New Zealand police on Thursday arrested 120 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.

Iran PressAsia: Police on Thursday began arresting dozens of protesters who were camped out on the grounds of New Zealand's Parliament on the third day of a convoy protest against coronavirus mandates.

The arrests came after Parliament Speaker Trevor Mallard took the rare step of closing the grounds.

Police called in more than 100 extra officers from other parts of the country. Still, police seemed prepared to wait it out as officers formed a line and ordered people to leave but only very slowly advanced on them.

By noon, police had arrested dozens of people and had charged many of them with trespassing or obstruction. Police wore protective vests but didn't don riot gear or carry guns.

Police said they had told everybody on the grounds they were trespassing.

"Obviously every New Zealander has a right to protest, but there are also rules around what is able to happen on Parliament's forecourt and of course we would expect that people have behaviours that don't disrupt the ability of others to go on with their lives as well," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

"I think the majority of New Zealanders share a very similar sentiment — we want to keep one another safe. We want to be able to live our lives. We want to have the ability to do as much that we we're able to do before COVID as possible. That is the path we're on, but we all need to stick together."

Ardern said she was not concerned tensions were rising outside Parliament but said police were endeavouring to put a stop to the ongoing disruption the protesters were causing in Wellington district.

"I've been in Parliament for over a decade. I've seen a number of protests in my time, different sizes. This is certainly not the largest I've seen and I've certainly seen a lot of emotion in those protests.

"But I'm still reminded that relative to the people that are at Parliament now, the very day that they’re there, tens of thousands of people went out and got vaccinated. It is not reflective of where the rest of New Zealand is at right now."


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