Thursday, October 25, 2007

Terrorism Act, Secret Police & New Zealand

Operation Eight - the series of arms-related arrests intended to pre-empt an alleged insurrection conspiracy against the New Zealand state - marks a turning point in New Zealand's policing history. Well, in recent times anyway. The indigenous have been warding off such state niceties for centuries.

The importance of the raid could be measured by the scale of the police operations in and around Ruatoki and the Urewera National Park. The overwhelming use of force was meant to send an unequivocal message to all activists and their sympathizers to cease and desist. Although, the Tuhoe people have been on the receiving end of such Pakeha-led invasions throughout their history.

As the case against the alleged conspirators unfolds, those New Zealanders who define themselves as left-wing, or, more acceptably these days, as "progressive," will be forced to rethink their strategy for change. Do they see their society, and its manifold shortcomings, as being redeemable? Or, has New Zealand society passed beyond all hope of democratic redemption?

And if Police Commissioner Howard Broad's case for pre-emptive intervention is as weak as it seems, then the Labor party and all moderate New Zealanders will feel no compunction in condemning the tactics of the police. So too, will the Greens and the Maori Party.

Western industrial society continues to refuse to accept the need for massive social and economic change. Governments and the Corporations that sponsor them will not heed the warnings of the "environmentalists," who call on the world to defend the natural environment so that humanity will have a future free from extreme hardship.

Indeed, it is difficult to conceive of a prospect more likely to titillate the draconian urges of a police state than to attack the hard-line environmental activists who stand in the way of continued rape and pillage of the earth at the expense of future generations.

What was the reason for up to 300 gun-toting, pistol-packing, black-helmeted and body-armoured police constables moving inexorably up the narrow river-valleys of the Ureweras to arrest yet another Tuhoe leader? This fiasco and show of unnecessary force can only have made a deep and painful impression upon the minds of a people already under siege.

The Maori party's co-leader, Dr Pita Sharples, speaking from a restorative justice conference in Brisbane, characterised the Ruatoki raid of October 15 as an event that would "put race relations in New Zealand back one hundred years."

Coming on top of the staunch defense of Tuhoe mounted by the region's Maori MP, Te Ururoa Flavel, Sharples' comments make it clear the Maori people and all moderate New Zealanders will not abandon Tame Iti and the others to the judicial fate envisioned by the police apparatus of the state.

"Free Tame Iti!" T-shirts have already been printed. The accused are innocent victims of a repressive, racist, post-9/11 state, hell-bent on flexing its anti-terrorist muscles in the legislature, the courts and on the streets.

A surprisingly large number of media outlets have simply refused to be persuaded that Iti and his eco-activist allies constitute any kind of serious threat to either the state or the public.

Hundreds march in protest of Tame Iti arrest

Hundreds of protesters have staged a march outside the Rotorua Court House today ahead of Maori activist Tame Iti's court appearance. They carried signs with slogans such as: "Free Tame" and "NZ Police are terrorists" during the march.

Protesters chanted "Tuhoe, Tuhoe" and: "Who are the terrorists? Pirihimana [police]. Who are their bosses? Helen Clark."

Part of the reason the public is not biting the terrorist bait is a reflection of the repeated failure of the police and security forces in places such as Britain, the US and Australia to come up with "the goods" after scaring their respective societies witless for days on end with banner headlines such as "Terror Plot Uncovered" and "Police Swoop on Terror Suspects."

Do people really think Tame Iti is a New Zealand Osama Bin Laden? What a joke. Instead of using scores of Darth Vader stormtroopers, couldn't they have just sent the local community constable to arrest Iti? It's not like he's ever resisted arrest before.

The secret police wants us to swallow that an eclectic group of Maori, political and environmental activists were being turned into a terrorist army. The young people arrested are actually vegans who don't even believe in killing animals, let alone human beings. When you get the police searching homes of environmental activists trying to save snails on the West Coast, you know that things have got really silly.

This week, New Zealand proudly signed up to become part of the US database of suspected terrorists. [A list that has grown over a three quarters of a million people] I would have thought that after the Ahmed Zaoui debacle, [a Muslim man kept in prison for years who turned out innocent] the secret police would hesitate to take the word of overseas agencies. Let's not even mention the bogus intelligence from these same guys to justify the invasion of Iraq for their oil and hegemonic designs for the region.

Knowing the history of official state abuse of the Maori, understanding Maori sovereignty claims and the fact that New Zealand's left has never sought a path of armed struggle or revolution ultimately, result in the eerie conclusion that what the police allege to have been occurring in the Ureweras is yet another blunder by our "Keystone Kops." Or is it a well thought out prescription of proscription of dissent?

That being the case, it is entirely justifiable both ethically and politically to denounce and defend against the repressive sortie, this witch hunt implemented by the police and subsequently, passed onto the justice system to persecute and oppress law abiding citizens.

"The War No One Showed Up For"
We're only human in the front lines,
And only chosen soldiers know their sides.
No, brothers, please forgive me in true,
Because every last round is for you.

Roundabout I pray Holy Angel holy flame,
Just do what you say, way we bleed all the same.
Your eyes meet mine, across this bloodstained treat,
Brother, Sister, I love you, but I'm not gone a mist.
The New Zealand Suppression of Terrorism Act - even its name is provocatively ominous - is a political weapon against dissent. The act is being abused to harass and stifle legitimate opposition. New Zealand should not be worrying about the political agitation of Tame Iti and the other activists. There should instead be great trepidation concerning the creeping powers of the secret police.


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