Showing posts with label Protest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Protest. Show all posts

Monday, October 28, 2013

Coal Action from Mangatawhiri to Kanaky

On a warm Labour weekend Monday, Coal Action Auckland staged a roadside protest near the Waikato town of Mangatawhiri along State Highway 2 to draw people’s attention to the looming threat of a new coal mine adjacent this popular holiday route. The threat doesn't come from where you would expect though, not from the traditional mining companies you hear about, but Fonterra; the largest dairy co-operative in the world.

At first glance it may appear strange that a dairy company wants to open a coal mine, but Fonterra, through a direct subsidiary; Glencoal, already operate many coal mines throughout the country. Fonterra use this coal in it's boilers, to produce powdered milk for export. This is where a large proportion of New Zealands carbon emissions come from. Glencoal has been granted consent to extract coal from the site for eight years, providing an additional 120,000 tonnes each year for Fonterra's milk drying plants at Waitoa, Te Awamutu and Hautapu.

It's a reckless and unethical move by Fonterra when burning coal has been proven to be a major factor in accelerating climate change. By phasing out the use of coal, and using wood waste in their boilers instead, this is one of the most easily achievable ways to reduce carbon emissions in the agricultural sector.

While this is by no means a perfect strategy, it would be a vast improvement on the current practice and was the message Coal Action Auckland was trying to get across to the thousands of holiday makers returning from vacation. Perfectly situated just off the highway, banners and placards were a welcome distraction for the near deadstill traffic, while pamphlets were handed out to the idle vehicles. Support was near 65% based on toots, thumbs up and yells of support. A very low 5% were openly opposed, consisting mainly of older white males in high end vehicles.

Along in solidarity and support were two Kanak anti mining activists from New Caledonia, who are here for a week to work on a film about the struggle in their homeland. Florent Eurisouke and his uncle Jojo are from a prominent Kanak family from the province of Houailou on the east coast of Grande Terre, the large island of New Caledonia, Kanaky.

Their people's ancestral tribal land includes the rugged and nickel rick Cap Boccage, a peninsula appropriated in the 19th century by the Ballande family originally from Bordeaux. The Ballande family are what they call 'Petit mineurs' (little miners) which is misleading as their Cap Boccage nickel mining operation is amongst the largest in private ownership in New Caledonia.

This private ownership status, the physical isolation of Cap Boccage and the historic arrogance of the Ballande family make for lax mining methods which have resulted in serious environmental damage. One particular event in 2008 was the collapse of a sump after heavy rain. This tailing's pond used to contain the acidic minerals scraped off the mountain tops to access the nickel ore was built too close to the typically very steep edge the of the operation.

The resulting collapse of the containment wall sent the toxic sludge crashing down into the coral lagoon below. The sea was red, the colour of the soil, killing all sea life for near on 20 kilometres along the coast. Florent, his father Vincent and 20 to 30 locals barricaded and occupied the main entrance to the mine for several months. He has made it his mission to protest not only the environmental concerns surrounding open cast mining but to question the legitimacy of their operation in his area on cultural grounds as well.

The group that he has formed includes staunch unionists, tribal elders, and many young people. It is an umbrella group that includes twenty-seven different environmental and independence groups and is firmly anti-colonialst, anti neo-colonialist; specifically the increasing power of foreign multinationals. Their struggle is very relevant to what we have lived with the still-on-the-reef Rena and what we are living now that mining seems to be gearing up around the country. They are interested in forming links with various groups around the country and will be speaking on Monday night at the University of Auckland at 7:30pm. Details here.

-Nico, SA

Thursday, August 08, 2013

For a world without spying

This is a copy of the speech given by Julia Espinoza to the rally against the GCSB Bill opposite Aotea Square on 29 July.

Kia ora, my name is Julia and I must start with expressing my gratitude and privilege at being able to share with you, some of my story, experiences and thoughts on the illegal spying and the GCSB bill before parliament.

I was born and raised in Aotearoa and I am the daughter of two political refugees which had to flee the political unrest in Chile.

Unfortunately, I too know, first hand, what it is like to be illegally spied upon.

My father was a political activist in Chile, fighting for democracy during Pinochet’s CIA and Chicago Boys-led military coup, where more than 3000 people were killed, 80,000 imprisoned and 30,000 tortured.

I will always remember that growing up, my family were under constant surveillance from the SIS. Our phones tapped, our house watched, direct threats were made against any political involvement here in NZ and endless harassment not only on us as a family, but to our workplaces, places of study and also to our extended family.

My family has never been involved in anything illegal. But for some reason, this government was feeling somewhat threatened. Threatened by our knowledge? Or perhaps our determination to stand up and fight for what is rightfully ours.

Intelligence gathered in NZ on Chilean activists fighting the regime, was being passed back to Pinochet’s secret policemen, who were then using it to further crackdown on the movements fighting for democracy.

The international solidarity campaign to isolate the murderous Pinochet regime, was absolutely crucial to the restoration of democracy. But NZ’s government surveillance of peaceful protesters against Chilean naval ships visits to Auckland and the NZ forestry investments in Chile, helped to create a climate of fear amongst the Chilean refugee community. Who knew what was being passed back, and if you were a prominent political activist, would your family back home be jailed? Be tortured? Be killed?

The GCSB Bill, if passed, will legalise the routine surveillance of NZ citizens fighting in solidarity with human rights and democracy movements around the world. That information won’t be staying in NZ. As we all know, it will be passed onto the NSA and CIA through the Five Eyes echelon alliance, and then given to who knows what repressive regime the US government is propping up in Latin America, or Asia, or the Middle East.

Yesterday in Santiago, Chile, young men and women organising for freedom, had to worry about the information being gathered by the secret police here in Auckland. Tomorrow it could be in Suva, it could be in Saudi Arabia, it could be in China.

Should we allow intelligence gathered by the GCSB in New Zealand to be passed to cut-throat criminals by our American allies? Hell no!!

I carry very close to me, my family's experience in Chile and everyday I am grateful for the opportunities Aotearoa and its people have given me and my loved ones. But this government get’s evermore embarrassing by the day.

Once our information is out there, it is very hard to get it back.

We need to defend our civil rights.

And let’s be very clear, what John Key and his government is trying to do IS a violation of our human rights! And we MUST keep fighting!

I have a dream! That governments all around the world, will stop spying on their citizens! That one day on the green hills of Aotearoa, Kim Dotcom, Edward Snowden, Tame Iti and Bradley Manning can sit and have a korero and know that Obama, that John Key, that some wannabe James Bond somewhere isn’t listening in to them. A world without spying. That’s what we are fighting for today.

Kia kaha.

Monday, July 01, 2013

We’re all Brazilian in this Struggle

Saturday the 22nd of June was a typical winter Auckland afternoon with beautiful blue skies, frequent showers, howling wind, overcast conditions, and at moments a combination of all four. To be quite honest it felt pretty far removed from the images we are used to seeing of beaches, thongs, football, and parties that have become the western perception of Brazil. But on this typically Auckland day the Brazilian community of Auckland came out in force to demonstrate their anger and frustrations against the ongoing corruption, exploitation, and police brutality that has come to define the capitalist legacy of Latin America’s largest nation, and future torch bearer for corporate mega events, the World Cup and of course the financial black hole that is the Olympic Games.

Brazilians and their supporters worldwide have been coming together in solidarity against the vicious police repression, and ongoing media myths that permeate most discussions regarding the actions currently being undertaken in Brazil. Tired of hearing the same mainstream media storylines repeated day in and day out that it is only a few thuggish Brazilians who are violently revolting, and that this whole issue is because of a 20c rise in public transport costs (so that Brazilians can be dehumanised and sound absolutely pathetic compared to those in the West who consider 20c not worth picking up off the ground), the 3000 odd voices in Albert Park and Queen Street made it clear that this fiction was belittling, frustrating, and that the current neo-liberal capitalist regime had to go. Talking to the many demonstrators and marchers it was clear that most felt change was needed in a country where the World Cup and the Olympics have become convenient scapegoats for rampant corruption, theft, and repression in a society where teachers get paid approximately $500(NZD) per month, hospitals are completely broke, costs keep rising, and joining in the Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro gang culture is one of the only ways out of starvation for many young Brazilians born into slums devoid of hope, work, and any chance to raise themselves out of the grim prospects that neo-liberal capitalism has assigned them to.

This is not to say that this was a socialist march per se, as there was a distinct flavour of nationalism permeating the crowd. This was to be expected – after all this was a demonstration a long way from Rio or Sao Paulo, and a lot of the crowd were middle class and fortunate enough to be able to afford to travel to New Zealand, whereas most of the working or unemployed oppressed in Brazil obviously have very limited options when it comes to escaping their lot under this current system in Brazil alone, let alone internationally. They are the ones at ground zero, mixing the sugar into the Molotov Cocktails so that they stick to their targets, and improvising tear gas masks out of plastic bottles so that they can continue to fight in the face of brutal and ongoing police oppression.

But more importantly than this superficial division, this nationalism represented the wide ranging frustrations amongst many people particularly on the left, that the Partido dos Trabalhadore (the Brazilian Worker’s Party) had completely and utterly sold them out and let them down as they integrated themselves into capitalist democracy. Starting as a radical grassroots organisation in the early 1980s, continued electoral success (indicating a wide ranging belief and support in socialist and radical revolutionary policies amongst Brazilians at a time when New Zealand politicians were praising Milton Friedman with the religiosity and fanaticism of Brian Tamaki) watered down the PT to the point where they are now part of the problem in many people’s eyes. Internal struggles and conflicts over the direction of the party led to it openly embracing a centre left moderate philosophy and joining the mainstream during the 1990s. Combined with a 2006 election scandal, and the state of affairs in Brazil today, significant portions of the crowd understandably felt that their Worker’s party was essentially ‘more of the same’ – a feeling all too familiar for any traditional Labour supporters in New Zealand and the UK who saw their party’s proud working class and union roots, trampled in the rush for a quick dollar in this ongoing neo-liberal orgy that started in the late 1970s. This led to some at times slightly heated discussions with certain marchers who felt that the demonstration was not in fact political, but more a nationalist celebration of sorts. But overall there were no real problems, and most Brazilians I spoke to were grateful and truly touched by the show of solidarity from the New Zealand marchers, who for this one day were all Brazilian in spirit.

The rise against capitalism is kicking off worldwide. We have seen the Arab Spring, the fall of Europe, the rise of radicalism in the UK, the death of the Republicans in the USA (although in fairness only to be replaced with the Republican-lite Democrats), the fighting spirit of the people in Istanbul, and now Latin America is heaving under the anger at what the inhumane damage the very few have done to the very many in such a short space of time. The North American corporate oppression in Latin America could only be hidden for so long, and the tide is beginning to turn. We are united with our friends and allies in these battles, and we support them wholeheartedly in their struggle to take their country back from the thieves and liars that have done their best to destroy the working classes, and institute their form of modern slavery on the masses. We will be there supporting you the whole way, and as I said before, we are all Brazilian in this battle.

-Bevan M, SA

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

One Trade Agreement to Bind Them...

 The Evil forces of Multinational Mordor gather at the Tower of the Sky. Now is the time for all good working Dwarves, environmentalist Elves and honest Hobbits to take swords and shields in hand, and Unite the Fellowship to defend Middle Earth against the darkening hordes of the TPPA.

Let the Fellowship gather at 2pm 
Saturday December 8th, Aotea Square.

"endorsed by the High Council of the Fellowship, the Elven Environmental Alliance, the Dwarven Methrylworkers Union and Hobbits First."- :)

join and share the facebook event HERE

Sunday, December 02, 2012

The Big Push- 6pm Friday, December 7th.

Aotearoa is Not for Sale- take to the streets again to oppose the plans to privatise State Assets, and celebrate that over 300,000 people have signed the petition for a referendum. With a last Big Push, its time to force a democratic vote to reject these failed policies once and for all.

Aotearoa not for Sale- Hui on Tuesday night Dec 4 at 7pm, to plan for the Big Push on Friday. Unite Union, 6a Western Springs Rd, Morningside.

Endorsed so far by- the Labour Party, the Mana Movement, the Green Party, Ne

w Zealand First, the Alliance, the Council of Trade Unions, the CTU Runanga Kaimahi Maori, the Unite Union, MUNZ, the Working Womens Resource Centre, We are the University, the Tamaki Housing Action Group, Kia Maia Ratana Church, Climate Justice Aotearoa, the Migrant Workers Association and Socialist Aotearoa. Keep those endorsements rolling in :)

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Free Pussy Riot!

Pussy Riot. Whether you've heard the name said by news anchors struggling to maintain professionalism whilst saying the word 'pussy', or whether you have heard it chanted in solidarity - the name has been on many lips. Throughout history men and women have been locked away or severely punished for speaking or working against their government. Pussy Riot are the latest in a long line of strong men and women who have been made to pay a harsh price for airing their political views. The feminist punk band were sentenced to two years in jail in August (2012) for speaking out against President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.

Throughout history men and women have been locked away or severely punished for speaking or working against their government.

 On Thursday the 4th of October a number of students, led and organised by Cate Bell, staged a protest in the University of Auckland Quad. The protest involved a number of students sitting inside a cage as a symbol of Pussy Riot's imprisonment, whilst the other students spent the day encouraging fellow students to write and sign letters of protest to both the Russian ambassador in NZ and the prosecutor general in the case. The Auckland based punk band "Penny Dreadfuls" played in the quad with one of their songs written about and dedicated to Pussy Riot.

“This is part of the continued silencing of dissent in the country, in a concerning shift to heavy hand state practices reminiscent of Stalinist totalitarianism,” said Cate Bell. “Pussy Riot’s struggle also cannot be separated from the New Zealand government’s treatment of political dissent such as in the cases of Tame Iti and Rangi Kemara. The protest aims to demonstrate the similarities between the two governments’ treatment of political prisoners and to engage debate surrounding the concerning trend of western government’s when dealing with dissenting political opinion.”

The Auckland based punk band "Penny Dreadfuls" played in the quad with one of their songs written about and dedicated to Pussy Riot.

Approaching students for signatures can occasionally be difficult with apathy and cynicism being barriers to wider political involvement and the growth of political movement on campus.

"Excuse me, do you believe in freedom of speech?"

"Nah.." came the reply as the student I had approached pushed passed me.

However many students were very supportive and either knew and had been following the Pussy Riot case or were eager to learn more. Many were shocked that in an era where 'freedom of speech' is a right many expect and enjoy, people engaging into political discourse - people exercising that right, were being jailed and punished. We ended up with over 700 letters to send away. This is not just an attack on the band, but it a threat to all political activists who continue to speak out against their government. It is crucial that we show solidarity, speak out in support and urge governments around the world to free ALL political prisoners.

- Stacey H. ~ Politics student at University of Auckland

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Video: Afghanistan war protest in Auckland

Video by Billy Hania from last Sunday's protest against NZ troops in Afghanistan.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The thieves must be stopped

In the last few hours as National pushed its asset sales through parliament activists mounted a picket of Mighty River Power in Auckland, the first electricity company due to be privatised.

On Saturday 14 July we need to get out in the streets across Aotearoa and march against the theft of our assets. This is the winter of dissent. HamiltonPalmerston North, Christchurch and Auckland are organising. Join them.

The lie being repeated in the newspapers and the television from the Prime Minister is that these asset sales are about reducing government debt. This debt lie is at the heart of the austerity programme being bulldozed ahead by National. Beat the lie, defeat the government. The privatisations are rich people stealing the assets and natural resources of the people of Aotearoa.

The majority of New Zealanders are opposed to asset sales. But we can't leave it to petitions and the 2014 election to win this.

It's when thousands of people are marching together in the streets against the government's lies and telling the truth - the government and the rich are thieves - they get the confidence to take the next steps.

The union movement needs to rally its membership on the streets again. Mana, Greens and Labour need to be pushed to re-nationalise stolen assets without compensation next time they are in Government. The ANFS movement needs to consider mass direct action to disrupt the sales.

 -Socialist Aotearoa

Friday, June 15, 2012

'Only the hood can change the hood'

Justice and freedom in education, health, poverty wages and justice were the key themes of a march by 2000 Pasifika people in Auckland city this morning.

To the beat of Cook Island drums under the flags of Pacific's many nations thousands of Pasifika people protested unaffordable education from ECE to varsity, institutional racism in the justice system, a minimum wage you can't live on and a health system not working.

Speakers at the march celebrated the struggles of Pacific peoples in Aotearoa and beyond like Samoan independence and halting the dawn raids of the 1970s.

There was anger at the National Government and also at Len Brown for ignoring the problems of Pasifika people. 'We scrub the toilets and work on the factory floor. We give this city it's colour. We helped build this city and yet we can't afford school uniforms for our kids.'

The march stopped outside Auckland University to protest fees and discrimination. It stopped under the shadow of the Skytower to rally against pokies.

There was lots of dancing and singing and even a group gymnastics to start the march followed by chants of 'Hey Auckland listen up! Pasifika people are standing up!' and 'When Pacific people are under attack, stand up fight back!'.

'Our people did not come to Aotearoa to die of Type 2 diabetes!' yelled Efeso, one of the main organisers to the crowds of people who had come in mostly from south and west Auckland. There was good support from Labour, Greens, Mana, Socialist Aotearoa, trade unions and church groups for the demonstration.

-Socialist Aotearoa

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Stopping snatch squads and breaking kettles

Kettling of student protesters. They eventually broke out and ran through student areas to reform in Albert Park.
This article is about staying safe during demonstrations and making sure the police are unable to violently and illegally repress protest movements by targeting activists and corralling protests. It gives people lawful options for resisting unlawful state repression.

There has been some online discussion about police tactics on Friday's student protest. It is clear the Auckland police are adopting two tactics learnt from overseas - snatch squads and kettling.

Kettling was used as student protesters marched near the Business School. It is an extremely effective way of stopping protesters from exercising freedom of expression. There are serious legal questions that hang over the lawfulness of kettling peaceful protesters exercising fundamental human rights. Some police forces worldwide have banned the practice. Friday's kettle was lightly policed, overseas riot cops have shields and batons, and future kettles may not be so soft. The video below shows how to effectively and non-violently break out of a kettle.

Snatch squads were used repeatedly to pull out activists with megaphones throughout the demonstration on Friday. They are not a new tactic, last year we saw snatch squads target predominantly Maori student protesters. However they are increasingly being used by the police. In Glen Innes against activists like John Minto and in the universities. The main snatch squad people are focusing on is when some 10 to 15 police charged the kettled crowd to pull out Omar. A number of sergeants and senior sergeants had already led snatch squads that failed to apprehend target protesters on Friday. They were stopped because there was a tightness of organisation and enough people pulled arresting officers off the target. This is extremely successful and it worked at Occupy Auckland last year when a snatch squad pulled out a protester. A hundred youth gathered around the police and just physically removed them from the protester.

If a melee is not successful in stopping the snatch squad arresting a protester it can still succeed in winning a 'de-arrest'. In Wellington protesters successfully de-arrested an anti-war protester in 2005 by forming a human barrier between the police and the police car. This tactic was tried in Auckland last year at the Business School when cops illegally snatched an activist out of the crowd. It could have worked if protesters had blocked the car with more people. This is legal. Judges have repeatedly ruled that it is lawful to try and stop an unlawful arrest.

These tactics are options for people to study, practice and consider. They will not beat the police in and of themselves. The only thing that can beat the police repression is increased numbers of demonstrators. This requires attention to detail in learning how to mobilise and organise openly and successfully against the attacks on education. As Quebec's uprising against anti-protest laws show, police will not enforce repressive laws if it would require the arrests of tens of thousands of people. Our main task is to mobilise thousands of people and we have to remember we are primarily engaged in a political fight with the government, not a street fight with the police. Mobilise!

-Socialist Aotearoa

After sergeants and senior sergeants had failed to lead snatch squads against activists, a full blown Inspector commands the snatch squad which was ultimately succesful.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Protestors Clash with Police in Kuala Lumpur - Eyewitness Account

"A demonstration against the current prime minister was attended by tens of thousands today. They were trying to occupy Merdeka Square, which is next to my Hostel in the centre of Town. Today they were denied entry to the square so the surrounding streets were filled with protesters in yellow shirts.

The initial group were protesting the high price of education. The current prime minister's brother is the owner of the only bank which will only loan to students at very high interest rates. An obvious conflict of interest. 

The group swelled with people questioning the legitimacy of electoral poll results. The current government refuse to release the names of the people who voted for them. There have been cases of 200 year old people voting, an obvious sign of corruption. Many are demanding the government show an open electoral role, they are refusing. Others joined the demonstration to voice environmental policy concerns. 

"The group swelled with people questioning the legitimacy of electoral poll results."

It all started peacefully, people were chanting and gathering in the streets. Everyone was nervous as during the last demonstration a bomb was detonated inside a police cone. Many speculate that the police themselves set the bomb themselves in an attempt to silence the protesters.

I went to visit some friends on the other side of town. When I returned chaos had ensued. I was not allowed out of the train station next to my hostel due to the large crowds. I continued on the train to the next station and weaved my way back. As I turned the corner I saw hundreds of people running towards me as tear gas filled the air. Down the next street I saw police in full riot gear marching towards me. I removed my t-shirt to protect my face from the gas. Several gun shots erupted from behind me and a tear gas canister flew past. The gas stung my eyes and burnt my throat. Making it hard to breath and impossible to see. 

"No one was being violent or dangerous, but for 4 hours now the police have attempted to silence and disperse the crowds."

I retreated to the safety of my hostel and we continued watching from the roof. The police continued to fire tear gas. Everyone was running and shouting. The tear gas stopped, the crowd re-gathered chanting more loudly. No one was being violent or dangerous, but for 4 hours now the police have attempted to silence and disperse the crowds. Tonight will be interesting..." 

- Henry Lowe, Socialist Aotearoa Correspondent in Malaysia