US Consulate To Citizens: Stay Away From New Zealand TPP Protest

Stay away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership protest taking place Saturday in New Zealand’s largest city, the United States Consulate has warned its citizens.

The Auckland action is one of over 20 that organizers have planned as part of a national day of action against the controversial pending trade deal.

The Consulate’s security message reads, in part: “Approximately 8,000 people are expected to attend the protest. We urge citizens to avoid the protest march route as even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational. We remind citizens to always exercise caution when in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.”

Greens trade spokesperson Russel Norman, who is taking part in the actions, told Radio New Zealand that such fears are unfounded.

“I’d just say to the U.S. Embassy, Auckland isn’t Ferguson and the police won’t be shooting people,” he said. “It’ll be a peaceful demonstration, they should just relax and maybe they should come along—they might learn something.”

Barry Coates, who will MC the Auckland action, said, “This week’s national day of action, including in Auckland, will send a simple message to the government: now it the time to walk away from the negotiations.”

Part of the controversy surrounding the trade pact is the secrecy with which it has been negotiated; most of what is publicly known is because of leaks, prompting Edward Miller, spokesperson for It’s Our Future, an organization that seeks to highlight dangers of trade agreements, to say, “As we have asked many times, ‘What is the government so determined to hide?'”

“We want to live in a genuine democracy that puts people, not foreign investors and multinational corporations, first. We want the right to decide our own futures, as befits a modern democracy,” Miller added.

Urging people to take part in one of the actions across the nation, Nick Young, Head of Digital at Greenpeace NZ, writes Friday that “if it goes through the secretive TPP deal could be a real threat to our democracy, our society and our environment.”

“For example, under the TPP, a clause could be included that would prevent any future, progressive NZ government from strengthening laws to protect our coastlines from oil drilling or our national parks from mining, because foreign companies like Statoil or Shell could sue Kiwi taxpayers for the loss of profit,” Young writes.

Thought negotiations taking place in Maui recently failed to reach a deal, New Zealand’s Prime Minster John Key told the BBC this week that he was confident a final agreement would be reached by the end of the year.

And as Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Maira Sutton warned last week: “Despite an increasing number of signs that the deal might be in trouble, we can’t be assured that the TPP is actually dead.”