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Arrests at Tibet protest,Wellington
15 Sep 1999
Today, I was part of a small and peaceful protest about Tibet, outside the Park Royal Hotel in Wellington. I ended up getting arrested. I believe this was wrongful arrest and is a violation of my rights as a person living in a so called democracy - New Zealand.
As you may know, President Jiang of China was in Wellington today. I was part of a small peaceful protest about Tibet. We stood in our spot behind the barricades where we had been told by police to stand. There were only a handful of us maybe 15 or 20 at the most. After about half an hour of fairly low key protest, a group of police came running round the corner in file, chanting aggressively, and forcibly moved through us, cutting us off from our position by the barricade. They then forcibly pushed and shoved us along the footpath, took signs away from us, took our megaphone, tried to push Tibetan flags down.
We tried to find out why we were being forcibly removed and were told we would be arrested if we did not move, as we were causing an obstruction.There were a number of other pedestrians and spectators standing round us who were not being moved in order to clear this supposed 'obstruction'. When asked why these people were not being moved, police replied "because they are not protesting".
After being pushed and shoved by police, several of us refused to move any further, believing it was our legal right to protest peacefully, and to speak our views freely. We were arrested, removed to a paddy wagon, and then put in police cells until 4 in the afternoon.
Apparently, President Jiang had said to NZ that he "did not want to see protests". Therefore, we were forcibly removed from his sight and several of us arrested. Both actions denied our right to free speech and protest.
This is a shameful and sad day for NZ democracy. I have contacted Wellington media, but I guess it will just disappear into the morass of other undemocratic activities carried out in the name of "security" and the "law". These actions are those of a police state, where free speech and freedom to protest is denied ordinary people under the guise of the "law".
I appear in court on Friday and will be charged with obstruction. I will be pleading not guilty.