Thursday 13 December 2007

Terror raids ‘target basic right to express dissent’

By Grant Brookes

The widespread public concern over the recent police terror raids was seen in Lower Hutt on 28 November.
A public meeting organised by email at just a week’s notice drew more than 80 people to hear Maori lawyer Moana Jackson. It was the biggest left wing political meeting in the Hutt Valley in a long while.
Jackson spoke about the raids, what was behind them and – in response to questions from the floor – what people can do to build opposition.
Just three weeks earlier, he had resigned as a Patron of the Police College in protest at the police abuses of human rights.
Jackson said he couldn’t tell all he knew because many details are suppressed, but he gave some examples of abuses which had already been made public.
“The raid was called Operation 8 because there were seven other operations going on at the same time”, he said. Over 400 groups – mainly Maori – were under surveillance.


On October 15, they raided over 60 properties around the country, and made 17 arrests. The main focus, however, was the Ruatoki.
“There, police stopped innocent people at gunpoint, made them get out of their cars and hold a number, and took their photograph. Now the police are not allowed to do that”, he said.
They surrounded one house and told the occupants to come out with their hands up. A woman and her children came out.
“The mother was spread-eagled, face down on the ground”, said Jackson. “When the children started to cry, they were marched away and locked in a wood shed, for hours. The children were all under eight.
“They were not allowed food. They were not allowed to go to the toilet. The younger ones wet themselves. The girls were searched by male police officers.
“The police terrorised the members of that community.”
Jackson explained how the operation reopened painful historical wounds for Maori.
“In 1863, there was a law passed called the Suppression of Rebellion Act. Under that law, a number of individuals and iwi were labelled rebels.
“It became the basis of the raids on Parihaka and on [Tuhoe leader] Rua Kenana. It led to the Settlement Act, and the wars in Taranaki and the Waikato.”
Later wars on the East Coast led to massive confiscation of Tuhoe land. “When the police descended on the Ruatoki”, said Jackson, “they set up their check points, deliberately – or in exceptional ignorance – on the confiscation line.”
The basis for the October raids was the Terrorism Suppression Act, hastily passed by Labour in 2002 to stay on side with the US “war on terror”.
“As a result of that law, the police received a huge increase in their budget, as did the SIS.”


Senior officers were posted on assignments to Washington and London, where they absorbed lessons from other law enforcement agencies.
“The militarization of policing”, concluded Jackson, “is based more on demands from overseas than domestic realities”.
Asked why Helen Clark endorsed the raids, he said he can’t read the prime minister’s mind, but commented that she does want to remain on side with America in the hope of a free trade deal.
Jackson said legal action will be taken against the Crown as a result of the raids. People can support the legal campaign by explaining to others what really happened, in ways they feel comfortable.
He believes that when most people hear the real story, and how it could happen to any activist group which dares to question the Crown, they will oppose the police actions, too.
“The police had a complete disregard for the law which is supposed to govern their operations”, said Jackson. “When you give a coercive arm of the state such far reaching power, it creates corruption.
“The prime minister also talked about terrorism in the Ureweras, and about napalm bombs. She not only breached sub judice, she also breached the convention that there should not be even a hint of political interference in the legal process.
“If the state is prepared to break its own rules in that way, what other rules will it break in the name of fighting terrorism?
“The militarization of policing starts a country on a slide towards undermining one set of rights, then another. What can be done to one, can be done to others.
“It’s never been just a Tuhoe issue, or a Maori issue – though that’s what concerns me.
“If you target activists, you target one of the basic rights in a democracy – the right to express dissenting views.”

1 comment:

Ana said...

"The move towards paramilitary policing has coincided with the end of the cold-war and the waning of the nationally defined capitalist
class, in a process broadly defined as globalisation.

National capitalists are being replaced by an international class with global interests.
The idea of national considerations is increasingly becoming an
anachronism, as capital has by and large lost its national character
and seeks worldwide for advantages for itself in the conditions of
accumulation (Teeple 1995: 69).

Wars against inner enemies are now taking top priority. Wars of the
future will be fought within not between states (Martin & Schumann
1997: 25; Christie 1993: 13–14).
Conflict within rather than between states is taking centre stage for
two reasons. Firstly, racial, ethnic and religious tensions are being fueled as the pressures of declining wages and conditions,
unemployment, decreased social welfare, job insecurity, rapid change, and environmental degradation provide ideal conditions for the
development of scapegoats.

This process involves an irrational singling out of certain
identifiable groups, almost inevitably low on the social hierarchy, as
the cause of all social ills. This process is frequently aided and
abetted by politicians who share the scapegoat mentality and seek to
exploit divisions for political profit. Secondly, conflict will arise between the State and those participating in organised resistance against the decline in living standards and increasing inequality."