Media bans on court reports don't help with the first, and name suppression doesn't help us with the second, so we're left to speculate with the thin gruel of information left to us, and the commonality of those arrested.
We do know that the people arrested are not friends of freedom. We do know that "military style training camps" are alleged in Tame Iti's neighbourhood. Sykes calls these "Wananga" on "Maori sovereignty," and Iti's partner insisted they were "bush camps" held "to help develop the identities of young people"-- "bush camps" and wananga that apparently involved a bomb being detonated.
We know that Auckland "peace" activists were raided for a Sig assault rifle, a BB rifle with a laser sight and a machete; that Wellington peace" activists were raided on similar grounds; that Tame Iti was raided and found in possession of firearms, napalm and molotov cocktails; that one man was arrested in Palmerston North; one woman in Hamilton; that Christchurch environmental activists were targeted, (but not raided as the police had no search warrant); and that these search warrants have been issued and weapons seized after a year-long investigation of "a core group of about 20 people but with 40 more potentially involved," with a view to laying charges under anti-terrorism laws. Notes Scoop:
With one exception each charge laid in Wellington alleges that a relatively large group of people – a number of other people have been arrested in Auckland and the Bay of Plenty & Palmerston North – were “unlawfully in possession of a firearm except for some lawful purpose” in Rotorua on each of six occasions.Charge sheets filed in Wellington alleges offending occurred on:Names mentioned so far as being either arrested or targeted include Tame Iti, "peace" activist Sam Buchanan, Radical Youth organiser and Students for Justice in Palestine head Omar Hamed, Save Happy Valley Coalition organiser Francis Mountier, and Jamie Lockett, and members of organisations like Radical Youth (which explains why John Minto was out and about last night defending those arrested) , the Wildcat Anarchist Collective, and A Space Inside (aka Necropolis) . Blogger Trevor Loudon, who likes to keep an eye on those with indelicate designs on the country has run profiles on all of these characters in recent months, which he's already re-posting. Keep an eye out.
16th-19th November 2006 (with a semi-automatic rifle)
10th to 14th January 2007 (a rifle)
26th to 29th April 2007 (firearm)
21st to 25th June 2007 (rifle)
16th to 19th August 2007 (shotgun & rifle)
13th to 16th September 2007 (Molotov cocktails & military semi-auto rifle)
Reaction to the arrests so far has been mixed, with most people waiting for information before commenting. However, Indymedia is already running comments like this:
This is a vicious, violent cowards attack and demands a measured response. I propose that monies be raised in cyberspace and anyplace in order to predict when exactly the police minister and PM will be permanently retired... Fuck the democratic-socialist scum that always turn to fascism - we will bury you. You want the fucking dark ages back you better be careful what youse wish for.And Martin "I'm a fat poseur" Bradbury insists he has inside information that "when it comes out what they were planning Middle NZ is going to go fucking nuts" -- which could mean whatever you want it to mean, really -- the Maori Party claim this is a move against Maori
Meanwhile, Lindsay Perigo offers this observation:
The arrest of members of pseudo-Mordi Sovereignty cells, green groups and "peace" activists for their participation in terrorist training camps in isolated areas of New Zealand's Bay of Plenty should surprise no one, says SOLO (Sense of Life) Principal Lindsay Perigo. "Especially when Annette 'I jumped for joy after 9/11' Sykes comes out in their defence. We've long known these types had the destruction of western freedoms in their sights. "The police are to be congratulated on doing their job for once, instead of persecuting marijuana smokers and those who defend themselves from murderous crims.With so little information so far, it's impossible to judge whether actions so far are justified, but we do know already from their past histories that the people arrested are not friends of freedom, and from the weapons seized that "peace" activists shouldn't always be taken at their word. I would hope that if the charges are justified that justice will be allowed to be done and that we can see it being done -- and that we won't see a gutless backdown and the release of people full of hate with new grievances to nurse.
UPDATE 1: Media reaction around the world is less pacific than the apologetics of local media.
- Explosion prompted terrorism raids - 'Sydney Morning Herald'
- Arms cache discovered in secret Maori ‘terror camps’ - London 'Times'
- New Zealand police arrest 17 in terror raids - 'Guardian'
- New Zealand activists held after terror raid - 'Telegraph'
- New Zealand in first terror raid - Al Jazeerah
- NZ police hold 14 in terror raids - BBC
- Armed New Zealand police conduct weapons seizures, arrests in raids - 'International Herald Tribune'
- NZ police arrest 17 in terror raids - Press TV, Iran
- NZ activist among 14 in 'terror ring' - Melbourne 'Age'
- Maori targeted in anti-terrorist raids - 'Sydney Morning Herald'
It is understood the people under investigation had been attending military-style training camps in the Ureweras for months. Police are believed to have suspected that some of the instructors at the remote camps had Army or police backgrounds and were experienced in handling weapons.Police investigations indicate some members of the Tuhoe tribe, who point out their ancestors never signed the Treaty of Waitangi, have been involved... Sources have suggested the training camps were intended to prepare a terrorist group that planned assassinations for causes such as declaring the Tuhoe region in the Bay of Plenty an autonomous state.Two other sources told the Herald they had attended military-style guerrilla training in the Ureweras.UPDATE 3: Lockett has been released on bail. "Judge Josephine Bouchier said that on the evidence before her at the moment, Lockett could not be considered to pose such a significant danger to the public that he should be in custody." Summarising, says Stuff:
Nope. Nothing in statements like that and the possession of weaponry with which to do it to indicate he'd be a danger to the public.
The Crown said police had intercepted communications in which statements like the following had been uttered:
"I'm training up to be a vicious, dangerous commando"; #para "White men are going to die in this country"; #para "I'm at war. I'm declaring war on this country very soon". #para It described Lockett as someone who was an active participant in a group that had the potential to make a violent impact on New Zealand society.
UPDATE 4: From Russell Brown:
This is the Trade Me feedback page for one of the men arrested, who traded as hunt4life. He bought a hell of a lot of stuff -- ammunition, combat gear, at least one semi-automatic rifle (of a type that could plausibly used for hunting) -- and sold very little. Whatever else might be discovered about hunt4life, his Trade Me rep was first-class.UPDATE 5: A commenter asks me, " shouldn't there be a libertarian right-to-bear-arms defence in this case?" And is answered by another intelligent commenter:
I didn't see cyber-hori's feedback, but Scoop's photograph of the search warrant for the Wellington house suggests a similar haul.
Would these people really do what is alleged? I don't know, but this blog, which seems connected to some of those arrested, seems to countenance armed resistance in theory. On Indymedia, one looney (who also wanted to come to the New Year "freedom fighters" gathering that seems of interest to the police) is calling for an end to peaceful protest and to "rise and strike down those who have inflicted their pain into the Name of Freedom."
In itself, I don't see a problem with having firearms training.So there's the point in a nutshell: Training with firearms to commit crimes is not okay, and anyone doing so should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The problem is that self-defence isn't properly recognised in NZ law, and we've learned that those who administer NZ law can't exactly be taken on trust. In other words, we won't know for sure whether "a libertarian right-to-bear-arms defence" exists until or unless the full case is presented before a court.
The important factor is the intention: training with firearms for sport or personal reasons - ok. Training with firearms for committing crimes - not ok.
Judging by the number of firearms charges, it's likely that the use of firearms hasn't exactly been legit. Then again, "except for some lawful purpose" is dubious - self defence isn't even considered a lawful purpose in NZ.
UPDATE 6: Says Lance Davey at SOLO:
Whatever Tame Iti and his ilk were planning and training for was not peaceful protest. The nature of the groups involved—communist, eco-terrorist, brown supremacist, Islamo-fascist—and the reported weapons seizures puts paid to any idea of lawful protest. Groups such as those are fighting for one freedom only, the freedom to oppress others at the point of a gun. These self-described “freedom fighters” are fighters of freedom, not for it. They are enemies of individual liberty. But the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. This is still Nanny State that we are dealing with here, and she is still, for the most part, an evil old bitch.He points out that because "the state has arrested the 'bad guys' does not instantly make them the 'good guys'."
We must not lose our heads, and we must not allow agenda-driven MPs to manipulate the masses into supporting anti-freedom legislation.New Zealand First MP Ron Mark [for example] has already raised the idea of abolishing the right to freedom of association. More calls for more state oppression of individual liberty will follow. People should not allow fear to cloud their judgment.