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Simon Power at the UN: bullshit and subterfuge

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New Zealand’s minister for justice, Simon Power, fronted up before the United Nations Human Rights committee this week to give the annual report about the state of NZ’s human rights. He tried to cover up the government’s assault on fundamental freedoms, basic human rights and access to justice for the poor by suggesting that his government was trying to make human rights relevant to the daily lives of New Zealanders and citizens of the world.

As a starting point, let us turn to his comments about ‘Operation 8’ the police terror raids of October 15th 2007. Power says in his address to the committee “all warrants were made based on sworn evidence and…that the charges involved intentions to commit violent actions toward creating a sense of terror among the citizens of New Zealand” The first statement completely obscures reality; the second is utterly false.

Waihopai Ploughshares trial begins: week of events planned

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Almost two years after they took direct action against the US spy base at Waihopai, near Blenheim, three peace activists are standing trial in Wellington's High Court.

Waihopai spy base intercepts electronic communications throughout the Pacific region including New Zealand and is often staffed by personnel from US agencies. In 1996 researcher Nicky Hager published an expose on Waihopai and New Zealand’s strong links to the USA-led ECHELON network of six similar spy stations around the world. The ECHELON spy network, including Waihopai, is an important part of the US government’s global spy network.

The United Nations launched an investigation in 2003 to claims that ECHELON had been used by the US government to eavesdrop on UN diplomats and Security Council members. A report published in 2000 showed that ECHELON had also been used by the US to gain commercial advantage for US corporations. Information gathered at Waihopai is transferred to the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) in Wellington and fed unseen directly to Washington DC.

Waihopai is funded by the New Zealand taxpayer yet its activities are shrouded in secrecy. All that is needed for Waihopai’s continued operation and our subsequent complicity to the ‘War on Terror’ is our silence.

Update (17/03/09): All three have been acquitted of all charges.

Links: Ploughshares Aoteaora | Trial Update (Monday) | Trial Update (Wed) | Trial Update (Thu & Fri) | Photos

Activists getting ready for Vancouver 2010 Olympic games

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In the shadow of the largest internal security operation in Canadian history, activists prepare to expose the truth about colonial politics.

From February 12-28 2010 Vancouver & Whistler will be host to the 2010 Winter Olympics and local activists are calling for a anti-olympic convergence to dispel the spectacle of the games. Vancouver is located in the province of British Colombia, Canada, on the traditional land of the Coast-Salish indigenous communities. This land was never legally ceded to the colony of British Colombia and no treaty exists between native communities and the government of Canada. This fact hasn't stopped the government from allowing the development of large settlements, such as the city of Vancouver itself with it's population of well over 1 million, nor the huge resource extracting industries that come with it. For this reason Indigenous rights activists are demanding "No Olympics on Stolen Native Land."

No Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics On Stolen Native Land | Olympic Resistance Network (ORN)

In solidarity with the indigenous peoples of Kanata, a protest will take place in Wellington on 13th February 2010, 10am outside the Canadian High Commision (125 The Terrace).

Waitangi 2010: Flags, disasters and foreshores

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2010 - 170 years since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, 150 years since the war started in Taranaki, the Tino Rangatiratanga flag even flew in far away Paris, where Te Ata Tino Toa organiser Teanau Tuiono said "Maori have a long tradition of struggle and resistance against colonisation the flag represents that struggle and Waitangi Day is the day that we remember."

"There are many different meanings for Tino Rangatiratanga and the concept itself is part of a rich and ongoing debate in Maori society. The word 'tino' is an intensifier and the word 'rangatiratanga' broadly speaking relates to the exercise of 'chieftainship'. Its closest english translation is self-determination -although many also refer to it as 'absolute sovereignty' or Maori independence. Such a concept embraces the spiritual link Maori have with 'Papatuanuku' (Earthmother) and is a part of the international drive by indigenous peoples for self determination."

Articles on Aotearoa Indymedia: No Tino Rangatiratanga No Peace | Asians Supporting Tino Rangatiratanga at Waitangi | 2014: A deadline for disaster

Links: Te Karere Ipurangi | October 15th Solidarity - Drop the Charges

Search and Surveillance Bill before Parliament

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So what’s all the fuss about the Search and Surveillance Bill?

THE SEARCH AND SURVEILLANCE BILL is before Parliament now. It has been through its second reading, but its passage has been temporarily stopped because of what was considered widespread public misunderstanding of the bill. The October 15th Solidarity group does not believe that there is any misunderstanding of the Bill- it enhances state powers and fundamentally alters some core concepts in law to such a degree that even the Law Society and the Chief Justice have serious criticism of it.

So much is hidden within the 197 pages and 316 clauses of the Search and Surveillance Bill, it’s hard to know where to start.

The bill is meant to streamline search and surveillance, by redefining not only police powers but also the powers of over 70 government agencies- called ‘enforcement officers’ in the bill. However, the bill does much more than that. It effectively gives police powers to agencies such as Work and Income and the Pork Board.

Howard Zinn dies at 87

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Portrait of Howard Zinn by Robert Shetterly from his series, Americans Who Tell the Truth.Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and a leading faculty critic of BU president John Silber, died of a heart attack today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling, his family said. He was 87.

"His writings have changed the consciousness of a generation, and helped open new paths to understanding and its crucial meaning for our lives," Noam Chomsky, the left-wing activist and MIT professor, once wrote of Dr. Zinn. "When action has been called for, one could always be confident that he would be on the front lines, an example and trustworthy guide."For Dr. Zinn, activism was a natural extension of the revisionist brand of history he taught. Dr. Zinn's best-known book, "A People's History of the United States" (1980), had for its heroes not the Founding Fathers — many of them slaveholders and deeply attached to the status quo, as Dr. Zinn was quick to point out — but rather the farmers of Shays' Rebellion and the union organizers of the 1930s.

Links: HowardZinn.org | An Interview with Howard Zinn on Anarchism

Occupation and Resistance: from Palestine to Wellington

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A devastatingly courageous photo exhibition is opening at Thistle Hall in Wellington on February 2nd. Showcasing the daily experience of Palestinians living under occupation, the exhibition features bold images from the front line of the struggle for justice in Palestine.

2-7 February 2010 at Thistle Hall, Wellington

This exhibition is a rare opportunity for New Zealanders to see a different side of the conflict. “We want to show the different ways in which Israel destroys people’s livelihoods, homes, land and hope” says Israeli peace activist and exhibition organiser Kerem Blumberg. “But we also want to emphasise that Palestinians and Israelis continue to work together towards real peace and justice, through non-violent resistance to the Israeli state and military. Now that I am living in New Zealand, it feels like something that I can share.” continues Kerem “I have found other people here who have been witness to the occupation who wanted to make the exhibition happen”.

These moving images are the work of the widely published group ‘ActiveStills’ a collective of photographers, based in Israel, who believe in the power of photography as a tool for social justice. Formed in 2005, they have since held and participated in exhibitions in Munich, Olympia, Bil’in (West Bank), Tel Aviv, Toronto, Montreal, Malmo, Lund and Amsterdam.

Two more arrests as protests continue at ASB stadium

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Today protests continued at ASB stadium during the tennis match of the Israeli tennis player, Shahar Peer. The vocal crowd of about 30 protestors, had become emboldened by five unlawful arrests on the previous day. Consequently, two further arrests occured for simply yelling into a megaphone.

In an effort to drown out the protester's message, ASB stadium had gone to such lenghts as to hire a live band to perform across from the picket line.  Unforunately for them not much could be done once Shahar Peer's tennis match began.  Two protesters on a magaphone were quickly warned by police that if they did not stop the disturbance they would be arrested. Officers then moved in, and considerable media presence led to a dramatic arrest.

The police were very intent on keeping any sound device from being used in the area. After a couple of hours, it seemed as though the police were moving in to make further arrests of those left chanting.  People by this time had began to disperse so it was decided amongst us to move along before potential further confrontation.

Shahar Peer lost her match shortly after we left.

Free, free Palestine!

Five Arrested at ASB Tennis Open Protest

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Today five pro Palestine protesters were arrested outside the New Zealand Tennis Open, heres my account of what happened.

The protest had been going for about ten minutes with protesters holding placards, chanting and using a megaphone when police approached a protester. Whilst I could not hear exactly what they told the protester the general gist seemed to be that the protester should stop using his megaphone. A few minutes later they approached a second protester who had been using a microphone and told her something similar.

Climate Camp Day of Action disrupts stock exchange

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About 150 people took to the streets early this morning in Wellington as two banners were hung overnight in prominant locations. First stop was the Stock Exchange, to disrupt business as usual and tell the profiteers of climate change that our climate is not their business. While people entered the building a samba band, radical cheerleaders and a kids block were outside all main entrances. There was also a vocal bunch from a group claiming to be counter-protesting for the right to profit from exploiting the environment. Nine people were arrested in a sit-in blockade but later released with no charge.

Meanwhile, a banner was dropped off the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) on Lambton Quay. The action was taken to draw attention to the fact that 51% of New Zealand's climate changing emissions come from agriculture. The protesters who were initially at the stock exchange, marched down Lambton Quay to support the two activists hanging off MFAT. The two climbers came down later and were not arrested.

Articles: Climate Camp Day of Action first report | Report on banner drop in Wellington | Some Photos from climate protests in Wellington | Street theatre hammers climate message home

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