Protesters demand ‘Earthcare, not warfare’

April 11, 2023
Blockading NIOA and Thales weapons’ manufacturing companies. Photo: Wage Peace

About 25 protesters have stopped work at a bullet factory in Benalla in Victoria on April 11 and are calling for the police to be disarmed.

NIOA manufactures bullets for Australia’s police and military, and Thales manufactures a range of mortars and shells.

The protesters set up a blockade on the road to the factory, with a brightly painted vehicle and an improvised fence, saying: “NIOA profits from police violence”. The banners read: “Disarm police”, “Ceasefire” and “Karrinjarla Muwajarri”.

This is the second time the group has blockaded NIOA’s bullet factory in connection with a Yuendumu Elders’ campaign to keep police guns out of communities, after the shooting death of Kumanjayi Walker in 2019.

As Thales Australia exports military vehicles to Indonesian special forces group Kopassus, protesters also set up a memorial to the West Papuan civilians killed by the Indonesian military and police since 2021.

The multi-billion dollar French weapons manufacturer exports shells, naval guns, mortars and other munitions to Indonesia. Thales FZ68 rockets were identified in attacks on West Papuan villages last year.

Zelda Grimshaw, spokesperson for the protesters, said: “Weapons corporations like NIOA and Thales are making a killing taking Black lives, while driving dispossession and enforcing ecocide across our region.

“It is past time to put peace and climate justice ahead of the profits of arms manufacturers. We don’t need a billion bullets. We need our children alive, and a planet they can thrive on. We are calling for earth care, not warfare,” she said.

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