spybase and in Blenheim, will be anti-war. The US says that Intelligence is the key component of all the wars that it is fighting, or planning to fight, throughout the world. The Anti-Bases Campaign (supported by the Wikileaks cables) points out that Waihopai, an important source of intelligence for the Pentagon, is New Zealand’s most important contribution to the American war machine and it means that we New Zealanders have blood on our hands.To symbolise that, our props will include crosses, coffins and white masks. This will be the first protest at the spybase since the March 2010 acquittal of the Ploughshares peace activists for the 2008 deflation of one of its domes. As part of our activities we will be celebrating that acquittal.
Waihopai, of course, is a “New Zealand” base – or so the Government says. The fact is, however, that in everything but name it is an outpost of American intelligence – paid for by the long suffering NZ taxpayer. Between $500 million and $1 billion of public money has been spent on the NZ Government Communications Security Bureau (the agency which runs Waihopai) in the 23 years of Waihopai’s operation. That money could have been much better utilised on health and education, not spying on behalf of Uncle Sam.
On Saturday 22nd we will meet in Blenheim’s Seymour Square at 11 am. From there we will march through central Blenheim, with speeches at the band rotunda in the Forum. This will be followed by a visit to the Waihopai spybase itself at 2 pm. Information will be provided on the function of the base and there will be a peaceful protest, calling for its closure. Speakers, either in Blenheim and/or the spybase, will be: Peter Murnane, one of the three acquitted Ploughshares peace activists; Keith Locke, Green MP; John Minto, of Global Peace and Justice Auckland; and Murray Horton of Anti-Bases Campaign.
Waihopai does not operate in the national interest of New Zealand. In all but name it is a foreign spybase on NZ soil, paid for with hundreds of millions of our tax dollars, and directly involves us in America’s wars. Waihopai must be closed. (For details on Waihopai and what it does, go to our Website www.converge.org.nz/abc).