Thursday, October 25, 2007

Demonising dissent - New Zealand-style

From Global Peace and Justice Auckland's newsletter:
"It’s a grim time for democracy and civil rights in New Zealand with 17 'terrorism suspects' arrested in para-military raids across the country this month. For many people the situation is confusing at best but for those who know the people arrested it is astonishing. How could the police believe a group of Maori sovereignty activists, peace campaigners and environmentalists could pose a credible terrorist threat to New Zealand?
The police have raised the spectre of terrorism despite, after 15 months of intensive surveillance, no decision yet being made as to whether terrorism charges will be laid. In the meantime the damage is being done. The public are being softened up to accept that we have terrorism in New Zealand. Under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 a terrorist is defined as someone who, for political reasons, causes '…serious disruption to an infrastructure facility, if likely to endanger human life…' This broad definition would include many of the protests against the 1981 Springbok tour. It threatens to demonise legitimate political dissent. Even people committed to non-violence with no intention to harm anyone or damage property can qualify as terrorists.
"Meanwhile the latest Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill is being pushed through Parliament. Under this law New Zealand would automatically adopt the UN (effectively the US) list of terrorists and terrorist organisations. A law like this in the 1980s would have made it illegal to provide support for the African National Congress in the fight against apartheid or for campaigns to have Nelson Mandela released from jail. Today groups such as Hamas, despite being democratically elected to government in occupied Palestine, would be a designated terrorist group (as it is in Australia).
"A Kiwi added to the list by another country (as a result of police action last week for example) would have great difficulty being removed from the list. Sweden and the Canada have faced huge difficulties with their citizens being designated in this way through the UN process. The new legislation also sidelines our courts in favour of the Prime Minister designating and then reviewing terrorist classifications. Why should the PM be judge and jury? Under this proposal someone like Ahmed Zaoui wouldn’t have had a chance. Prime Ministers are susceptible to international pressure. It is only a phone call away. At least with the courts there is the semblance of independent scrutiny.
"The government says the police, SIS and lawmakers are all working hand in hand to keep New Zealand safe. The truth is that our lawmakers are blindly putting in place savage attacks on civil rights while the police and SIS are eager to test their new powers and are excited at the prospect of joining the war on terror.
"As it is New Zealand’s anti-terror legislation is set up to demonise dissent and legitimate political protest while removing civil rights safeguards. Dissent provides the oxygen on which a democracy depends. We throttle it at our peril."

  • No terror charges
  • Immediate bail for all arrestees (innocent until proven guilty
  • Withdraw the Terrorism Suppression Act and its amendments

    Check out the website

Moana Jackson - extract from his "primer on terrorism allegations":
"Maori see symmetries between the Terrorism Suppression Act and the 1863 Suppression of Rebellion Act. The targeting of mainly Maori as 'terrorists' in fact mirrors the earlier legislative labelling of those Iwi [that] resisted the land confiscations as 'rebels'. Tuhoe see particular parallels with the fatal police raid on Maungapohatu in 1916. The unthinking or deliberately provocative setting up of the latest police roadblock on the confiscation line simply add to the grievance and the sense of colonising deja vu."

Primer on terrorism allegations

Saturday 27 October is an international day of action to defend civil liberties and oppose the use of terror laws. Stand up for all our rights. What is happening where.
Auckland: Demonstration Saturday Oct 27th at 12 noon meeting in Aotea Square.
Auckland marches against 'terror suppression' raid - Joe Barratt at Scoop

Previous posting - Hundreds protest over NZ state repression

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