NZ protests swell, defying police ultimatum — Analysis

Protestors against vaccines ignored warnings from authorities not to go voluntarily

Hundreds of protesters defied a police ultimatum to leave the area around Wellington’s ‘Beehive’ parliament on Wednesday, with the crowd continuing to swell. The authorities have described the ongoing demonstration as “Orderly.”

Inspired by the ‘Freedom Convoy’ in Canada, activists have blocked several roads in the capital with trucks, vans and motorcycles for nine days. The grounds are also home to protestors who have set up camp on the ground in front of the unique parliament building. 

The police asked that demonstrators leave the area on Tuesday. Otherwise, they warned them that authorities will begin towing and seizing vehicles.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Assistant Police Commissioner Richard Chambers said that there had been an “influx” of protesters, including children, around parliament, but added that the crowd was “Orderly.”

“This is a very complex situation, and we are mindful of the tactics we need to take so that the situation is not escalated,”Chambers added that about 450 vehicles were blocking the site.

On Wednesday, the chief of police stated that some progress had been made in engaging protest leaders and about a dozen vehicles were leaving on their own accord.

The protests began in opposition to vaccine mandates but have expanded to include broader resistance to New Zealand’s Covid-19 restrictions, which are among the strictest and longest lasting in the world. 

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Speaking to RT, Franko Heke, a musician and meditation teacher who has been at the forefront of the activism, said that New Zealand’s vaccine mandate is doing far more harm than Covid itself.

It’s “tearing apart families, stripping away jobs from needy and hardworking New Zealanders, sending our country’s mental health through the floor and upping our suicide rates, all for the now weakest strand of the virus,”He stated.

“We have become so afraid of dying that we’re not living and it’s time for everyone to choose for themselves about what they put in their bodies,”He added.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has labeled the demonstrations as an “imported” phenomenon and has refused to consider loosening restrictions, including border controls, which have cut thousands of expatriate New Zealanders cut off from families.

Due to the Omicron variant spreading, the country has its highest current infection rate since 2003. Over 1,100 infections were reported Wednesday. New Zealand reported around 223,000 infections and 53 deaths on Wednesday.

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