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Posts Tagged ‘weapons’

Trigger Issues - Kalashnikov AK47

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

By Gideon Burrows

ak_photo“Kalashnikov” explains the arms trade, politics and culture through the lens of the world’s deadliest weapon and shows how its direct social effects have swept across whole continents. Some 90 million of these guns exist - and they do not die when their owners do. They are now made in dozens of countries and have been fired in hundreds of conflicts since their introduction. In contrast, campaigns round the world are removing guns from gangs and communities. As they are recycled and made into sculptures might the Kalashnikov one day be seen as a symbol of peace?

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Changing the world one word at a time

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Global Bits - Issue 16 (24 Pages)

Global Education Centre

cover-art-issue-161This Global Bits offers readers a chance to look inside the heads of our future leaders – and to understand the issues and passions that drive them. Open to all 12-18 year olds, 10 young people were picked for this programme for the first time in 2008. In this issue these creative and savvy new authors relate history to global politics. They unravel subjects such as international guidelines for human rights the difference between actual and relative poverty, and just how democracy works.

Watch this space for our new group in 2009!

Download PDF 5.44MB

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50 facts that should change the world

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

By Jessica Williams

learningAt the risk of sounding sensationalist…did you know that a third of the world is at war, 30 million people in Africa are HIV positive and more than 150 countries use torture.

The facts and information provided in this book is often missed, glossed over or hidden by government and the media. So to continue: cars kill 2 people every minute, landmines kill or maim a person every hour…

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In any way: Closing the door on munitions manufacturers

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

By Elliot Taylor

In May 2008, much of the world will join together in Dublin to formally negotiate a treaty to ban the use, development, production, trade, and stockpiling of cluster munitions The finer details — like who’s providing lunch and whether or not U2 will be at the mayoral reception — are still to be confirmed. What remains to be seen, however, is what effect this has, not only on manufacturers, but also on those that finance them.

dollar signYou could be forgiven for thinking that, walking into a Barclays Bank on the Rue Turenne in Paris, you’re the furthest away possible from the cluster munitions that rained down on Lebanon in 2006. It certainly doesn’t cross my mind when I stroll into a New Zealand National Bank - whose owner, ANZ, was part of an international syndicate providing weapons manufacturer Raytheon with a US$2.2 billion five-year revolving credit facility in 2005. Sure, it’s an easy mistake to make, but the fact is that all around the world, banks, insurance companies, pension funds, and other financial institutions are investing in the arms race. A race the Wellington Cluster Munitions Conference in February 2008 helped provide a much needed handbrake to.
Cluster Munition Conference
Admittedly, during a lunchtime talk on cluster bomb manufacturers and surrounding issues at the conference last month (Feb 08), Mark Hiznay helped shine the light on these issues. The senior researcher of the Human Rights Watch Arms Division pointed out to me his concern over a certain phrase that has seemed to have fallen off the page of Article 1 of the current treaty text: “In any way.”

“It’s been dropped,” Mark said, as he carefully wrote it in on my copy so that I didn’t forget. “This is in the Mine Ban Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. This ‘in any way’, has been interpreted by legislatures to mean financial investment; direct or indirect financial investment. That’s been their hook into it.”

And it’s a hook that makes a world of sense. If a government, on humanitarian grounds, is willing to legislate against the use of cluster munitions, it’s only logical for them to also legislate against investment in any company that is involved in the manufacturing of such weapons. Any honourable government would not continue to allow local financial institutions to invest in industries that stand in stark contrast to its own policies.

Not surprisingly, Norway has again led the way on this issue with its Council on Ethics for the Government Pension Fund. Worth more than $300 billion, this is one of the largest pension funds in the world, so a little ethics is deemed appropriate. The role of the council is to “provide evaluation on whether or not investment in specified companies is inconsistent with the established ethical guidelines.” And from the presentation at the conference by Gro Nystuen, Chair of that Council, it sounds like it’s doing a pretty sterling job.

Belgium has also legislated against investment in companies producing cluster munitions, and according to Mark Hiznay, “the attitude of the Belgium banks shifted overnight. They realised that there’s going to be a new financial regulation that they have to comply with and they were falling over themselves to do it, because they didn’t want to be on the wrong side of their law.”

Similarly, Miriam Struyk of Pax Christi Netherlands has been making some noise on the issue in her home country. After a documentary highlighting the issue was aired on TV, the media latched on to the story, resulting in many pension funds withdrawing their unethical investments — even without government legislation.

These are promising developments. Sure, these may be examples of countries that have achieved certain levels of divestment without international legislation, but they are few and far between. There are also few positive examples yet here in New Zealand. Like Mark Hiznay, I hope the Oslo Process results in a treaty that will raise the call to never assist in any way those that manufacturer these deadly weapons. We need to close the door on assistance and throw away the key.

This article originally appeared in Cluster Ban News, Vol 1 Issue 3, 20 February 2008.



Oxfam campaigns against Cluster Bombs
Aotearoa New Zealand Stop Cluster Munition Coalition site
Wikipedia entry on Cluster bombs
Human Right Watch collection of documents on Cluster bombs
Heaps of info on
Factsheet on cluster bombs on BBC news site

Cluster Bombs: A Weapon out of Control - Human Rights Watch video on YouTube
A short film documenting the lethal effects of the use of cluster munitions worldwide, with commentary, new statistics and analysis from military experts at Human Rights Watch. The footage shows how cluster munitions have endangered civilian populations from the Vietnam era through current conflicts in Iraq and Lebanon.
Watch a video report on how thousands of unexploded cluster munitions still cover the battlefields and are wounding many unintended victims (civilians) in Lebanon.

Public Action: Let the chalk talk

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

By Elliot Taylor

chalk protest against cluster bombsThe sun bore down on Civic Square at high noon on 20 February 2008 as members of the public, diplomatic representatives, and civil society activists joined forces on the warmed cobblestones, their frames outlined in chalk as a visual protest organised by the Aotearoa New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition. Delegates rushed to apply sun block after rumours circulated of the depleted ozone layer looming above New Zealand. Placards in many languages were held high — Portuguese, Thai, French, Spanish, Sanskrit, and English. Indian and Pakistani stood side by side with one voice. With her equally powerful voice, Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Laureate, let loose from an invisible soapbox and the media loved every moment. In some respects, it was glorious advocacy. Public action as we wish it always is.

Yet what it represented is far less glorious.

“I think it’s disgusting the kind of damage that these cluster bombs do,” said 18-year-old Sam Oldham, after signing his name inside a chalk outline. “I’m definitely hoping that they’ll be banned.”

Lwindi Ellis, PR Director of Draft FCB, whose company dreamt up the public stunt, desires the same. “The more that I’ve learnt about cluster bombs, the more horrified I am that they still exist. I’m hoping that it will be a strong treaty in the end.”

Tania Mead, a 20-year-old student at Victoria University, found the visual aspect of the public stunt especially powerful. “I think this is a really important way of personifying your anger and your frustration that these kinds of weapons are still used with impunity. It’s a really great visual gesture in terms of trying to raise people’s awareness about what’s going on and how to prevent it.”

The simple message of this action needs to be emphasised: imagine Civic Square littered with victims of cluster munitions . Laura, Ian, Shamim, Becky, Elliot. They may have only been chalk outlines, but the names are real. cluster bomb survivors at protest in WellingtonImagine the victims of cluster munitions on the streets of your own capital. For some, that exercise may not be that tough. Still, the question remains, how close do the repercussions of deadly weapons have to get before empathy hits home? An ally? A neighbouring country? Our front doorstep?

The ever-effervescent Margaret Taylor of Amnesty International believes the buck stops here. “No exceptions. No outs. The sanest approach is to ensure that cluster munitions are banned full stop,” she stated firmly, with chalk in hand. “We need to stop seeing, 20 years after a war, people injured because of unexploded cluster munitions. And those victims, those survivors, need to be given recompense and a fresh start in life.”

Justin, a New Yorker residing in New Zealand, has seen first hand the effects of cluster munitions and landmines on civilians in South East Asia. For him the event was a timely reminder of these experiences abroad. “Everyone has a family member who’s either died or been maimed… It’s very traumatic. You feel horrible. It’s probably our responsibility. And if we can try to limit that for the future generations, then, well, that’s why we’re here.”

Phil Goff receieving a ban cluster bomb petition
On the evening following the public stunt, at a parliamentary reception, the delegation of cluster survivors dropped almost 3,000 petition signatures at the feet of New Zealand’s Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, Phil Goff. Stunned at first, the Minister quickly recovered to thank the campaign for the ringing endorsement of support for his mission to establish the cluster ban treaty. He picked up one of the signed cluster bomb flyers and said, “If every one of these petitions was a vote for the cluster munitions treaty we’ll be on track to get a good result.” And the chalk echoes his call.

This article originally appeared in Cluster Ban News, Vol 1 Issue 4, 21 February 2008.


Oxfam campaigns against Cluster Bombs
Aotearoa New Zealand Stop Cluster Munition Coalition site
Wikipedia entry on Cluster bombs
Human Right Watch collection of documents on Cluster bombs
Heaps of info on
Factsheet on cluster bombs on BBC news site

Cluster Bombs: A Weapon out of Control - Human Rights Watch video on YouTube
A short film documenting the lethal effects of the use of cluster munitions worldwide, with commentary, new statistics and analysis from military experts at Human Rights Watch. The footage shows how cluster munitions have endangered civilian populations from the Vietnam era through current conflicts in Iraq and Lebanon.
Watch a video report on how thousands of unexploded cluster munitions still cover the battlefields and are wounding many unintended victims (civilians) in Lebanon.


Write a letter (you can simply adapt the example one on the Cluster Munition coalition site) asking that the New Zealand Superannuation Fund stops investing in companies that produce cluster bombs such as weapons manufacturers Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

Sign up for updates from Peace Movement Aotearoa at and receive CMC campaign bulletins by contacting

Sign the petition on the Handicap International site calling for a ban on Cluster Bombs

Cluster munition survivor turned campaigner

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

An interview with Soraj Ghulam Habib
By Mava Moayyed

It’s difficult to envision the turmoil that Soraj Ghulam Habib experienced six years ago. To lose both legs is terrifying in itself, but the lasting implications of such an injury are far greater than the initial blow. Imagine absolute dependence on a hunk of metal with wheels. Imagine realising that this did not have to happen to you. At the tender age of ten years, Soraj experienced more grief than an average New Zealander would experience over their lifetime, but he has emerged strong and positive, “I never thought I face this kind of problem, but it happened and only God knows why. I am angry, but it is done and I’m always happy that I am alive,” he says.
Soraj Ghulam Habib
Now a sixteen-year-old teenager, Soraj radiates joy and passion. His presence at this conference is twofold—he serves as a reminder of the devastating effects of cluster munitions but even more importantly he is an ardent lobbyist and campaigner against the weapon. Dubbed a “wheelchair warrior” by the Wellington newspaper, Soraj says, “I feel I have a big role to play here because of the countries that are asking for transition periods and interoperability—I will lobby against them.”

Soraj’s desire to have cluster munitions banned with no leeway or margin for compromise comes from his firsthand experience of the social and economic effects of the weapon on his family and community. “I have bad feelings towards cluster munitions. In those areas where cluster munitions have been used, the community is affected greatly. There are people that have lost their lives forever. People who were injured have become disabled, but they have also lost all the dreams they had before,” he explains.

As a child, Soraj anticipated he would grow up to serve his community and work towards peace in Afghanistan. After surviving a cluster submunition explosion, Soraj felt that he had lost the ability to fulfil his dreams, “When I was lying in the bed in the hospital I thought I won’t be alive in the future because I lost a lot of blood from my legs and finger. I was so close to dying.” With his family faced with the challenge of a son in a wheel chair, Soraj felt guilty and angry that he could not do anything for them.

Soraj is, however, fulfilling his dreams. He is a key figure in the campaign against cluster munitions and has no intention of slowing down, “I have a lot of big plans for the next ten years. In Wellington, I am trying to lobby with the bad guys to convince them to ban cluster bombs When I go back to Afghanistan, I will campaign to convince my government and my country to dispose of these and other weapons.”

Soraj directs his last piece of advice to the leaders and government attending the conference, “I call on all to see my reality and ban the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of cluster munitions. It really harms the civilians and the communities that just want a peaceful life.
Do not destroy your child’s future. Do not destroy your communities’ future. Take a moment and really find the opportunity to stop the devastation.”

This article (and the photo) originally appeared in Cluster Ban News, Vol 1 Issue 3, 20 February 2008


Oxfam campaigns against Cluster Bombs
Aotearoa New Zealand Stop Cluster Munition Coalition site
Wikipedia entry on Cluster bombs
Human Right Watch collection of documents on Cluster bombs

Here, have some chemicals! Do forgive us if we kill you for using them

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

Hannah Newport

So, they are going to hang him. Can’t say I’ll miss the fellow. I didn’t know him personally, but from what I can gather from the media, some sources more trustworthy than others, he wasn’t the kindest chap since the Easter bunny. nooseBut as much as I dislike Saddam Hussein, I dislike the hypocrisy of his death sentence even more so. After all, the death he was so apt at condemning upon his Iraqi people, would not have been possible without our good western generosity. Shouldn’t we feel proud!

The US was more than happy with its cushy little business arrangements with Iraq until it didn’t suit them any more. A report entitled “United States Chemical and Biological Warfare-related Dual-use exports to Iraq and their possible impact on the Health Consequences (sic) of the Persian Gulf War” was produced for congress in 1994. It detailed US government-approved shipments of biological agents sent by American companies to Iraq between 1985 and 1991, when Kuwait was “liberated”.

The chemicals detailed in the report as having been exported included Bacillus anthracis, which produces anthrax; Clostridium botulinum; Histoplasma capsulatum; Brucella melitensis; Clostridium perfringens and Escherichia coli. The same report stated that the US provided Saddam with “dual use” licensed materials which assisted in the development of chemical, biological and missile-system programmes, including chemical warfare agent production facility plant and technical drawings of pesticide production facility plans.

But it would be plain rude to assume that the US was the only country clever enough to make the most of such an economic gold mine. Back in 1988, Britain was kind enough to export to Baghdad ’£200,000 worth of thiodiglycol, one of two components of mustard gas, and another ’£50,000 worth of the same vile substance the following year.

They also sent thionyl chloride to Iraq in 1988 at a price of only ’£26,000. Of course these could be used to make ballpoint ink and fabric dyes. But this was the same country - Britain - that would, eight years later, prohibit the sale of diphtheria vaccine to Iraqi children on the grounds that it could be used for - you guessed it - “weapons of mass destruction”.

How fitting then that these countries would be the first to condemn the man they once shook hands with. (Anyone else remember that cosy moment between Saddam and Donald Rumsfeld? Ah, memories…) And how lovely that now we’ve killed off the main man, we can ignore the other mass murderers who are in power in the new western-supported Iraqi government. A good chance for some reminiscing among old friends, I imagine. Don’t worry folks, we’re not picky who we do business with- war is good for the economy!

“A great day for Iraq”, was what UK Prime Minister Blair said when Saddam was sentenced to hang. Is that what he was saying when Britain was sending him chemicals of death? God only knows what Bush was saying. (Probably something like, “Chemicals we export are of a high quality, and so are the ones we send to other countries”.)

However it is that both governments manage to sleep at night (with a hefty dose of tranquilliser I imagine), it does not excuse the carnage left behind in Iraq. It does not justify the destroyed homes, the torn families and the children left without parents. It does not console the parents left without children. But what the hell, chemicals make our lives better.

Robert Fisk: This was a guilty verdict on America as well, in the Independent, 6 Nov o6


Hanging Saddam will plunge the ME into bloody chaos — on Al Jazeera, 20 Nov 2006
Iraq’s trial of Saddam assailed — International Herald Tribune, 20 Nov 2006
Saddam trial ‘flawed and unsound’
— BBC, 20 Nov 2006

What we can do for peace

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

Compiled by Youth at the Disarmament and Security Centre, Otautahi, Christchurch, NZ

lotus flowerDespite all the negative issues there are also increasingly positive steps that people the world over that are beginning to take to make changes for Peace, to live in harmony with the Earth and amongst all peoples.

  • Believe in your power to create change.
  • We are all vital links in the interconnected web of life, what we do today can make a positive difference.
  • Understand that dominant worldviews don’t always enable other people’s voices and stories to be heard. History books may be biased according to whoever wrote them.
  • Challenge yourself and others to support peace and justice and to hold these concepts at the centre of all local, national and international decision—making processes.
  • Think about the sort of world you would like your children’s children’s children to live in and work towards that!
  • Brainstorm ideas for positive change. Just as all destructive acts are acts of war, all creative acts are acts of peace.
  • Take time out to enjoy yourself, your community and your environment.



  • Find out more information on peace issues. Knowledge is power!
  • Share what you learn with friends and family.
  • Respect differences, honour diversity, learn more about another culture in your community.
  • Storytelling. Our world is made up of stories- not just atoms! Learn other people’s stories and those of your family.
  • Use the media. Write an article for a community or school newspaper. Get TV or radio interviews.
  • Find out angles that may be missing from mainstream media by consulting alternative media sources.
  • Learn more about the South Pacific Nuclear-Free zone. Push for a world without nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants.
  • Start your own group.
  • Consume less. Support conservation campaigns. Recycle, reuse and repair.
  • Practice solving conflict peacefully in your own life.
  • Avoid buying products from multinational companies.
  • Get involved in your local community. Become a volunteer.
  • Hold a stall or information display at a festival or in a public place.
  • Screen-print information or posters and distribute around friends, the community and the city.
  • Print patches or T- shirts, or wear ones others have made.
  • Write letters to decision makers.
  • Design and paint posters, banners or placards.
  • Take part in a Non-violent Direct Action (it is important to know your rights and take precaution to ensure your safety and the safety of others, remember that you are promoting peace so act PEACEFULLY)
  • Create and/or participate in Street Theatre.

people peace sign

  • Check out current events online at: or
  • Find out about local groups who work for peace and justice. Support groups that campaign for Peace nationally and internationally.
  • Check out Greenpeace and Amnesty International
  • Check out This site contains all you need to know about setting up and managing your own social or environmental campaigns.
  • Go to the Disarmament and Security Centre . It has heaps of good resources for learning about the history of NZ’s peace movement, and its anti-nuclear movement.
  • Use your consumer power to make wise decisions when buying things (buy products made in your own country, products that have minimal or no packaging, think about who made it and how they were treated, think about the impacts to communities and the environment that may incur from making the product, using the product and discarding the product). Check out adbusters
  • Grow food, help out at a local community garden. Find out what foods in Genetically Modified and what are healthier options.
  • Understand economic globalisation and its impact on people and the environment.
  • Visit the Peace Foundation Aotearoa NZ. The Peace Foundation is a 30-year old NGO that works through on Education, Action and Research.

Change doesn’t lie in the hands of governments but in ours.

DRUGS: Nobody’s is winning the war

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

Phoebe Borwick and Amy Donohue

opium poppiesThe trade behind cocaine (or coca, as the plant of origin is known) and heroin (which comes from opium poppies) is a global issue. An estimated four million people depend on income derived from the cultivation of illicit drug crops. In the year 2000, the global drug trade was estimated at a value of US$400 billion. It’s an issue worth more than the price of feeding the planet over the same period of time.

From the rainforests of South America to the remotest parts of Afghanistan to Pete Doherty’s honker, we trace the journey of the most profitable crops in the world.

From the dark ages…
Way back when we were still running around with leaves covering our lower regions, South Americans chewed the leaf of the coca plant. Often incorrectly considered a narcotic, cocaine is actually a stimulant and when chewed suppresses hunger, while increasing strength and energy.

Cue the Spaniards arriving in South America and branding coca a plant that the devil invented for the total destruction of the natives’. Or, that’s what one prominent Catholic artist declared.
They changed their minds a bit when they discovered it really did stimulate quite nicely thus legalising it and charging a nifty little tax for their own economic benefit. For a time, coca was even the main source of income for the Roman Catholic Church. Sneaky, sneaky!

…to today…
Ironically, the two most fatal drugs are still legal today and taxed to the hilt by governments around the world. Alcohol and tobacco kill more people than illicit drugs every year and are both widely accepted and available.

The very fact that other drugs are illegal increases the profit to be made. With criminals running the show, the prices skyrocket.

…to leafy fields…
Cocaine is an economical crop for farmers not only because of its high selling cost and ever-present demand, but its quick maturation period. Within one to two years of planting the seed, the coca plant’s leaves will be ready to harvest with a drying period of only six hours. And opium poppies have an even quicker yield.

…to environmental destruction…
More than 30 years ago, the US came up with the superhero tactic to rid the world, and especially their own country (where the demand was coming from), of the evil empire of narcotics. They called it the War on Drugs.
george bush
The most widespread method of destroying the coca plant in the 90s, and the opium poppy still today, was to manually pull up every single plant in a field. Time consuming and tiring, there must have been an easier way?

Consequently, air eradication with herbicides became rather popular. In as little as ten days after spraying, the plants are stripped bare of their leaves and within around 70 days, the plant will be completely dead. RIP, indeed. US-sponsored Plan Colombia was, to effect, an aerial fumigation of this country — the second most ecologically diverse in the world. Spraying caused poisoning and environmental damage.

Herbicides have been linked to diarrhoea, hair loss and skin rashes on children. Also, legal crops like bananas, coffee and pineapples are often destroyed along with the coca plant. Yes, we have no bananas. Not quite the lycra and rippling muscles the US had envisaged. In Afghanistan, post the US-led invasion, local and international troops are enlisted in eradicating poppy crops — as are schoolchildren in some provinces. This is dangerous work.

Imagine you’re a farmer who’s invested cash and time in a poppy field. How would you feel if you saw it being literally stamped out? Might make you want to protect your only chance of making a living. Where’s that gun that’s been lying around since the war? Further problems arise as more coca plants and poppies are eradicated. Demand for the drug remains constant (or grows) while there are fewer crops, resulting in the existing crops becoming more lucrative. More farmers then begin to grow the plant to take advantage of the price increase. What a conundrum!

…to poverty…
With secrecy comes vulnerability and international drug rings are not covered by fair trade agreements. Globalisation of the drug trade has led to even greater exploitation of the crop farmers along with cheaper and easier international trafficking. The globalisation of the drug trade forms a connection between organised crime, small arms, terrorism, human trafficking and all kinds of criminal and seedy life.

In 1999, nearly 80 per cent of opium cultivation took place in Afghanistan. Chances are, a gram of coke purchased in the US, Europe or New Zealand comes from a coca bush grown in the Andean countries. In fact, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru account for more than 98 per cent of the world supply. Already in poverty, working with poor soil and unempowered to change their circumstances — not to mention the influence of drug lords and anti-government groups — farmers often have no choice if they want to keep food on the table.

Yet, the War on Drugs is not being won. The US’ efforts to strip Latin America and Afghanistan of their coca and poppy crops are also stripping the livelihood of millions. While thrill-seekers in the west demand the drugs, and their governments react by trying to stop the supply, farmers will continue to grow the illicit crops unless they are offered a real alternative way to make a living.

….to terrorism…

Yes, that’s right. Terrorism. Stop or they’ll shoot (up). The links between terrorism, drugs and war are extensive and very real. In 2001, just weeks before two planes barrelled into the Twin Towers, the US pledged a further $1.5m to plump out the reported $140m in ‘humanitarian’ aid it sent to Afghanistan. Why?

Because western methods of enforcing drug cultivation laws proved ineffective, but groups with violent means available to them could whip out grenades and guns willy nilly, without a thought for morality. The Taliban was limiting drug production by threatening to shoot farmers of illicit crops. Thus, they were held in high American esteem until everything went to custard on September 11.

But the corruption ran deeper. After the attacks, the Taliban turned tail to force farmers to grow the poppies. They, and other anti-government organisations, act as trafficking middlemen and a defence force, making profit out of the trade and protecting drug smugglers with weaponry and vehicles.

Still wanna get high, butterfly?
So, you still down with shovelling that candy up your nose this Friday? Are you quite content to continue your involvement with one of the world’s deadliest industries? You don’t need to rent Traffic, Requiem for a Dream or Maria Full of Grace to understand the true repercussions of your habit on the developing countries of the world. And if you still don’t get it, then you must be wasted. Go blow your nose and have an OJ.


Afghanistan country profile
Colombia country profile
Drugs: an overview
Drug Policy Alliance is America’s leading organisation working to end the war on drugs.
The worldwide collective of committed scholar-activists at Transnational Institute
Illegal Drugs: Scourge or Globalization’s Great Equalizer? by Baylen J. Linnekin

This article was originally published in Tearaway magazine as part of the Global Focus project.

Taser Danger

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

Aleyna Martinez

Our law currently states that it is illegal for an individual to inflict an electrical shock into another person. However, recently police throughout NZ have been given taser guns which do exactly that. It is obvious in this instance, that the law doesn’t apply to those whose job it is to uphold it.

taser gunThe idea of police involvement goes in hand in hand with criminal behaviour. Law-abiding citizens, don’t actually think much about the police, in essence we don’t really know them. With all the talk of police brutality, the thought of giving a cop of that nature the power to electrocute a person frightens me.

“When fired the Taser propels two barbed darts with trailing wires that attach to the skin or clothing. Upon impact a 50,000-volt electric shock is discharged into the victim for a period of five seconds. Whilst the barbs remain attached this discharge can be repeated multiple times by pulling the trigger again (and again). The immediate effects are debilitating. The current causes involuntary muscle contraction and extreme pain. The victim completely loses control over their body and falls to the floor until the current stops. The whole experience is both painful and degrading”. Nick Lewer and Neil Davison Electrical stun weapons: alternative to lethal force or a compliance tool?

Reminds me of deer hunting. Or shooting drugs into an animal via a gun for sport. I agree that a man who is known to be dangerous and/or armed and disregarding the police would instill a bit (or a lot) of fear. Does that constitute plugging him in and electrocuting him in as if he was an animal charging at you at the zoo?

Recorded fatalities for Taser deaths in the US at the moment are 200.

The argument is, would you rather a gun? I would rather none.

National Distribution Union secretary, Laila Harre says, “The police don’t want to use tasers as a “more lethal” option than pepper spray and batons in situations that wouldn’t otherwise call for lethal force. What we are seeing is an arming of police by deception.”

In the United States you can buy taser guns on the internet. Any person can have them for personal use. Look at America and their gun laws, their citizen’s accessibility and the way they ship guns in and out. Why do we want to follow a country that has the highest amount of the population jailed per capita in the world?

At a meeting held in Pataka, in Porirua, concerns about the Taser were raised as use of it on people with high blood pressure could result in fatality. Porirua has large Pacific Island and Māori communities, where high blood pressure is common.

If the trial in New Zealand is successful, there will be more tasers for cops to use. Henceforth the police get another step closer to being allowed to carry guns.

The trial areas will be Porirua, Manukau district, North Shore/Waitakere Rodney, Auckland cities and Wellington. These areas have high poverty statistics. The reason for the high crime rates shouldn’t be a reason for Police to use tasers. People need to take responsibiilty for their actions, but resources could be used to get to the root of the problem, instead of scaring people into submission, which is what it has done so far.


  • How do tasers work, how many people use them, are they dangerous? Find out more at this Q & A site.
  • New Zealand’s campaign against police using tasers. Find out more information
  • Sign the petition against police using taser guns. Petition.
  • Learn more about tasers and other electric shock weapons. More info.