Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Not the usual suspects
As the stain of discriminatory arrests continues to spread as terrorism provides an excuse for a global crackdown on challenges to government everywhere, 20 heavily armed New Zealand police officers arrested Maori rights activist Tame Iti (Photo by Dean Treml/AFP, appeared in the IHT). Iti was among 16 environmentalists, peace activists and advocates for indigenous rights jailed without bail (except for 1 of them), mostly on charges of possessing firearms without a license. Police claim that they’ve been watching a camp where armed men in balaclavas were seen training about 2 years ago, and acted only after the group’s threat level rose to unacceptable (for ex., one of the arrestees, a white man, supposedly sent text messages saying he was “training to be a vicious, dangerous commando” and suggesting that white New Zealanders were in mortal danger. Iti, on the other hand, is one of the most well known defenders of Maori rights and works for a government-funded program to help troubled youth of the Tuhoe tribe. While Iti’s protest tactics are flamboyant and sometimes involve firearms, weaponry is a Tuhoe tradition. According to locals, Ruatoki, the community in which Iti lives, will be known from now on as the first to be raided under the New Zealand’s Terrorist Suppression Act of 2002. And they’re waiting for the egg to appear on the raiders’ faces.