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2008- Indymedia Highlights


2008 saw everything from giant rats being inflated to giant domes being deflated and while some were throwing pie others were digging gardens. It sure was a crazy year to be involved in global & local struggles against those who destroy our planet and enslave our brothers and sisters. Here are some of the stories that YOU published on your local Indymedia Centre in 2008. As always, the struggle continues! RIP all fallen comrades. Highlights: [2005 | 2006 | 2007 ]

Noted was Steve Luke, an Otautahi anarchist, involved since the ‘70s who tragically passed away. Two major anarchist conferences were held in Otautahi, firstly a Anarcha-feminist hui and then the third annual conference of the South Pacific Christian Anarchist network. In May no less than five anarchist publications were released including Issue #9 of the irregular anarchist magazine, Imminent Rebellion. The Anarcha-feminist zine, MsFit came out in August 2008 around the theme of “fighting back”; and From the Kitchen, an anarchist men’s zine on gender issues was released.

Auckland Anarchists mixed and mingled at a number of Assemblies, the Workers’ Party conference rolled around again, and womyn united to Take Back the Night. Activists arrested at the G20 in Melbourne in '06 were committed to trial in June '09, there were sweeping "anti-terror" arrests of autonomists in France. In Japan protestors confronted the G8 amid detentions of activists and there was an insurrection in Greece.

As the planets biosphere continued to suffer under the relentless assault of consumer capitalism and as the reality of an ice free summer Arctic by 2012 sunk in ecological resistance movements gathered momentum. Climate camps across the world including Australia, the UK and Hamburg inspired planning for a camp here in 2009. Meanwhile climate campaigners “walked the walk” all the way to Happy Valley, dodging bullets and dropping banners. Other environmentalists got busy protesting global and local "climate criminals" in Auckland, and as Air New Zealand was awarded a Fossil Fools Day award in the North Island a small protest in the Christchurch was attacked by police. The Flat Earth Society reached out to climate sceptics, scary Critical Masses rolled through major cities and a small town in the South Island banned plastic bags.

The more committed eco-activists stalled destruction of the Manawatu River watershed by torching a $750,000 drilling machine, threw pie and coal at Solid Energy’s CEO, and cut down 19 genetically modified pine trees at a research site near Rotorua

Workers’ struggles
2008 marked the 100 year anniversary of the eleven-week Blackball miners strike and saw more determined struggle against poverty and for dignity. Wellington Bus Drivers rejected a bad offer got locked out, fought back and kept struggling till they won! McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast food chain, faced the largest industrial campaign its ever seen as hundreds of angry workers took part in at least 60 strikes in September and October building momentum across Auckland, through Hamilton and all the way to Kamo and Wellington before besieging a national conference of managers at a luxury Hotel and threatening to burn Ronald McDonald before settling a new contract with significant improvements.

Airport foodcourt workers carried out strikes and protests against medieval conditions and the countries “worst employment contract”. Indy also brought news of distribution workers, teachers and cleaners, Farmer’s shop assistants, mental health workers and tailors all out on strike during the year as well.
New Zealand transport workers picketed the Iranian embassy in Wellington in solidarity with Iranian Bus Driver Mansour Osanloo, who remains in jail along with three more Iranian unionists arrested at the end of December. Revelations of systematic abuse of temporary migrant workers surfaced in Marlborough; while ruthless attacks on workers’ rights and wages by the corporations ANZ Bank, Fairfax Media and Hamilton Bus all met resistance. SkyCity bosses got the first taste of “the Rat”, who will be around in ’09 to pester bosses who attempt to unjustly sack workers under the new 90-day No Rights law whose passage provoked protests in Parnell and plans for a fightback.

Animal liberation
Animal activists mourned the passing of Suzy Carey but her spirit lives on in the words and deeds of the animal liberation movement who risked arrest and injury this year to rescue animals including Strawberry the Pig, piglets for Mother’s Day, two lambs, two chickens and ten hens to mark World Vegetarian Day and World Farm Animals Day; and in just one week of action over 130 battery hens.

The Vivisectors who experiment each year in this country alone on over 300,000 animals were run out of their conference venue and confronted at their Hotel by 70 activists as they met in Auckland. Activists also initiated self-guided farm tours to witness first-hand the cruelty inflicted on battery hens and pigs.
Anti-vivisection protests at Auckland University marked World Lab Animal Day and two were arrested after they scaled on top of the Medical Science building and held a banner “Torturing animals, It's not science”. Repression continued to dog the effective “Fur Free Auckland” campaign, while in Napier over two hundred gathered peacefully against testing on Beagles.

Canterbury students occupied against the closure of American Studies and Theatre and Film Studies departments, guerrila gardeners invaded a proposed McDonalds site in Motueka, Dunedin students demanded “cops off campus” and the 128 social centre in Poneke celebrated global autonomy with a reclaim the streets party. Around 65 anti-fascists scuffled in Wellington with the Nationalist Alliance, a coalition comprising white-supremacist groups.

Tino rangatiratanga
Tino rangatiratanga struggles continued thirty years on from the occupation of Takaparawha. About a dozen Ngati Aukiwa members occupied a house on a farm in the far north. Te Ata Tino Toa flew the largest known Tino flag above the Auckland Harbour Bridge as part of Waitangi day protests, the New Zealand embassy in Berlin, was spraypainted with Tino Rangatiratanga and an East Coast tribe “sick of government and government-run Maori agencies” announced it was going autonomous.

Papua Merdeka
In Auckland West Papua solidarity activists targeted the ongoing destruction of the Papuan rainforests to fuel demand for Kwila furniture and won victories at Harvey Norman and the Design Warehouse. The campaign is now focused on Four Seasons.

Freeport mine was attacked by the West Papua Liberation Army and demonstrators in Auckland and Wellington demanded the Superfund divest from Freeport and that political prisoners be freed. Paramilitary police fired into the crowd and killed a man after a West Papuan Morning Star flag was raised at the U.N. Indigenous Peoples' Day Celebration. Ten years on from the Biak massacre the free Papua movement met and pledged unity in Vanuatu, a lawyer was arrested by for sending a text, a Rainforest defender toured Aotearoa, a tribal chief sued Freeport, and 46 were detained and 6 charged with subversion for raising the Morning Star.

At 6am on ANZAC Day morning three Christian activists cut through fences surrounding the Waihopai Spy Base. “Once inside we used sickles to cut one of the two 30-metre white domes, built a shrine and knelt in prayer to remember the people killed by United States military activity.” After almost a week in jail the Ploughshares 3 got bail, and in September headed to a Depositions Hearing, were they made it clear although they are only two humble gardeners and a friar, they will continue to resist war and violence and to stand on the side of the oppressed. 12 Clowns arrested in 2006 at anti-militarist protests around the 'NZ Defence Industry Association Forum' aka Weapons Trade Conference had their charges withdrawn. In October protests continued to haunt the conference scaring some arms traders into balaclavas . United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a narrow escape from justice with the assistance of the New Zealand Police when she met with Government leaders in Auckland in July chased by 150 protesters spurred on by a bounty of $10,000. They called for her arrest under the Geneva Convention for war crimes and for her role in authorising the use of torture.

Former Auckland anarchist Danny “Vegas” was jailed in the US on charges of rioting against the war in Iraq. Auckland peace activist Harmeet Sooden was arrested, assaulted, placed in solitary confinement before being deported while attempting to enter Israel to work as a human rights defender with the International Solidarity Movement. Irish anti-war activists stood trial and got not-guilty for smashing up Raytheon offices, while Aussies performed an exorcism. After protests against Super Fund investments in Cluster Bombs the fund divested from them and some companies involved in nuclear weapons.

Collaboration with tyranny
2008 saw the New Zealand state cementing its collaboration with murderous and tyrannical regimes across the world. Free trade agreements were signed with China as protests across New Zealand stood in solidarity with the Tibetan uprising against the Chinese occupation, and with the junta in Burma, who also got cellphone towers from a state-owned teletcommunications company. People in Afghanistan continued to be denied human rights by the NZ-supported Government including an Afghan student journalist who was sentenced to death charged with “blasphemy”. The sentence was commuted to 20 years imprisonment. An interview with Tongan activist E.Zekiel also brought home the effect of NZ’s continued support for the King of Tonga.

Global indigenous struggles
There were Gaza solidarity protests in December 60 years on from Al Nakba. A mural was painted in Wellington remembering an indigenous man who while he lay on the streets sleeping, was murdered by a group of rich children. Sri Lankan Tamils around the world marked Black July when between 1000 and 3000 people were massacred in 1983. There were clashes in Kanaky and the USTKE called a one-day general strike as union leaders went to jail. Zapatista supporters challenged the Mexican Ambassador, highlighting human rights violations as the Mexican Army attempts to invade zapatista territory and promises to return. There were protests in Australia to mark the Northern Territory intervention anniversary and people in Aotearoa stood up for Aboriginal political prisoner Lex Wotton found guilty of rioting An international indigenous solidarity gathering was held in Melbourne, and in Turtle Island indigenous communities continued to be criminalised, and are building resistance against the 2010 Olympics.

Philippines Solidarity
Things got worse in the Philippines with over 1000 extrajudicial killings of civilian dissidents documented under the Arroyo administration. Ka Bel’s death was mourned around the world, NZ students expressed concern for a Filipino student activist, and a daughter wished for her missing father on Father's Day. In February a US spy plane provided intelligence which resulted in an operation in which eight civilians, including a pregnant woman and two children, were killed in Maimbung, Sulu and half a million people were displaced in a Ramadan offensive against Moro people.

Big brother state
It wasn’t a good year for remaining anonymous as bumbling private eyes asked Rob Gilchrist to inform on fellow Save Happy Valley campaigners and animal rights groups. In a bizarre twist Rob Gilchrist turned out to be an informant for a police anti-terror unit that snoops on Iraqi chip store owners. An Auckland socialist was detained and strip searched at Auckland Airport and police continued to overtly harass and watch activists.

Immigration New Zealand applied to deport an Iranian Christian even though her three brothers have been granted refugee status. The Immigration Amendment Act was passed giving the state power to raid homes and work places without the need for a warrant. A US court ruled against a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal and democracy was beaten black and blue in occupied Fiji.

Te Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe and Operation 8
In the year after the October 15th raids and arrests came further arrests as the police raids swept wider first in the Bay of Plenty provoking protests and then in Auckland. Around 100 protestors gathered at Te Aro Park and marched to the Labour Party conference at the Wellington Town Hall. For approximately an hour, there was a noisy demonstration with a sit-in blockade at one entrance. United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights while Countering Terrorism has agreed that there are grounds to investigate the New Zealand Government over its conduct during the October 15 raids. There was a Global Day of Action to drop the charges and the one year anniversary of October 15 was commemorated in Ruatoki.

Arrestees headed to Auckland District Court in September for the Depositions Hearing which went for over a month. Dispatches came out on days 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 and in week 3 as the trial dragged on in Courtroom 8. One defendant and his partner were arrested during the trial and at the end of the depositions one defendant was free! Five people were then charged with participation in a 'organised criminal group'. Fairfax was judged not guilty of contempt of court by Wellington's High Court for publishing leaked suppressed evidence in the Operation 8 trials late last year, in clear violation of a court order. A Tūhoe freedom fighter appeared in Porirua District Court and Ngāi Tūhoe signed Terms of Negotiation with the Crown.