Thursday, October 27, 2016

National bans protesting against US ship visit

Next month the US will be sending a non-nuclear-armed (but possibly cluster-bomb-armed) ship to New Zealand to participate in the New Zealand Navy's birthday party. As the representative of a military currently bombing children in at least seven countries, the USS Sampson is likely to attract protests on the water. So National has simply banned them:

Protest boats will be banned from parts of Auckland's harbour during a historic visit by a United States warship.

The US Navy is sending the USS Sampson to Auckland for the Royal New Zealand Navy's 75th birthday next month - the first visit by an American ship in 33 years.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges today declared the International Naval Review a Major Maritime Event.

That meant vessels not taking part in the review would have to stay clear of restricted areas in the Waitemata Harbour, Rangitoto Channel and parts of the inner Hauraki Gulf.

Bridges said the restrictions were intended to "ensure the safety of everyone on the water, including people who are not part of the event"

Bullshit. What it's actually intended to do is prevent the navy's birthday celebration being "marred" by the visible presence of people who don't like them or their choice of friends. And that's simply not a legitimate public purpose. This protest ban is a clear violation of the rights of freedom of expression and assembly enshrined in the Bill of Rights Act. The only question is whether the courts find that before or after National's police arrest someone under it.