The National Government is aiming to turn peace activists into terrorists with the new Maritime Crimes Act.

Doug Robertson, a member of the Peace Squadron, a group that took to the seas to protest against nuclear weapons in the 1980s, says the National Government has gone too far in saying that getting in front of a warship is terrorism.

“I am really concerned that the kind of non-violent peace flotillas we did back in the 1980s could garner someone a terrorism sentence. People across Aotearoa New Zealand rightfully celebrate our nuclear-free status – that would never have happened without the peace flotillas getting in the way of nuclear armed warships.”

The wording in the current Maritime Crimes Bill was far too broad and could easily end up classifying legitimate protests and industrial action as terrorism.

“Civil disobedience is essential to democracy. A US warship is coming to New Zealand for the first time in 32 years this November, and we have every right to protest against that. We are a country of sailors and people who love the sea – so it is only natural that it is an arena for political expression. The government’s suggestion that a repeat of the 1980s peace flotillas would be terrorism shows that the National Party is willing to strip away our most basic human rights so a US warship can come into Auckland unchallenged.”

Parliament’s Defence and Foreign Affairs select committee is currently considering the Bill.

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