Where do you stand? Shutting the fuck up to not risk our freedom

November 21, 2007

There can be no doubt that being asked questions with a gun to your face is one of the scariest things that can happen to someone, and so I won’t delve too much further into those specific situations, except to say that the main thrust of my argument still holds true – not saying anything is always a better option for the overall safety and liberty of everyone concerned.

Too many people however, when confronted by Police without firearms (whether at their houses or after being called in for questioning) still talked. Too many people talked to the media, armed with only microphones. The excuses for this have been varied, from thinking one was doing the right thing, to not thinking at all, however in all cases talking had a negative effect, whether directly or indirectly.

The Police intelligence gathering in Operation 8 had two aspects – information gathered specifically to aid in the prosecution of those individuals arrested on October 15th (and any further arrests that Police stated they wished to make), and information gathered to help in building an overall picture of the Tino Rangatiratanga, anarchist and activist movements and communities across Aotearoa with a sinister eye to the future.

Some people answered simple questions like “Do you know person X?”, thinking that either the fact that they knew them didn’t matter, or assuming that the Police already knew the answer was in the affirmative. In doing this, they assisted Police to further enhance their maps of who is connected to who, who works with who. Regardless of whether or not it had relevance to Operation 8 in specific instances, it certainly will help them in investigating any future activity.

When confronted by Police at your house, if they don’t have a warrant, make sure they leave your property immediately. No ifs, no buts. Don’t answer any questions, don’t let them walk around your back yard uninterrupted, don’t leave them alone unwatched until they’re gone. If they have a warrant, then let them in and watch them for as long as possible (theoretically, you should be able to watch the entire search, but Police aren’t exactly known for obeying the rules). While watching, make sure you don’t tell them anything. Don’t answer questions, don’t engage in idle chit-chat. Cops aren’t friendly except for when they think that will help them in finding out the answers to their questions – if they’re being nice, it’s not because they’re nice people, it’s because they want to lull you into talking. Don’t fall for their trap.

If you feel like you need to answer a call for questioning, either talk to a lawyer first, or if you can get a pro bono lawyer, take one in with you. Again, don’t answer anything. Don’t sign anything either, there is no requirement for you to do so. Try to recall everything they ask you – it could prove useful for working out their lines of enquiry, or discovering the extent of their surveillance.

Perhaps the worst example of talking to the media during the aftermath of Operation 8 was the front page story in The Press in Otautahi/Christchurch, with quotes from somebody claiming to be a friend of one of the people called in for questioning. This friend was quoted as saying things which should obviously not have been said to anyone, let alone a journalist from a large media organisation. A saying which is apt here is “If you don’t know anything, don’t talk about it. If you know a little, say even less.”

This isn’t a game. This isn’t about your moral indignation that you have “nothing to hide”. Operation 8 was not the usual bullshit charges of Disorderly Behaviour seen at a protest, where one could have a reasonable expectation of being found not guilty, if the charges ever reached trial. The potential charges in Operation 8 could have resulted in some serious, long term jail time, and even the lesser Arms Act charges still carry a potential of up to four years. This isn’t a game, and those talking to the Police or the media are risking the liberty of those they claim to call friends. The coercive arm of the state arrived on our doorsteps – and will potentially use the information gathered for many years to come.  Inviting a cop in for a cup of tea undermines the good work you and many others have been doing, and can put waste to organising that has taken months or years of effort to do.

At the end of the day, it comes down to a simple question of where you stand. Do you stand with those fighting for justice and liberty, or with those who seek to repress it? If you stand with the former, then it should be second nature that we do not do anything to help those who stand with the latter. One of the lessons learnt since October 15th is a very simple one, one of who can be trusted, and of who breaks trust placed in them. It would do us all well to remember that.


Otautahi Solidarity video edit

November 20, 2007

On October 15th, the NZ Police raided homes around the country, arresting Maori and Pakeha and claiming that there was a terrorist conspiracy. This film looks at two demonstrations in solidarity with the arrestees held in Otautahi/Christchurch. While all prisoners are now on bail, and no terror charges will be laid, they still face arms charges and need solidarity as much as ever!

For more info, see http://www.indymedia.org.nz, http://www.tuhoe.net, http://www.conscious.maori.nz and http://www.civilrightsdefence.org.nz

Filming and editing by me, music by the wonderful Olmecha Supreme.

If you can’t see the embedded video, click here to view.


Aotearoa anarchist arrested in Sydney, held in custody

November 17, 2007

A feature I just wrote for Aotearoa Indymedia:

Aotearoa anarchist arrested in Sydney, held in custody

Gabriel Shanks, an anarchist from Christchurch, is currently being held in custody in Australia after being arrested by Police at Sydney Airport where he had a stopover en route to Europe. He has been charged with at least one count each of riot and affray, and will appear in the Waverly Court on Monday for an extradition hearing to the state of Victoria.

The charges stem from a protest in Melbourne against the G20 Summit, a meeting of governmental representatives from 20 nations including the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and Russia, in November 2006. Police are alleging that Shanks is one of the 28 “persons of interest” who had photographs of them released via corporate media outlets by the Police in an effort to identify them. Over 240 charges have been laid in total against over 25 protesters, most of whom were arrested in raids in the days and weeks following the protest.

Links: G20 Arrestee Support Website | G20 Protest feature from Melbourne IMC | Post G20 raids from MIMC | MIMC “persons of interest” feature

Updates

Monday 4pm – Gabriel is being flown to Melbourne as we speak, and will appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court tomorrow (Tuesday) at 10am.

Tuesday, 4:10pm – Gabriel was granted bail in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, and will have his next appearance in January 2008.


One good thing, two bad…

November 17, 2007

The one good, two bad theory is one I’ve heard a lot lately – that, in regards to the recent cop raids, we’d hear one good piece of news in the morning (ie – someone getting bail) which would get us excited, only to be followed by two bad bits in the afternoon (ie – someone being refused bail, or the Welly prisoners being moved to Auckland).

That theory went up in flames when on the same day we heard good news all afternoon – that no charges would be laid under the Terrorism Supression Act, that the remaining 3 Welly prisoners would get bail unopposed the next day, and everyone else would be out not long after…

Still, it seems the good news had to be followed with some bad, and after joining the hikoi in Wellington on Wednesday, and meeting some wicked Tuhoe crew, it was about time for some bad news…

It came when I checked my email earlier – a friend of mine, an anarchist from here in Aotearoa, was arrested on arrival at Sydney airport en route to Europe on charges stemming from the protest against the G20 Summit in Melbourne in November last year. He’s currently awaiting an extradition hearing to Victoria from New South Wales on Monday. All my love and solidarity to him!

26 people have been arrested over G20 charges, with a total of 246 charges laid. Check out the After G20 website for details on the support campaign for all of those arrested.

Hat tip: SlackBastard


State terrorists kidnapped my friends – but we got them back!

November 9, 2007

Friday 9 November

11:00 am: Whiri Kemara has just been bailed. Crown did not oppose.

4:00 pm: Valerie Morse, Emily Bailey, Omar Hamed, 23 year old Wellington male, Tame Iti have just been bailed.

FUCK YEAH!

Words can’t express how good this feels!


No terrorism charges for the Urewera 16!

November 8, 2007

The Solicitor-General, David Collins, announced at 4pm Thursday that he would not be granting permission to the Police to lay charges under the Terrorism Supression Act for any of the 12 people they had applied for.

He said that while he felt that the Police had acted properly, after reviewing hundreds of pages of transcripts and video evidence, he felt there was not the required evidence to proceed with charges under the TSA. All 16 arrestees still face arms charges.

The three remaining prisoners from Wellington have a bail appeal in the Auckland High Court at 2:15pm Friday.

The Attorney-General, Michael Cullen, said he will act on the Solicitor-General’s reccomendation to refer the Terrorism Supression Act to the Law Commission for review.


Amir Mohebbi released from prison!

November 7, 2007

Amir Mohebbi, an Iranian asylum seeker who was Aotearoa’s longest serving remand prisoner was released after a bail application in the High Court.

Mohebbi, who has a wife and 3 children in Aotearoa, had been held in prison for 3 years and 10 months.

As a convert from Islam to Catholicism, Mohebbi would have been in danger if deported back to Iran.

It is not clear yet where the next step will be from here – the Government still wishes to deport him at this stage.


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