The Crown Drops Charges, 2nd September 2011, Against Thirteen of those accused of terrorist activities in 2007. These poor people have suffered tremendous anxiety for almost four years before ‘The Crown’ finally decided that they did not have enough evidence to jail these people. They have been detained for so long under the ‘Terrorism Suppression Act’, which gives the government special powers to detain anybody, really, at any time, for whatever reason, with the real purpose of arrest being kept secret. This is a dangerous thing for a democracy.
The Tuhoe are a Maori tribe who come from the central part of the North Island. They are thought to have never been asked to sign the ‘Treaty of Waitangi’, which other Maori tribes were party to. They were raided at dawn, early one morning in October 2007, in the small town of Ruatoki which is in the Bay of Plenty. Many innocent families with children were terrorized by the onslaught of police who tore their houses apart.
The Herald says that ‘The reasons for the Supreme Court judgement remain under suppression orders’, which means that we will never be told the real reason behind this madness, that the whole charade was probably a dreadful mistake, or why it has taken four years to come to a decision, or why most of the people have been let off. This is a madness which has cost the country millions of dollars and wasted the time of hundreds of policemen and ‘secret service’ people, over a period of four years, when they could have been dealing to the crime on the streets, domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, and setting a good example to the public.
Fortunately, for the health of our democracy, and for most of those arrested, the Solicitor-General decided last week that the ‘Terrorism Suppression Act’ is ‘almost impossible to apply in a coherent manner’, and that the crucial police evidence was inadmissable at the trial to be held in February next year. He has dropped charges for thirteen of the original ‘Urewera 18’ arrested.
The Solicitor-General has decided that four of the 18 arrested in the October 2007 raids on Tuhoe property will not have their charges dropped because they relate to possession of illegal firearms. Tame Iti, who is the Tuhoe leader, is one of those people still facing charges. He and three others, Emily Bailey, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, and Urs Signer, are still accused of organized crime, with ten charges of unlawful possession of firearms and being in possession of restricted weapons such as the military-style ‘ Saiga MK03’, and Molotov cocktails, so the NZ Herald tells us today, September 7th 2011. The article is headed ‘Iti: Madness to go ahead with trial.’
Francis Lambert, a Tuhoe member who was part of the group arrested in 2007, died earlier this year.
Tame Iti says that Tuhoe have been victimized and marginalized by ‘The Crown’ for around a 100 years now. Many people believe that these raids were instigated because of racial prejudice, and show that racism in New Zealand has not yet been truly overcome.
The Tuhoe raids could have been a diversion engineered by the government, so that the media would focus on the Tuhoe raids: A diversion which would see that the heat was taken off other more important issues such as mining, or signing up Petrobras to exploit our ocean oil, or some other unpopular government plan. The organizers of the Tuhoe raids could even have had the goal of convincing the public that we needed to arm the police. Who knows?