At the beginning of the week New Zealand woke up to the news that there was a serious terrorist threat to the Prime Minister and that the police were carrying out militaristic armed raids (something unheard of in New Zealand) across the nation to apprehend the suspected terrorists under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 (TSA).
Seventeen arrests were made across the country of mainly activists (Māori, environmentalists, peace campaigners and anarchists). It became very clear that the people arrested do not appear to be terrorists and despite media hype it is very apparent that they are incapable of posing such a threat! Therefore it will be interesting to see how the TSA is going to be used against these people?
One of the arrested Tame Iti, veteran Tuhoe activist, is well known and on television the Minister of Māori affairs, Parekura Horomia said he considered him a friend, whilst pedaling the government line about waiting to see what the investigation would bring! It is interesting to note that the armed police 'terrorised' children on school buses in the Tuhoe area in the eastern Bay of Plenty. No one is in any doubt that the Tuhoe iwi (tribe) have grievances with regard to the Treaty of Waitangi, and it is quite possible they have training grounds and weapons training to learn how to shoot in particular with respect to pig hunting and the like. One person interviewed on television who went to learn how to shoot so that he could earn good money ($US500 a day) as a private body guard in Iraq to be part of the war on terror (my emphasis)!
Another activist, Jamie Beattie Lockett, whilst one may seriously question his political point of view on Māori and Pākehā relations, was released on bail as no threat to society. The Crown immediately appealed the decision as new evidence (undisclosed to the public) was introduced and the bail was removed and he was remanded in custody.
Another activist was such a threat to the state that he used large kitchen knives to make a feed for the police raiding the house!
The majority of people arrested in the raids have been held on fire arms charges. The question people are asking why use the Terrorism Suppression Act, when there are more than adequate laws on the statute book to cover the offences? Additionally, if the police were to go in heavy into rural New Zealand how many more arrests would there be for illegally owning a gun? Not surprisingly the threat to the Prime Minister is no longer mentioned in the press. Is the NZ equivalent of 'weapons of mass destruction'?
To understand the events of the past week we have to take a close look at the New Zealand state. The Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 (TSA) was rushed through parliament and passed as a result of September 11th putting New Zealand in alignment with the USA, Australia and Great Britain on this matter. Without doubt this is the most draconian legislation attacking civil liberties ever introduced. Most New Zealanders would now question why we need our civil liberties curtailing when the only act of terrorism on New Zealand soil was the state sponsored terrorism of the French government with regard to the blowing up of the 'Rainbow Warrior' in 1986, which lead to the country's nuclear free stance.
The TSA can be used against any New Zealanders who supports liberation movements. For example, if this law was in place in the 1980's anyone supporting the ANC in South Africa in its fight against apartheid would be deemed a terrorist under the legislation as they are potentially financing and recruiting alleged terrorists.
Secondly, New Zealanders involved in major industrial action or political protest could be charged under the legislation by economically 'terrorising the state'. Therefore, if this legislation was in place in 1913 during the Great strike, or the 1951 Waterfront strike or protesting against the 1981 Springbok tour people could have been arrested as 'terrorists'. Interestingly, perhaps some of the present government may have been caught under such legislation if it had been in place in 1981! Both points being subject to 7 to 14 years in jail.
Since the TSA was passed in 2002 it has not been used. It is interesting to note that the police raids took place the day before the TSA was due before parliament for amendment which would bring in further draconian measures, for instance giving the prime minister 'autocratic powers' to determine who is and for how long an individual or group may be deemed a terrorist (my emphasis).
The police had been planning the operation for a year and has the active involvement of the SIS (NZ secret service). The leader of the opposition, National's John Key let the cat out of the bag on National Radio when he said he had been informed by the SIS that the raids were to take place before he left for London.
Obviously, to make the amendment to the TSA more palatable to the NZ public the raids were to be used to justify the need for beefing up the TSA. To date this action has backfired on them and the police are on the back foot and there have been demonstrations taking place against what has happened.
This is a wake up call for the labour and trade union movement. It is quite clear that the ruling class is building the state apparatus up behind the democratic facade of the civil service, police and their other representatives. They are preparing the way to use totalitarian methods to defend their crises-ridden system in the future.
The battle will not be against terrorists but against the organised working class in their struggle for socialism and an end to class rule. Workers must not be under any illusion that the state is a neutral arbiter. It is there for one reason and one reason alone as an instrument of maintaining class rule over the rest of us. In the final analysis as Lenin put it the state is 'armed bodies of men'. Fundamentally, the state prefers to use liberal democracy as its preferred cheapest method of rule, unless the capitalist are threatened.
Clearly, the democratic reforms we have enjoyed in the past are under threat and the events of the past week illustrate this.