‘The Waihopai Virus’: Covid Plays Heavily on the Minds of Spy Base Protesters

By Stuff, January 31, 2021

It might have been their first ‘post-Trump’ protest, but the message remained the same.

About 40 people from around New Zealand descended on the Waihopai Valley Spy Base on Saturday for their annual demonstration.

Protest organiser Murray Horton summed up their point of view in 2021; the United States had changed the emperor, but not the empire.

“Joe Biden is still very much part of the American establishment. He supported war in Iraq, he was vice-president for Barack Obama when they raised the number of air strikes by drones in the covert war of terror,” Horton said.

Horton said New Zealand needed to break the remaining military and intelligence ties with the US.

“We were kicked out of the ANZUS Treaty (the Australia, New Zealand and United States Security Treaty) in 1986, we now need to break the invisible ties to be fully independent,” Horton said.

Green Party list MP Teanau Tuiono attended the protest for the first time on Saturday.

Tuiono spoke at the gates to the Government Communications Security Bureau facility in rural Marlborough, with its famous white orbs, calling for it to be dismantled.

“There are better things to spend money on. In the Royal Commission report on the terrorism attack in Christchurch in 2018 there are some recommendations about education and supporting community, we should put money there,” Tuiono said.

Tuiono said the GCSB failed to pick up the Christchurch terrorist because they took instruction from Five Eyes, the intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“The bigger eyes is America so when America has an enemy, we have an enemy.

“This spy base is part of the American empire and it is an extension of American imperialism.

“What we had with Trump was a very incompetent and incoherent version of it.

“With Biden, we will just go back to what it was, and we have to remember that under Obama there were wars and many people killed … This will continue,” Tuiono said.

Protester Pam Hughes had been coming to the annual demonstration for eight years and would keep coming for her children and grandchildren.

“Joe Biden is a bit of a hawk, not that you would call Trump a dove but it could easily be worse now.

“If Americans were true friends they would not be here. They would recognise the danger that they put [us in] by even being here. It is a threat for us,” Hughes said.

Next to her, Robin Dann agreed there was no hope with the new American president as he had been pro-war in the past.

Dann said both the spybase and Covid-19 were a virus.

“Both of them have to go. Only the method would be different. But this place kills more people than Covid-19 as long as we consent because it is our part in their wars,” Dann said.

Protest signs on the border fence depicted the base’s white orbs as virus particles.

Signs said, “NZ’s most dangerous virus is spelt GCSB not Covid”, “Eliminate the Waihopai Virus”, “Healthcare not Warfare”, “Waihopai and Covid they both kill people”.

“The money wasted on the Government Communications Security Bureau, which is hundreds of millions of dollars per year, would be better spent on public health or on preparing New Zealand for real threats,” Horton said.

Horton had been protesting the base since 1988, and he wouldn’t stop.

“I am always surprised to see the number of people who turn up.

“But we had a terrorism attack two years ago and those agencies failed to pick it up or do anything to protect the country and people realise that.

“So we keep going because if we did not raise the subject and talk about it, there would be silence,” Horton said.

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