Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tautoko, e Hone

...I support you, Hone Harawira.

Mr. Harawira is a Māori Party Member of Parliament in the New Zealand legislature, who has had quite a bit to say about the anti-"terrorist" police raids in New Zealand/Aotearoa, and about the current strengthening of the "Terrorist Suppression Act," which just passed third reading, and is probably as unintelligible as the original. The Prime Minister and her supporters claim that one has nothing to do with the other. Ordinary
Māori, many of whom were victimized by the police raids, descended upon Parliament today in a hikoi (mass march), and beg to differ. And here, for the record, is what Harawira had to say in the House:

Mr Speaker, over the past couple of days, comments I made about this
Terrorism Suppression Bill seem to have generated some heated debate from
politicians, both inside and outside of this House.

So I thought I'd recap on my comments, so the House was absolutely crystal
clear about what I actually said, and here it is .

"I will not sit quietly by, while State forces terrorise my people. If this
requires of me that I speak out against the rule of law that would impose
terror on Mâori communities in this country, then I will speak out. I will
speak out against it in this chamber, on television, in newspapers, and
anywhere else I possibly can."

And I stand by those comments today, in spite of all the personal abuse I
have had from someone who called for and signed up to a Code of Conduct
which states that: "we will debate the issues raised and refrain from
personal attacks" and then twice in as many weeks, issued press releases
abusing me as a person and insulting my position as an MP.

I stand by those comments, because they reflect the feelings within many
Maori communities, all round the country.

I stand by those comments because they reflect the feelings of New
Zealanders who are proud to stand up for their rights, and who respect the
right of all New Zealanders to do so as well.

I stand by those comments because neither I, nor the Maori Party, will
allow our views to be silenced by those who think the only good Maori is a
dead one.

And I stand by those comments, because, unless somebody has changed the rules in the last couple of days, and I know that some of the petty little players in this House have been desperately climbing onto the "let's do
whatever we can to shut this Harawira up and get some media for ourselves"
bandwagon, I have the right as an elected member of this House of
Representatives, as do the rest of my colleagues in the Maori Party, to
speak freely on any issue that affects this country and it's citizens.

So let's look at what this whole Terrorism thing means. What exactly is
terrorism and who are we talking about when we call people terrorists?

People in this House say that the Taleban are terrorists. And my question
is, is that the Taleban that was funded by the Americans to throw the
Russians out of Afghanistan, or, as if there's 2 different groups, is that
the Taleban who turned around and said "and now you Yankee warmongers can get out of here as well!"

And Saddam Hussein. Is that the Saddam Hussein who was bankrolled by the Americans in the war against Iran, or is that the Saddam Hussein who told the Americans to get out of his country?

Or is it the terrorism of the United States 7th Cavalry, operating under a
clear mandate from their masters in Washington in the 1870s, to crush
everything that stood in the way of the land-hungry, gold-crazy settlers,
and to round up, and hunt down and kill where necessary, any natives who
stood in their way?

And when we talk about the fight against terrorism, I recall attending a
conference in Canada - the United Nations Expert Seminar on Treaties,
Agreements and other constructive arrangements between States and
Indigenous Peoples - held in Hobbema, Canada last year, where I was given
this picture of Geronimo and his warriors carrying guns, and the caption
below which read:


And I ask, is that the kind of fight against terrorism that we're talking
about here?

Or is it the terrorism of the apartheid regime of South Africa, and I like
many others in this House, will never forget the image of a young man
running through the streets of Sharpeville carrying a young girl, killed
by government-sponsore
d agents of terror; an image which helped shape an
understanding in the minds of thousands of New Zealanders, that our

passion for rugby should never again be sullied by links to
state-sponsored terror and state-sponsored murder.

Or is it the terrorism of those who lied to the whole world about Weapons
of Mass Destruction which were never found, and the link between Al Qaeda
and Saddam Hussein which was never proved, so they could invade Iraq to
get control of the oilfields?

Mr Speaker, when a member of this House characterises terrorism as the
importation of deadly diseases, the murder of innocent civilians, and the
wholesale theft of a people's lands and territories, is he referring to
the terrorism of the colonial invasion of Aotearoa, because you'd have to
be deaf, dumb and blind not to see those very terrorist activities in our
own history?

Mr Speaker, when we think of this Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill,
all I ask is that we put aside the blinkers of the red, white and blue and
be honest about the reality of terrorism, in all its forms.

The Maori Party is no apologist for the regimes of either the Taleban or
Saddam Hussein Mr Speaker, but neither are we so blind as to vote for a
Bill clearly designed to punish those who would challenge injustice in

Mr Speaker, Nicky Hagar, author of The Hollow Men, says that since the
passing of the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, people taking part in
ordinary protests have found they are being subjected to much heavier

He reckons that police are now routinely removing computers, charging
people well out of proportion to the original activity, and using far more
draconian measures against people exercising their legitimate right to

He even pointed out how protestors had been charged with wilful damage for writing in chalk on a footpath, outside Marian Hobbs' office for heaven's sake !!!

This country is faced by the terror of silence; those who would silence
the voice of radical protest, of vocal dissent and of genuine opposition;
those who would tell us "wait, just wait, the police know what they're

And then there's those of us who would sit silently by, muttering about
how those so-and-so's deserved it, but secretly terrified that our
children might be the next ones to get picked up, and I am reminded of
those famous words from Pastor Martin Niemoller who said of the Nazi
purges of the Second World War:

First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out, because I was
not a Communist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not
speak out, because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the
Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew. And then they came
for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak out for me.

So no, we will not be terrorised into silence on this, or any other issue
that so hugely impacts upon our people.

And for all those who think that the Maori Party stands alone, listen to
these testimonies:

Archdeacon Hone Kaa and the Anglican Church itself, have criticised the
authorities for their actions, and said that "there is no excuse for
women, children and the elderly being subjected to terror".

Reverend John Thrupp of the Presbyterian Church spoke of the overwhelming hurt and sense of anger amongst the people of Ruatoki, the innocent people being held at gun point, the children being frightened out of their wits by police with guns, and the kids being stranded by police arresting their parents.

Te Teira Davies, a highly respected Ringatu Minister who was arrested,
taken from the college where he works, and questioned, for daring to know
Tame Iti.

Maaaate, you can call the Maori Party whatever you like, but when the
church starts criticising police action, you knoooooow that something's

So when members of this House criticise the Maori Party and the Green
Party for standing against state terrorism, I gotta ask all of you .

Do you really think it's acceptable behaviour for the state to use armed
and masked gunmen to blockade communities, smash into people's homes, hold innocent people at gun point, frighten children with guns, arrest and hold people without bail, and suppress all information on those cases?

Mr Speaker, any freedom-loving New Zealander, Maori, Pakeha, Pasifika,
Asian, whatever, would be horrified by the call for us to simply sit back
and say nothing about the overkill of the recent police terror-raids, and
the denial of basic human rights to our fellow citizens.

We are not dumb; we are not blind; we are not deaf; and we will not be

Mr Speaker, they say that in dictatorships, denying legal rights to
terrorism suspects is normal, but in countries like Aotearoa with a
history of political tolerance and non-violent protest, - it is a
development we must rage against with all our might.

On the 29 March 2007 I said in this House that the Maori Party will
oppose the use of terror to impose one-eyed nationalistic misconceptions
of religion and governance on any people, whether committed in the name
of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda or in the name of George Bush and the
United States of America.

Today I repeat that statement. The Mâori Party will oppose terrorism in
all its forms, be it international terrorism or state terrorism, and we
will stand alongside our people whenever our lands, our communities, and our people are threatened.

Again, tautoko. And for his pains, as noted in his speech, he has been vilified by political opportunists of all stripes. He's an anarchist! A disgrace to the House! But as one commentator pointed out:

This guy is opposed to detention without bail, suppressed evidence, potentially unjustified search and seizure by the state and what he sees as an erosion of our human rights?

Yeah, he sounds like a dangerous radical all right.

New Zealand and Stephen Harper's Canada have much in common. Both countries refused to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Terrorism has become the rationale for passing draconian legislation and beefing up domestic "security" at the expense of the right to dissent. In both countries, the police have seen such measures as a good excuse to harass innocent people: in previous posts on this topic, I have indicated just who were the victims of the police raids in Aotearoa--Māori activists, environmentalists and peace groups. I might have failed to mention that even here, racist distinctions were made--pakeha (European) were shoved around and subjected to property damage, but the police actually locked down an entire Māori community (Ruatoki) and terrorized the population.

Now, I want to make one thing crystal clear: I do not now, and have never believed that 9/11 was "an inside job," or any of the other squirrelly notions about that crime against humanity. But that terrorist act was cynically seized upon by numerous politicians and governments, who took full advantage of the fear it generated, coming up with legislation aimed, not at terrorism, but at dissent. We have watched police behaviour in Canada post 9/11, most recently at Montebello, and Harper's absurd emphasis (if you believe in statistics) on crime and terrorism in Canada. What recently happened in New Zealand was the attempted criminalization of dissent. Similar attempts have been seen right here at home.

Meanwhile, we are actually having debates about whether torture is OK--Tasers, or waterboarding, or even needles under the fingernails (suitably sterilized because, after all, we are not savages). It's not the specific instances of, say, Tasering that are the main point, of course, but the discourse that such incidents generate-- the neutrality of tone, or even open support, as such events are relayed to us. On the conservative side of the blogosphere, a debate has erupted over whether alliances should be made with neo-nazis, white nationalists and others of that ilk. The fact that we democratic, civilized folks are in the position of actually having to discuss the legitimacy of torture and neo-nazi alliances show how far we have sunk since that day on September 11, 2001.

Yes, those jihadis have a lot to answer for, not the least of which is our steady evolution towards their own sado-political, absolutist mindset. And the only thing that will save us is people, people like Hone Harawira standing up to be counted, people saying, No! Kāti anō!

Kia kaha, e hoa, e hoa mā.

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