While the nature and scope of recent police investigations and arrests in Aotearoa/New Zealand is slowly becoming clearer, Bernard Lagan in Sydney has few doubts regarding either: —
- Arms cache discovered in secret Maori ‘terror camps’
— screams a headline in Uncle Rupert’s The Times (October 16, 2007).
“Secret camps allegedly used for military training by Maori radicals were yesterday found deep within New Zealand’s most sacred mountain range” reads the first line in Lagan’s breathless article. Yes, such is the depth of the depravity among the Maori radicals/terrorists, they were simply unwilling to settle for a mountain range more ordinary, but instead opted for the country’s most sacred.
Among other priceless pieces of information contained in Lagan’s report is the following: “Ms Clark said later that she was aware of police plans but refused to say if she knew of a threat to herself or other politicians. She said that she was “surprised at the scale and numbers of people involved”.” Involved in what, exactly? On first reading, I understood her ‘surprise’ to be not at “the scale and numbers of people involved” in the “police plans” — that is, the police operation — but “the scale and numbers of people involved” in the secret Maori terror camps found deep within New Zealand’s most sacred mountain range…
In the interests of ‘balance’, here’s another, slightly less hysterical article; an interview with an anarchist from New Zealand:
NZ police target “terrorists” and avocados in raids
While the Australian papers were largely concerned with boring tax cuts this morning, their counterparts across the ditch were concerned with far more explosive matters. Around 300 NZ police were involved in simultaneous raids across the country targeting Maori, environmental and peace activists, who the police allege had been taking part in “terrorist training camps.”
A New Zealand anarchist and friend of many of the accused spoke to Crikey this morning:
C: Do the allegations have any basis in fact?
A: At this stage, the only facts that are clear are those of state repression, of masked and black-clad fully armed police officers searching a school bus full of children at gunpoint, of a community that has borne a huge amount of hardship at the hands of the state being further victimised. The police have made a lot of allegations, both directly and through leaks to the media, but have yet to back any of it with even the slightest semblance of fact.
C: I’ve seen reports, in The Age for example, that they’ve actually seized weapons, however other reports say that they were just looking for this material. Are you aware as to whether they have actually found anything?
A: As far as I understand it, those who have been charged have been charged with possession of arms and ammunition at some point in the past – ie, they had none of it on them when they were arrested. In other words, the police are alleging that these people, at some point that they haven’t stated, used weapons illegally in a manner which they also haven’t stated. What is clear is that many of the 300+ police who carried out raids, arrests and searches yesterday were armed to the teeth, which should be no surprise from the biggest and most powerful gang in Aotearoa.
C: You were visited by the police on Monday morning. What happened?
A: The raids started in Ruatoki at 4am, at the house of well-known Tino Rangatiratanga activist Tame Iti. I was woken up by a text message telling me that an activist community house in Wellington had been raided and two friends of mine had been arrested. I jumped on the computer to check the news, and soon after there was a knock at my door. I opened it to find four police officers, all in plain-clothes but wearing police vests over the top. One of the officers showed me his ID, at which point I asked him if he had a warrant. He did not reply, and instead asked me if a certain person was in my house. I asked again if he had a warrant, and when he said that they didn’t, I told them to leave the property, and closed the door. I watched them through a window, and quickly realised they weren’t leaving, and were in fact walking around the outside of my house and through my backyard. I opened the door again, and informed them that as the legal occupier of the property, I was demanding they leave immediately under the Trespass Act. They refused to leave, and demanded I prove I was the occupier, or else they would stay. My flatmate soon produced our lease form, which I showed them. They wrote down our names, I told them again to leave, and shortly afterwards they did so.
C: Were they visibly armed?
A: Other than batons, the police who came to our house didn’t appear to be armed, unlike many of the police involved in other raids.
C: But what if you had been armed to the teeth?
A: I think that just goes to show how ludicrous these trumped up charges are. At the Wellington activist community centre, while police were supposedly searching the house for weapons, they simultaneously had no issue with residents using huge kitchen knives to cut up apples and make apple pie. Likewise, this morning we have already seen Jamie Lockett, one of the arrestees in Auckland, released on bail [only to then have his bail denied by a higher court]. None of this seems to fit the picture of a dangerous terrorist network! And while the police found no weapons at the Wellington activist community centre, they did confiscate a backpack containing carrots and an avocado!
C: Did the carrots and avocado have any explosive properties?
A: The police returned them later in the day, so one assumes not.
Locally, Socialist Alternative has issued a statement on the arrests. According to Mick Armstrong:
The anarchist crazies involved in the terror plot are in no serious sense part of the movement. Just like their black mates they simply exploit the movement for their own purposes.
Right throughout the lead-up to the arrests they made clear their hostility to and contempt for their superiors. Every day they repair bicycles, grow organic vegetables, and do all they can to disrupt the movement, and are hostile, abusive, threatening and ultra-sectarian towards its leaders.
Aotearoa, fortunately, has not previously been blighted by the sort of activities by blacks which have had such a disastrous impact on the movement in Australia. These people are simply provocateurs that open up movements to police repression. In Australia their ranks have been riddled by people who can think and act for themselves.
What gave them a certain critical mass deep within Aotearoa’s most sacred mountain range was the presence of considerable numbers of anarchists from overseas. One of our members from Australia says he recognises at least 40 Australian anarchists among the 17 arrested, and knows at least 20 of them by name. There is a considerable number of black anarchists from Europe. We know of people from Sweden, Germany and England. These people are like football hooligans who travel the world looking for violence.
On top of that there were also a considerable number of anarchists from other planets.
Because of the behaviour of these alien provocateurs the media and the law and order brigade are having a field day.
The left should offer no comfort to these crazies. We should do whatever we can to isolate them. They are wreckers. If they grow in Aotearoa it will simply make it harder to build future monuments and movements.
See also : We’re no terrorists say capital radicals, Emily Watt, The Dominion Post, October 17, 2007: “The house once hosted arrested Tuhoe activist Tame Iti. An outspoken resident was once thrown out of Italy, accused of attempted murder after a G8 protest…” | Tuhoe angry over terrorist ‘brand’, NZPA, October 17, 2007: “Maori living in the eastern Bay of Plenty settlement of Ruatoki say they feel directly targeted by police raids, but police say their actions were necessary to mitigate a serious risk…” | Police fail to appease Tuhoe leaders over raids, Radio New Zealand, October 17, 2007: “Local Tuhoe met at a hui at Otenuku Marae in Ruatoki on Tuesday to discuss the situation, eventually allowing about six police representatives to attend. A spokesperson for the group, Paki Nikora, told Morning Report they were able to express their concern and hurt about the way armed officers were deployed without warning…” | Why Thursdays’ Anti-Terrorism Bill Is Bad For NZ, Global Peace & Justice Auckland, October 17, 2007, Media Release: “Since 2001 our government has passed three pieces of legislation to “suppress terrorism” with the fourth now due in parliament tomorrow. This latest piece is the Suppression of Terrorism Bill 2007. There will be many more such bills to follow in the future. The government says it is just doing its part supporting international moves to isolate and control terrorism. In reality it’s part of the US leadership’s drive to have American foreign policy objectives adopted by governments around the world. So what are the latest changes and why are they dangerous?”