New Zealand: Down With Government “War on Terror” Repression!
Free Arrested Maori Activists and Leftists!
Numerous protests were held across New Zealand following the racist and deeply repressive 15 October “anti-terror” raids on Maori, peace and environmental activists. On 19 October up to 1,000 people in the township of Whakatane marched on the local police station in outrage at police actions, which included house raids and reportedly the boarding of a school bus by a gun-toting cop. Protesters carried placards saying “He taonga te mokopuna [Our children are treasures],” “We are not terrorists, we’ve been terrorised” and “Don’t point the gun at me! I’m under 5” (New Zealand Weekend Herald, 20 October).
The following statement, produced on 18 October by the Partisan Defence Committee (PDC) in Australia, was distributed in Auckland at a protest outside the District Court on Friday 19 October, at a protest rally in the city the following day as well as at Auckland University. The city rally, which included leftists, Maori activists and civil rights campaigners, marched from Aotea Square to the Auckland Central Police Station. While there some protesters attempted to pull down the New Zealand flag with police emblem and replace it with the Maori sovereignty flag. This attempt resulted in a brief scuffle between police and activists with the activists escaping.
The PDC protest statement was well received, particularly by Maori activists. It was announced at Saturday’s rally that international protests against the outrageous raids were being planned for the following week.
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We protest the arrest and detention of 17 Maori, anarchist and environmental activists in raids carried out across New Zealand in the early hours of 15 October by hundreds of heavily armed police of the Clark Labour-led government. One of those arrested was veteran Maori sovereignty campaigner, Tame Iti. Mr Iti, Jamie Lockett and others whose names have not been released have been denied bail. While one Wellington judge described the information backing charges against four of these who appeared in her court as “scant,” police have threatened further arrests amidst a hysterical media campaign.
Using the criminal attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 and the subsequent Bali and London bombings as a pretext, capitalist rulers from London to Washington to Canberra and now Wellington have seized the opportunity to jack up state repression, accompanied by racist hysteria in the service of suppressing Maori, trade unionists and leftists and youth opposed to bloody colonial occupations from Iraq to the Pacific.
Augmented police powers are being wielded to accustom people to the restriction of democratic rights and create a climate of fear aimed at quashing in advance any social struggle against the bloated capitalist profit system that consigns the working class and oppressed to increased exploitation and misery.
The 2002 Terrorism Suppression Act was used to justify the warrants for the arrests. While targeting Maori activists today, these measures ultimately threaten all opponents of New Zealand imperialism, the entire workers movement and the left. They are really about political suppression. We call on the workers movement in New Zealand and internationally to rally against this outrageous witchhunt. Free all the arrested activists! Drop the charges!
The PDC is a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defence organisation which champions cases and causes in the interests of the whole of the working people. This purpose is in accordance with the political views of the Spartacist League.