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New Zealand Police Make Arrests as COVID Vaccine Mandate Protests Enter 3rd Day

“We want our freedom back,” said another protester, identifying himself as Dave. “Jacinda (Ardern) has turned her back on us. Kiwis are not dumb. We are losing our jobs and our lives due to these mandates and restrictions.”
Anti-vaccine mandate protesters gather to demonstrate in front of the parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, February 10, 2022. REUTERS/Praveen Menon
Anti-vaccine mandate protesters gather to demonstrate in front of the parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, February 10, 2022. REUTERS/Praveen Menon

New Zealand police on Thursday arrested more than 50 people and began forcefully removing hundreds of protesters camped outside its parliament building for the last three days to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates and tough coronavirus restrictions.

Inspired by truckers’ demonstrations in Canada, into a 13th day with protesters blocking two border crossings with the United States, several thousand protesters this week blocked streets near the parliament in capital Wellington with trucks, cars and motorcycles.

A country of five million people, New Zealand has reported just over 18,000 confirmed cases and 53 deaths since the pandemic began. About 94% of eligible people are vaccinated, with shots mandatory for some staff in frontline jobs.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday told the protesters to “move on”, saying the protests are not a reflection of what the majority in the country feels. As of 14.45 local time (0145 GMT), about a thousand protesters remained at the site, defying warnings and efforts by the police to clear them.

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