Things that go bump in the night
PM: activists 'trained to use napalm'
The activists rounded up in police anti-terror raids had been training to use napalm, Prime Minister Helen Clark confirmed yesterday. Her comment was the first official admission of previously unconfirmed reports about napalm being used at activists' training camps in the Ureweras. Clark's comment yesterday – that those arrested "at the very least" had been training with firearms and napalm – was also unusual, in that she was discussing cases currently before the courts. Police yesterday announced they had sought permission from Solicitor-General David Collins to lay terrorism-related charges against activists arrested in dawn raids two weeks ago. Clark refused to be drawn on whether those arrested were involved in terrorism. She dismissed allegations by the Maori Party that the Government was conspiring with police to target Maori sovereignty activists, saying such a move would be illegal. But she said she had been briefed by police and it was plain those arrested had been training with napalm – something police have not officially confirmed. Following the police announcement of putting the case forwards for Terrorism charges, the Maori Party reined in its strong criticism made at its annual conference over the weekend, saying it would reserve comment until all the evidence was revealed.
In the information vacuum caused by these arrests, many in the activist community automatically assumed (as I did) that this was a gross abuse of power by the Police and the ‘coincidence’ that the new Terror powers were being heard in Parliament was simply too much to believe. I know some of the Urewera 17, (hell one of them works at my station as a cameraman) I respect many of them and share their passion for social justice through activism, and I believe most will be found to have simply been caught up in something they neither supported nor endorsed, but something went wrong up in those spooky mountains, not so much terrorism (we are too laid back in NZ for that) but errorism, a corruption of thinking, a corruption of reason.
I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have seen what the Police have in terms of allegations and everything I hear back suggests it is serious, the manner in which blind support has been whipped up for the Urewera 17 I believe may end up being extremely detrimental to the activist community when the evidence is released, this plays into the hands of right wing reactionaries like Winston Peters, like Michael Laws, like Leighton Smith who will flay the activist community and those who rushed in to support people before they heard what the evidence was. For me, this is a matter of principle, you pick up a gun with a political aim in mind, even to fucking ‘train’ with it, and you are no longer part of a social justice movement, there is no justification for political violence against people in a country with one of the most representative forms of democracy on the planet, yes there is social injustice, yes there is righteous grievance (especially for Tuhoe who never signed the treaty and had over 181 000ha confiscated in 1866), but this fight for social justice is fought with ideas and words, you touch a gun and you should be as marginalized and mocked as much as The National Front are.
I hope that I have gotten the wrong end of the stick on this and that events aren’t about to unfold in the manner I think they are, my position has cost me friends in the activist community who have branded me a traitor, I have been hassled on the street, had viscous emails sent and someone created a carbon copy of my blog profile and has posted awful racist and homophobic comments throughout the NZ blogosphere which has resulted in a lot of angry people believing I’ve posted that shit, and there have been posts here that if I stop talking about this issue the ‘disinfo bomber’ will go away. None of this moves me one iota, and makes me wonder if these people even knew me, I won’t endorse political violence against people for anyone, not left, not right, not center, I am not pro-police (anyone who has read this site would scoff at the mere suggestion that I am) and I believe the idea of giving the Prime Minister sole discretion to decide who is and who isn’t a terrorist under the Terrorism Suppression Act is an absolute disgrace. I agree with symbolic acts against property (stealing battery hens, scratching SUVs, throwing axes through Prime Minsters windows when they confiscate land through legislation) and if you get caught you man up and take the consequences of over stepping the legal line, but the second you plot violence for political means against people, the moment you pick up a gun to train, what are you saying? That you, and you alone know the ‘truth’ and will kill your fellow NZers for that ‘truth’? Sorry baby, that just ain’t my bag. Don’t get me wrong, if the Police start shooting us in the streets, they start torturing us in the cells, they start implementing martial law and suspend elections, I’m with you shoulder to shoulder in armed resistance, but that isn’t happening here, we are so far from it, attempting any defense of armed resistance is almost ludicrous. Nelson Mandela said the oppressor dictates the nature of the struggle, in NZ the ‘oppressor’ uses 3 yearly elections, pepper spray and the odd taser gun, I can’t see how grenade launchers and napalm have any place in that equation.
So what if it is a huge beat up, a disgraceful use of police powers to justify arrogant boasts made after a late night session amongst a bunch of wannabe soldiers who felt a certain vanity and power by making such boasts? What if it is a bullshit over reaction by the cops? Well if that is the case, I’ll be the first to demand resignations from the cops and will personally apologise to every single member of the Urewera 17 for ever backing the Police and I will protest every day at Court over such an obscene abuse of Police power, and I believe it would be the destruction of any credibility the Police force will ever have with NZers. But until that moment, I think we should all wait to see what the Police have before we damn them as fascist bully boy thugs because sometimes, just sometimes, the Police are the people who protect us from the things that go bump in the night.