Press Release – Anti-Bases Campaign

People from all around New Zealand will be converging on Blenheim and the super-secret Waihopai satellite interception spybase, in Marlborough, on Saturday January 21st. Waihopai deals New Zealand into America’s wars in countries such as Afghanistan …11 January 2012

Waihopai Spybase Protest Saturday January 21st: End NZ Involvement in US Wars

People from all around New Zealand will be converging on Blenheim and the super-secret Waihopai satellite interception spybase, in Marlborough, on Saturday January 21st. Waihopai deals New Zealand into America’s wars in countries such as Afghanistan and is an integral part of a global network of such facilities which exist to ensure American military and economic domination of international politics.

The war in Afghanistan, in which the NZ military is directly involved (with the SAS being the most high profile component) has continued to get dramatically worse. Simultaneously, the US is pushing for a Free Trade Agreement, via the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (which the US wants to be concluded this year) as NZ’s “reward” for supplying our troops as cannon fodder and hosting the Waihopai spybase.

The theme of the Anti-Bases Campaign’s 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 (such as Afghanistan), or planning to fight (such as Iran), throughout the world. The Anti-Bases Campaign (ABC) points out that Waihopai, an important source of intelligence for the Pentagon, is New Zealand’s most important contribution to the American war machine. Much more so than any other token NZ commitments, such as the SAS. Our protest is also in solidarity with the Ploughshares peace activists who deflated one of Waihopai’s domes in 2008. They were acquitted of criminal charges but this year face a civil trial for damages.

Waihopai, of course, is a “NZ” base – or so the Government says. But the fact is that, in everything but name, it is an outpost of American intelligence – paid for by NZ taxpayers. Well over $600 million of public money has been spent on the NZ Government Communications Security Bureau (the agency which runs Waihopai) in the two decades of Waihopai’s operation. The GCSB’s 2012 budget is $56 million, and another $35 million was recently spent on a new GCSB headquarters in Wellington. That money could have been much better spent on eradicating NZ’s shameful child poverty, rather than on spying on behalf of Uncle Sam.

On Saturday 21st we will be in central Blenheim’s The Forum (corner of Market and High Streets) from 11 a.m., with speeches from 12 at the band rotunda in the Forum. This will be followed by a visit to the Waihopai spybase itself at 2 p.m. 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 at the spybase, will be: Adrian Leason, one of the three acquitted Ploughshares peace activists; Steffan Browning, Blenheim’s own newly elected Green MP; John Minto, of the Mana Party; and Murray Horton of ABC.

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 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).

ENDS

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