Friends of the Earth on UN Bali Kyoto Protocol Meeting and Editorial on the October 15th Police Raids

icon for podpress  Friends of the Earth on UN Bali Global Warming Meeting [17:00m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

On the 3rd to 14th of�December, the thirteenth annual negotiating conference for members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will take place on the Indonesian island of Bali.� Friends of the Earth International have recently said that “The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are facing an emergency situation and that tackling climate change is critical if we are to safeguard the survival of humanity.”

Friends of the Earth identify climate change happening “as a result of the unsustainable, over-consumption of fossil fuels, particularly in the North. Current responses to this international crisis are gravely inadequate. We have less than ten years to stop global greenhouse gas emissions from rising in order to avoid dangerous climate change for the majority of the world’s peoples and ecosystems.”

As such, they believe the United Nations meeting in Bali must result in a mandate to assure a continuing climate protection process after the 2012 end of the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol.

I interview Friends of the Earth International Climate Campaign Coordinator Stephanie Long about the UN Kyoto Protocol meeting in Bali as well as the impact that the politics of global warming has had in the recent Australian election as she is from Australia.

Editorial On October 15th Police Raids

Now that the media feeding frenzy on the police raids of October 15th has subsided it is possible to get some perspective on the events and characters that were central to the police raids that terrorised the Ruatoki community and numerous other whanau and individuals throughout the country. In an interview with security expert Paul Buchannan for him the key question that has not yet been clearly addressed is what was the precipitating event that made the police move on October the 15th as Police Commissioner Howard Broad has said he was provided with information 24 hours before hand which made him authorise the police raids. Particularly as Broad believed that they were faced with a potential terrorist group at least planning some sort of action. The Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 (TSA) sets out in Section 5 of the Act what it means by terrorism:

“An act is a terrorist act
5(2) is carried out for the purpose of advancing an ideological, political, or religious cause, and with the following intention: either (a) to induce terror in a civilian population; or (b) to unduly compel or to force a government or an international organisation to do or abstain from doing any act.
5(3) is intended to cause one or more of (a) to (e) below. (a) the death of, or other serious bodily injury to, 1 or more persons (other than a person carrying out the act). (b) a serious risk to the health or safety of a population (c) destruction of, or serious damage to, property of great value or importance, or major economic loss, or major environmental damage, if likely to result in 1 or more outcomes specified in paragraphs (a), (b), and (d). (d) serious interference with, or serious disruption to, an infrastructure facility, if likely to endanger human life. (e) introduction or release of a disease-bearing organism, if likely to devastate the national economy of a country.”

Whereas, Buchannan describes terrorism as “an act of highly symbolic violence targeted against innocent civilians in everyday places to sow irrational fear and dread amongst the adult population so that they become malleable to the political will of those carrying out the attacks.” Despite the leaking of a summary of inflammatory, crude, anti-social and even deluded remarks from the suspects we the public are still none the wiser as to why such a heavy handed police operation was needed on October 15th. As none of the evidence or information subsequently released provides any basis for describing what the suspects were doing as terrorism related.

Buchannan points out a terrorist conspiracy can be reduced to 4 constituent parts:

  1. Capability - access to military know how and weaponry.
  2. Preparation - for attacking a target with training and build up of weapons that are dispersed and hidden so that they cannot all be located in one place with the establishment of safe houses and ability to move anonymously.
  3. Planning -� the penultimate stage of getting ready to move people and their gear to carry out an attack.
  4. Target - high profile target selected that would lead to the public being terrorised.

As Buchannan, however, �points out even in the secret information released there is no proof that any of these 4 conditions necessary to carry out a terrorist conspiracy were in any way in the process of being carried out. The camps were hardly a secret in the area given the hardly anonymous profile of key individuals involved, weapons were not hidden or dispersed, there were no signs of actual planning for anything and nothing concrete in the way of a target. As Buchannan points out “In reality this group had neither the capability much less the preparation to carry out either an assassination or a full fledged terrorist attack. All there was was a lot of cheap talk and ranting and raving.”

Buchannan points out that the police tried to build a wheel of conspiracy from one of the central actors who�give the impression of being mentally unhinged with 2 or 3 others engaging in fierce conversations with this person of an anti-social and delusional nature. From this core hub other people are drawn into being spokes on this wheel by attending these camps or being associates of these 4 caught up in the surveillance. In reality, however, there is no wheel of conspiracy - all there is is some unhinged individuals at the core having delusions of grandeur trying to suck others into their sick little world view and running around with guns in the back country playing games. Having said that I think the High Court got it right in originally authorising the covert surveillance by the police of these people given what was being said and done looked highly suspicious. As such, I think the police were right to keep a covert eye on these people, but nothing of what they found justified the action they took on October 15th.

The raids by the police raised the spectre in the public’s minds that there are terrorists in our midst who we need to fear and as such we should run to the state asking them to take away even more of our human rights and civil liberties in order to be protected. The notion of the complacency in the 1950’s that preceded the troubles in Ireland and IRA terrorist attacks of the latter part of the 20th century has been raised. Ultimately, it is not entirely a red herring because the political and social injustices that led to those events needed to be solved - and the only solution was ever going to be a political one which after much death, destruction and heart break has finally happened and brought about a just peace to Northern Ireland. The Terrorist Suppression amendment that was passed through Parliament soon after this incident continues the trend to increasing power in the hands of executive government over all of us to deal with a non-existent internal terrorist threat.

The Tuhoe iwi have genuine and legitimate grievances that need to be addressed through the Waitangi Tribunal and deserve a just settlement that will acknowledge the crimes of the past committed against them by the state and with economic recompense provided for a sustainable future. A central failure of this Labour government has been their unwillingness to get on and lay to rest this troubled past so that there is no need for any potential Irish like “troubles”. The whole Waitangi Tribunal process needs to be speeded up with better resourcing and more effort and resources put into making settlements. Justice delayed is justice denied and I have the impression that this process is being spun out to suit the occasional publicity needs of the government and not out of any genuine desire to right the injustices of the past.

In a country where free speech is a cornerstone of our democracy it is also legitimate for people to talk about Maori sovereignty or Tuhoe sovereignty and to promote these as legitimate political goals, but only through non-violent means. While talk like this may raise fears in the Pakeha community the simple fact of the matter is free speech means free speech. In Scotland there appears to be the potential one day for them to declare their independence from England. This does not make the Scottish National Party promoting this a terrorist entity as it promotes Scottish independence in a peaceful and law abiding manner. Having said that I for one do not support the creation of an independent Maori state or even a Tuhoe state within a state and�personally I hope this never happens. But I defend the right of Tama Iti and others to talk and promote this concept as a matter of them exercising their human rights through a democratic and non-violent process.

I would like to end this article with questions I still think need to be answered. Firstly, to Howard Broad - what was the information that made you order the police to act the way they did on October 15th? If Broad cannot provide convincing evidence for why he made the police take the action they did then he must resign and the police must publicly apologise and make sure it never happens again. Secondly, to Tama Iti and other co-accused- will you publicly state a personal commitment to only engage in the legitimate exercise of your rights to think, speak, protest and organise non-violent political action. Thirdly, why is the government granting itself more powers of control over the public using a patently misleading and false piece of terrorist fiction. As a nation we need these questions answered in order to make peace with the events of October 15th.

By Tremane Barr

About the Author: He has a mixed whakapapa (genealogy) with confirmed descent from Scottish, Irish, French, English and Maori (Ngai Tahu) ancestors (tipuna). As such, he has been known to get into a fight with himself just by looking in the bathroom mirror in the morning, but is mellowing with the rapid onset of middle age.

Related: Nicky Hagers “A Question of Intelligence

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