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What happens when activists are branded ‘terrorists’ 

In the news here today:

Police have asked the Solicitor General for permission to treat Tame Iti, and the 16 others arrested two weeks ago, as terrorists.
   It is the first time they have tried to wield the terrorism suppression act.

   There are plenty of comments in the MSM and blogosphere about how current laws are suitable for dealing with the 17 without branding them terrorists.
   Part of what I said at the Alliance Party national conference last week was that these arrests were engineered to sway attention from the real issues facing this country. And it has dire consequences.
   Once they are tarred with this brush, if the Solicitor-General goes with the police’s desire to use the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, then it can encourage greater folly.
   I sense the Act is a tool for the New Zealand Government to engage in the sort of surveillance and raids that the Patriot Act has allowed the US Government to do. Americans can argue about the suitability of the Patriot Act. But New Zealanders are, by my reckoning, in agreement that we don’t need an equivalent here, certainly not one that applies to political and environmental activists.
   I will be interested to hear the Crown’s evidence on the alleged terror camps in the Ureweras. Right now, the MSM has focused on those suspects who do not have guns and are puzzled why they have been arrested as part of the Tuhoe raids. (Rongomai Bailey, one of the suspects who has been released from jail after a judge found that the case was insufficiently made against him, is an excellent example.) This makes for more compelling news. To be fair, there are some who have stored firearms. Whether they were going to use them against civilians—what terrorists might do—is so far a moot point. If they were, one would also think that conspiracy charges under the Crimes Act 1961 would be suitable against the 17, in any case.
   Sadly, groups that may have been involved in peaceful protests against government policies may step up the violence if they feel it won’t make a heck of a lot of difference. ‘The government is going to call us terrorists, anyway, so why don’t we just go ahead and ape the terrorists overseas?’
   The fringe elements might just think this way and as we know, it’s the fringe looneys who cause most of the trouble in the hot spots overseas.
   The looneys, from Osama bin Laden to Timothy McVeigh, cannot be regarded as representative of their culture, creed or nation. Ten to one we have our equivalents that might not have ever been active but for recent events.
   These looneys are not people who are responsible for their own actions and are simply looking for the right excuse. The raids have provided that.
   It is a shame, because despite sex scandals and these arrests, we actually have a police force that, on the whole, serves this country’s communities well, with dignity and honour. My experience is that we have bloody good cops. And this makes life harder for those in the blue uniform, because they are being ridiculed and disrespected more.
   And if giving the government grief over its smooth running and potentially using violence against others qualifies as being a terrorist, then surely the Hon Trevor Mallard MP, the politician involved in a fight last week, is one?
   I’m pretty sure he has been to the Ureweras, too.
   Seriously, even opposition politicians should be concerned right now as to the longer-term repercussions.
   As usual (as far as I can find in Google News), the Hon John Key MP is quiet. It is another opportunity missed by National.

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Hi Jack, thought I leave a short note (off-topic). How have you been?

Happy Halloween.

Cheers, K  
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Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.

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