Tame Iti, Maori activist
, is no stranger to controversy
- with his full facial moko
he has a face you won't soon forget. But is he a terrorist?
Recently, the New Zealand Police force carried out a series of "raids"
against a "training camp" in the north island, in the first use of the Terrorism Suppression Act
, legislated in 2002. The act itself is not without it's critics
but the country seems divided
about the raids. Deluded extremists? Harmless Activist? or Real Threat? Some have claimed the raids are politically motivated
, enacted by a police force with a declining public image.
The whole case is racially loaded
The "culture of fear" that is so written about seems to have trickled down somewhat, but time will tell whether it stays with the NZ public. By one account the camps are "amateurish" and with the exception of Tame Iti the most significant charge seems to be possession of a firearm without a license.
The police, however, are certainly not helping matters
- releasing information suggesting the group intended to start a "race war" and aimed to created an independent state through methods borrowed from the IRA, while keeping quiet on other details. Their press release here
Troublesome, to me, is that the police also conducted a "non-raid"
of the homes of environmental activists simultaneously, most notably in Christchurch, over a thousand kilometres away.
I don't mean to start the thread with strong bent on it, but personally I find this worrying. New Zealand has had it's share of radicals, gun-wielding-forest-living cultists and so on, but the hype
that this has reached in the media is unsettling.
Worth noting, of course, is the Tuhoe
tribe, of which Tame Iti is a member, with unresolved/ignored disputes with the government, which are a significant sticking point. Given this, and the harsh treatment of Tame Iti in regards to the flag protest, was further "radicalization" inevitable? Does the government have a responsibility, not so much to prevent radical groups from acting violently, but instead to incorporate them into public discourse rather than disenfranchise, and thus alienate them and antagonize them?