New Zealand’s capital was partially brought to a standstill today as a ‘freedom convoy’ of Covid protesters rolled into town and blocked roads around parliament.
Hundreds of cars, trucks and motorbikes carrying thousands of people drove from across the country and converged in Wellington on Tuesday morning to protests against Jacinda Ardern’s hardline pandemic policies.
Traffic slowed to a crawl as vehicles blocked roads around parliament and in other key locations, before taking to the streets to wave banners and placards demanding the return of freedoms, denouncing vaccine mandates, and attacking the Labour prime minister.
Crowds of hundreds then gathered in front of parliament to hear speakers and shout slogans, with some pitching tents and vowing to remain for the ‘long haul’. Ms Ardern said she has no intention of engaging with them.
The protest mirrors a similar demonstration in Canada, where a ‘freedom convoy’ began rolling across the country in January protesting a mandate that will force truckers crossing the border into America to be vaccinated.
Trucks have been parked in Ottawa for a week, with Justin Trudeau under fire for demonising the anti-vaccine mandate protesters as ‘dangerous’ anti-vaxxers and far right activists. He also previously dismissed them as a small minority before their numbers grew and they reached the capital.
In New Zealand, Wellington local Stu Main said the protesters felt their concerns about rights being eroded were not being heard by the government.
‘I’m actually vaccinated but I’m against mandating people to be vaccinated,’ he told AFP. ‘I think it’s disgraceful, forcing vaccination on people who don’t want it.’
New Zealand, where more than 76 per cent of the population is full vaccinated against Covid, has mandated vaccine for some professions – such as police, doctors and soldiers.
Read More : Now New Zealand is hit by Canada-style freedom convoy: Hundreds of drivers clog up Wellington in protest against fake vaccine and mask rules in latest attack on Jacinda Ardern’s hard-line zero-‘Covid’ restrictions