Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Whiteness, Paranoia, and finding "Terrorists"

I remember during apartheid that liberation activists were labeled "communists" and “terrorists” by the racist regime in Pretoria. The purpose was an attempt to cauterize dissent. And it did not escape anyone’s attention that the state drafted and applied security legislation very broadly and with a pathological paranoia. (Apartheid flag pictured.)

The two pieces of legislation that ‘policed’ dissent were: The "Suppression of Communism Act, Act No 44 of 1950" and the "Terrorism Act of 1967."

The "Suppression of Communism Act" made it illegal to be a "communist", or to be influenced by its ideals. Communism was defined very broadly and stretched over any area that the state needed to police. Anything that was deemed to be an act against apartheid was labeled "communism" by the state.

The "Terrorism Act of 1967" came to be the critical piece of legislation that enabled the racist regime to seek out liberation activists inside the country, detain them indefinitely, torture and even kill them, and do so without a charge.

If the "Terrorism Act" sounds like the "US Patriot Act" it is no coincidence. Both pieces of legislation emanate from racist settler states that utilize paranoia and extreme vigilance as a means toward state security.

It is hardly, therefore, a surprise that the "US Patriot Act" provides for wide search and seizure measures, detention without charge or trial, torture, surveillance of citizens without much judicial overview.

It is against this backdrop that my suspicions rose when I read that the well-known Maori activist, Tame Iti (pictured), and others were arrested in dramatic raids across New Zealand on Monday.

New Zealand authorities say that the raids were aimed at stemming a "terrorist plot" which involved Indigenous and environmental activists who were known to be conducting live ammunition training on the North Island.

reported today that documents were released by authorities that show a war was being planned.

The news report states that:
... "The messages, intercepted by police, were said to include 'White men are going to die in this country (and) I'm declaring war on this country very soon.'

Lockett was described in court as an active participant in a group that had the potential to make a violent impact on New Zealand society.

Prominent Maori activist Tame Iti was also preparing to declare war, according to police documents reported in the Dominion Post newspaper.

The documents, disclosed by police to lawyers for the accused, showed authorities had been monitoring Iti for 18 months, videoing his training camps and intercepting text messages, the newspaper quoted a source as saying.

Iti was said to have stated three months ago that he had stopped all his other activities 'to make war on New Zealand'.

The source described the movement as 'comical' and 'amateurish' with the group buying military uniforms from an army surplus store.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said the operation was 'triggered by credible intelligence of a serious threat to New Zealand's safety and security. ... "

What is 'comical' to me is how similarly the Other is policed in racist settler states. Frantz Fanon in his "Wretched of the Earth" wrote tellingly about the paranoid need to keep the Native under an ever watchful eye.

The draconian measures in New Zealand may be the first time that authorities have used the excuse of "terrorism" to justify the draconian suppression of Indigenous people but it is hardly a new measure in kind.

The suppression of liberation activists is always carried under the assumption of terrorism. And in this era the "terrorist" is anyone who stands against imperial racism and its interests.

South Africa, the US, and New Zealand, are all cut from the same imperial cloth. It should, therefore, hardly come as a surprise that they would 'police' liberation activists, and any other 'suspects', with similar measures and reasoning.

At stake throughout the project of imperial racism, is the always paranoid and fragile reality of whiteness.

For more information see: Ana's post Terrorism Smear "Strike to the Heart of Indigenous Rights" and her updated coverage.

Also see:"Suppression of Terrorism or Oppression of Tangata Whenua" by Leonie Pihama.


Anonymous said...

Research your facts first. Most of the people were charged with arms offences, for having guns they weren't allowed to. Some also had molotov coctails and other paraphenalia. Also to my knowledge, while terrorism my have been stated in the search warrants nobody has been charged with that yet. If anybody ran around at a camp in the bush, setting off napalm bombs, training with automatic rifles and making molotov cocktails then I hope the police would step in and stop them. Have any of them yet made a statement as to WHY they had these things in their possession? They can moan all they like about 'whitey' trying to keep them down (although some of those arrested were also white) but they've broken numerous laws. They are being charged with those laws they broke, and will maybe, if its justifiable and provable, be charged with terrorism. To sum it up, research your facts before you call a country racist, or is this just a kneejerk reaction to call us racist because the majority of our population is white?

Ridwan said...

Geez you are fiesty and fired up huh?

Not fiesty enough to leave a name or a blog for reference though.

So anonymous, you have read that your occupying government has declared their actions to fall within the ambit of the
"Suppression of Terrorism Act", right?

They deem the charges which amount to weapons possession and
"comical" military-style clothes to be terrorism.

Oh yes, they also have dubious SMSs records that tell of plans to make war, or what seems to be plans, etc.

Are you not ashamed to see your 'democracy' look a lot like the paranoid Australians and Americans?

Also, news reports say that there were rumours about a "napalm bomb" but that the police deny the rumour.

The charges will have to be specified and it remains to be seen how the police develop their case.

You seem to have an inside track though.

Perhaps you should give a shout out
to Kiritapu Allan Co – Director, Conscious Collaborations.

He and his folks are still trying to piece the whole thing together.

You know, why folks were arrested, spied on for months, and where they are being held, and on what charges.

Your input would be greatly appreciated, and it would lighten that chip you have one your shoulder.

You know, the one about being "whitey" and in the majority in NZ.

By the way, you sound just like your cousins in the US, Canada, Australia, and S.Africa.

Thanks for looking in though, because your comment strengthens the analysis in my post.

By the way, how did you become the majority in someone else's land?

I guess you would be even more offended if I asked you about genocide and Indigenous folk in NZ?


Tom said...

Iraqis in Iraq are "terrorists." I guess it only makes sense that Maori in Aoteroa must be "terrorists" too.

Ridwan said...

Hey there Tom. You are right man. Terrorists!

I find this news source in NZ useful for keeping an eye on develops, well outside of Ana's blog, and Indigenist Intelligence Review, and the AngryIndian:

The names are being suppressed, the charges not specified, there is an election, new 'terror' legislation in the offing, all this sounds like Australia, the US, Canada ...

Tom I trust you are well brother. Thanks for looking in here.

Peace to you.