Clashes broke out on Thursday, February 10, near the New Zealand Parliament, in Wellington, between police and anti-vaccine protesters against Covid-19, who had gathered for three days and more than 120 of them were arrested.
Police intervened, Thursday, February 11, in Wellington, to disperse a gathering of anti-vaccine protesters, in front of Parliament. The purpose of the measure was to dismantle an impromptu camp erected near the institution, while Maori activists sang a haka with cheers. “holding positions” In the face of police advances.
The latter received punches and kicks while insulting them with slogans such as ‘This is not a democracy’And the “shame on you” or Abandonment of obligation. Authorities closed the Parliament campus, which is rare, to prevent protesters from receiving reinforcements.
Police advanced to the parliament building but retreated behind barricades in the late afternoon as protesters chanted and shouted victory. The evacuation could take days, according to Wellington Police Chief Corrie Parnell, who accuses some activists of using children as human shields to fend off police. “It is unfortunate that although the square was officially closed to the public earlier today, a number of protesters are refusing repeated requests to leave the compound.”did he say.
The rally, which began on Tuesday, echoed the freedom convoys that Canadian truck drivers began at the end of January to denounce the vaccination obligation to cross the border with the United States. After leaving Vancouver, they had been laying siege to the capital, Ottawa, for a week and inspired similar moves in other countries. Especially in Reunion, where a demonstration is planned this weekend.
In New Zealand, hundreds of caravans and trucks closed down the Parliament district in Wellington on Tuesday. Most of them left after 24 hours but a solid core remained determined to stay there “As long as necessary”.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said residents’ patience with the disruption caused by this mobilization had been exhausted and the police had to step in. “City streets have closed, shops and businesses have been forced to close, and people feel threatened and intimidated by some protesters”He told Radio New Zealand before the police move, for which a hundred reinforcements were sent.
Residents of the capital have complained of being attacked for wearing protective masks and many businesses close to Parliament have had to close their doors because their employees have asked to check health entry permits. Wellington City Hall has warned that its agents will start issuing tickets for vehicles blocking streets as part of the mobilization of anti-sanitary measures.
A woman, who declined to be named, accused the police of provoking the crowd. It was a peaceful protest, and what they did is a disgrace.” ‘I never imagined seeing this in New Zealand’she added.
New Zealand has made vaccination against Covid-19 mandatory for people working in the health, police, education and defense sectors. Those who refuse face the risk of dismissal. Proof of vaccination is required at restaurants, sporting events, and religious services. According to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, ‘96% of New Zealanders have been vaccinated’.