Protestors spilled their own blood on the steps of the Government Security Communications Bureau building in Wellington on March 3 as part of a protest action that called attention to the thousands killed by US military drone strikes in the Middle East.
A core group of 12 people, mostly Catholics, fasted and prayed from February 23 to March 3 for the civilian victims of the drone strikes.
Forrest Chambers, who is involved in The Catholic Worker movement and who is spokesperson for the group, counted the week as a success in terms of sending the message out.
“We were working on several levels at once. It was both an awareness campaign, if you like, but with spiritual actions: prayer and fasting,” he said.
He said the group is comprised of friends, mostly from the movement, with people from other denominations. He said some from other faiths who were outraged by drone assassinations also joined the vigil.
“On Friday (March 3), there were 40 people blocking the entrance to the building. During the week, there were 60 to 80 people who joined us,” he said.
Mr Chambers said most of the group came on a bus from Otaki. The bus served as their base and had a Marian shrine.
“We often prayed the Magnificat, a prayer of hope for the poor, and a warning to the rich and powerful,” he said.
Mr Chambers said the group was also inspired by the message of Pope Francis on the World Day of Peace on January 1, 2017.
“His message was very clear that we must preserve peace more urgently,” he said.
Mr Chambers said people would always respond to calls for help during natural calamities like cyclones, earthquakes or typhoons.
“Here are people being killed in a drone programme that our Government is actually helping by giving signals intelligence to the 5-Eyes global surveillance network,” he said. “That’s why we feel strongly about it.”
He said a letter was written to GCSB director Andrew Hampton asking that Mr Hampton meet with them to answer their questions.
“[Mr Hampton] said, as they always do, that they are operating within all New Zealand laws,” said Mr Chambers.
But Mr Chambers said GCSB’s credibility is low after the agency denied spying on New Zealand citizens and it eventually turned out that the agency was spying on this nation’s citizens.
“Our action — giving our blood to the GCSB — is as act of propitiation to the powerful who take life. If the GCSB want to take Muslim blood, we say: ‘take our blood instead’,” said Mr Chambers.
Their group is demanding a full review of New Zealand’s contribution to the 5-Eyes network, and the support that Government may be giving to the drone assassination programme.
“We also ask that the GCSB make public all their files from 1987 to 2007. We appreciate the need for operational secrecy, so they can keep the last ten years up to the present under wraps. But scrutiny of their historic files cannot compromise their current operations,” Mr Chambers said.
At the recommendation of New Zealand’s Catholic bishops, last year Mr Chambers attended the World Meeting of Popular Movements in Rome.