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(en) Aotearoa (New Zealand), Personal report of an anarchist of the 15th October 2007 17 arestees

Date Wed, 14 May 2008 13:24:33 +0300

I remember hearing birds sing that morning, Tui and others. I was just waking up
in a tent in Wellington’s town belt when I heard people yelling and screaming.
What’s going on? Are they just on their way home after a wild night out and
stumbled across my girlfriend’s home? Then torch light on the tent. “Get out of
the tent! Get the fuck out of that tent!”
I was naked and scared. “I’m just putting some clothes...” “Get out of the
fucking tent! Hands in the air!” I put on a singlet and some undies and pants,
kissed Em and stepped out of the tent. Cops all around me. One was standing
right in front of me pointing his big gun right in my face. He was wearing all
black, balaclava, yelling at me. “Put your hands in the air! Get the fuck on the
ground! Get on the ground!!!” I lay down. Face in the muddy earth. “Put your
hands on your back!” He handcuffed me. A police dog was right in my face. Em had
gotten out of the tent and was lying on the ground not far from me with a cop
sitting on her back. He was hurting her hand. I yelled out to her: “You know
your rights, aye?” “Shut the fuck up!” (That was the cop.)

Probably around 10 members of the ‘Armed Offenders Squad,’ a unit which
“provides Police with the means of effectively and more safely responding to and
resolving situations in which there is an actual or threatened use of firearms
or other weapons against members of the public or Police” had surrounded the
tent. Their guns, it turns out, were Bushmaster XM15 M4A3; a military-style
weapon which can either be semi- or fully-automatic. These cops were positioned
all around the tent. Some got lost in the bush and only found their way to the
tent after a few minutes.

After being hand-cuffed, plain clothes cops
started to appear. They were wearing bullet proof
vests over their tie and shirt. I was taken up to Aro
School, shivering from being cold and scared. I asked
for my jersey and the cops put it over my shoulders
and then placed me in an unmarked police car. De-
tective Robin Hutton placed me under arrest. Two
other cops were in the car. They put on dust masks,
saying that I had been staying with someone who
has TB and that I might be contagious. “Were you
aware that the person you were staying with has TB,
Urs?” I didn’t even look at him.

Cop Shop – the heart of the beast

The car drove off to the Wellington Central Police
Station, avoiding Abel Smith Street (where our ac-
tivist community centre was being raided). I’ve been
processed at that police station four times before af-
ter being arrested at protests and have waited for my
comrades to be released outside the station count-
less times. But it was the first time I was taken to an
interview/interrogation room.
My arresting officer read out six charges for
‘possession of weapons’ and one for ‘participating in
a terrorist group’ and wanted to know what I had
to say. “Look, Urs, I’m sure you have lots of ques-
tions as to why you are here and we, too, have many
questions.” “I don’t have any questions whatsoever
and I’m not going to answer any of your questions.”
That was it – end of interview! I couldn’t believe it.
While driving down to the police station I got my-
self mentally prepared for the interrogation. ‘What

tactics will they use? Good cop – bad cop, like on
TV? Telling me that Emily had told them ‘every-
thing’? Offering me a deal? Threatening me with
Guantánamo or beating the shit out of me?’ Well,
I was ready for anything really. But no, a lame at-
tempt of confusion: the TB story which I guess was
supposed to scare me – ie. ‘Do we have enough face
masks for all the people in the court room later this
afternoon?’ (I should mention that I did not get to
see a doctor in the three and a half weeks I spent
in jail following my arrest – TB my arse!), a really
lame offer of cooperation (‘I’m sure you have lots of
questions’) and another go on the way to the hold-
ing cells (‘We have some tapes we would like you to
listen to so you get an idea what this investigation
is about. Would you like to listen to them?’ ‘No’ – is
what I said; ‘Get fucked’ – is what I thought. They
After the failed interview, I was charged with six
counts of possession of weapons which took forever
because the cop had to write everything down. They
didn’t charge me with ‘participating in a terrorist
group’ which is section 13 of the ‘Terrorism Sup-
pression Act’ (TSA) passed by parliament in 2002.
At the time I didn’t know that the police need con-
sent of the Attorney-General to prosecute me under
the TSA. I was confused to say the least.
I rang a couple of our activist lawyers. One was
down there in no time and, wearing a dust-mask,
joined me and the two cops who tried to interrogate
me. So from then on he did the talking: “My client
is not making a statement” and “no, my client does

The court room was packed with our friends;
everybody looking confused and concerned.
‘What the fuck is going on here?’

not want to give you a DNA sample.” After being photographed, the
arresting officer took me down to the holding cells where I was finger-
printed, stripped and given a blue rad suit (with hood) instead and put
in the big holding cell. Toilet time, just so I could go for a walk and see if
Em is around. Instead I saw Ira, Em’s brother, in another cell and, while
being processed, Val – another Wellington anarchist – walked passed.
The cops said we will appear in court at 2pm so they drove me down
there in an un-marked car. The capitalist media was down there already,
of course, and as we were waiting for the garage door to open, cameras
surrounded the car. I tried to hide my face and Hutton said: “I’m really
sorry about this, Urs.” Fuck you!

Court appearance No.1 – removing frogs

We appeared in the Wellington District Court that same afternoon.
News was coming in from raids across the country. Ruatoki, a small
Tūhoe community at the foot of the Urewera forest, had been blockaded
by armed police and every car was stopped and searched. Arrests were
reported in Auckland, Hamilton, Whakatane, Ruatoki, Palmerston
North and us in Wellington. My lawyer said we should try and get bail
straight away while the other lawyers weren’t so keen. Us four activists
decided to make a collective decision: we’ll make a bail application later
that week.
The court room was packed with our friends; everybody looking
confused and concerned. ‘What the fuck is going on here?’ My friends’
kid was in the court room, too. “Hi Urs” he yelled out. “Remove that
child” – the immediate response from the judge. “Love you frog!” I can’t
remember exactly what happened in court, and that would happen to
me over and over again: I was too busy looking at all my friends and
comrades in the dock and court room.
Ira and I were then taken to Rimutaka Prison in Upper Hutt while
the two womyn were taken to Arohata Women’s Prison in Tawa. That
was the start of 26 days of incarceration.

Rimutaka Prison – Terri the Terrorist

When walking into our new home, HM2 at Rimu-
taka, late on 15th October, the other prisoners al-
ready knew who we were. Here are the terrorists,
here comes Greenpeace.
Between 40 and 60 prisoners live in one unit,
usually sharing a cell. During the day, we’d get two
hours in the wing and two in the yard. Twenty long
hours are spent in your cell. The wing had a pool
table, a public phone and a few tables and chairs.
The yard is best described as a cage; sort of 20 me-
ters long and 8 wide. We played rugby, touch and
We spent our yard and wing time with the same
people. The other 12 were all members of the Mon-
grel Mob. (Unlike the prison in Auckland, gang
members are separated at Rimutaka.) They were nice
guys, looking after us and giving us new nicknames.
Three Nazi-skins were in the same unit as us and
abused us verbally. “Greenpeace sucks!” – uhm, yes, I
agree. But we never spent any time with them (lucky
for them; the Mobsters would have given them the
It took a few days to work out how this shit-
hole works. Filling out form after form, getting used
to things taking forever (or never taking place) etc.
On Thursday, after only four days, I had my first visit
which was fantastic! Over the next three weeks, the
visits along with the letters and messages of solidar-
ity and support from Aotearoa and across the world
is what kept me going.
The move to Auckland came unexpected. I had
another court case in Wellington relating to a pro-
test in 2006 and thought I’d stay around for that.
But no, we were bussed across the North Island after
one and a half weeks.
On Thursday morning of the second week, we
were woken up early and then taken to the RO
(Receiving Office). I gave one of my most brilliant
speeches ever which got around five guards staring
at me in silence: “Three things. Firstly, what you are
doing right now is illegal. Moving us to Auckland
is illegal under your own laws given that the alleged crime did not happen there
nor am I from there. I do NOT consent to being moved to Auckland. Secondly, we
are having a High Court hearing to challenge the move to Auckland. Thirdly, I
will appear in the Wellington District Court before the court appearance in
Auckland.” Or something like that. I boarded the bus feeling good.
That bus ride was probably one of the most humiliating experiences in
this whole saga. We sat in tiny individual cages with cameras pointed at us. I
was cold and, well, not exactly comfy. At least we stopped at some interesting
sites. It makes a trip so much more ‘fun’ when, instead of stopping at the Levin
playground (which has a giant hamster wheel) and getting Fish’n’Chips in Taupo,
you get to check out Linton Prison, Rangipo Prison (our lunch stop – cup of tea
and three sandwiches) and Waikeria Prison.

A.C.R.(a).P. – Maoist prison guards and suitcase murderers

Auckland was different. Wing time was all day, from 7.30am to 5.30pm. And the
time in the wing was spent with around 50 other prisoners. After spending our
first night in unit Foxtrot, we were moved the following morning after concerns
for our safety in that unit. So we ended up in Echo for two weeks.
Some of the people I met there: the suitcase murderers (they were
actually called ‘Suitcase 1, 2 and 3’ – number 4 ended up, chopped up, in the
suitcase); a guy who chopped his wife’s head off with an axe when he found her
in bed with someone else; ‘Dog Dog,’ a Mongrel Mobster from Dog town (aka
Waipawa) who
talked about the Mob all day; Luis who was on bail for dealing pot but was
arrested for breaching his bail conditions (24 hour curfew) because he went to
work (he is a baker). “How can I pay the bills and buy food for my kids? Where
should I get the money from?”
There was a Maoist prison guard – not joking! I was called in to the
Principal Corrections Officer’s of- fice one day for a security assessment. We
talked about the books I was reading (books about the Wobblies, Angela Davis and
the Paris Commune) and he said: “Well, I need to make sure then that you don’t
steal my badges behind you on the wall.” I turned around and there were badges
of Lenin and Mao on the wall and above the door. I cracked up laughing.
And there was Nik, Assole and TJ – the Mo-
nopoly posse. We would play several games a day.
The bank usually lost. I developed a polygraphic
theory: if they don’t crack after being challenged the
third time, they usually tell the truth. An example:
“You landed on Queen Street!” “No I didn’t! I had
a six.” “No you didn’t, you had a five. You owe me
$2000!” “No, I don’t. I got a six.” “Liar, you had a
five.” “Ah yeah, true, I did.” I hope that’s not how
they talk when being interrogated by the cops.
And of course Tūhoe freedom fighter Tame Iti.

Rights or Liberation – The politics of it all

Here is what I wrote to the anarchist and activist
community of Wellington while I was inside:
“I need to be quite frank here as I rather create
debate than falling in a trap of not communicating
or misunderstandings. Anything I say in this para-
graph does not go against what I wrote [earlier on];
I’m truly thankful to everybody who is standing up
right now – too much!
“I do not think that what happened on 15th Oct.
has to do with ‘Civil Rights.’ The police actions of
that day have targeted a particular tribe in Aotearoa,
Tūhoe, as well as people active in various activist
groups who, more or less, identify as anarchists (or
libertarian communists or anarcha-feminists etc.).
As an anarchist, the state is not something I look
to for protection; it is not an institution that in my
opinion will do anything for the struggle against
‘capitalist-colonialist-patriarchy’ – in fact, the op-
posite is true! The state’s ‘justice’ system, police force
and armies are protecting the interests of the ruling
class, not the indigenous peoples, not the anarchists,
not the workers, not womyn, not the environment.
“Therefore, I don’t want rights, I want libera-
“So now you might say/think ‘ah, he’s just a mad
anarchist and I simply don’t agree with his politics!’
– sweet, all good. Having different ideas around so-
cial organisation is a challenge every movement fac-
es. And the last thing I want is for you to leave this
movement that’s emerging! :-) So what am I sug-
gesting? I propose that we shift our collective focus
away from the ‘Rights,’ the ‘Legislations’ and ‘Acts’
and instead look at what these recent attacks by the
state are really about: Te Manamotuhake ō Tūhoe!
“Freedom for all political prisoners around the
world! Free Mumia Abu Jamal! Free Marco Cam-
enisch! Free Leonard Peltier! Free Tame Iti!
“Solidarity with all the people around the world
– Burma, Oaxaca, Tonga, Tūhoe – who are experi-
encing the vicious brutality of the state.
“Solidarity with workers who have recently
been on strike on the trains in France and the port
of Auckland!
“Get behind Te Mana Motuhake o Tūhoe!”
I think this pretty much sums it up and is of
course still true now, five months after the raids.

Almost certainly not the last time…

I don’t know if we were the first anarchists to go to
prison in Aotearoa – I doubt it. Tom Barker, a mem-
ber of the ‘Industrial Workers of the World’ spent
months in jail in 1913/14 for his involvement in the
Great Strike for allegedly giving ‘one of the most
seditious speeches of all time’ (whether he was an
anarchist at the time, I’m not certain). What I do
think is that this almost certainly was not the last
time anarchists spend time in prison in this country.
We are arrested for our ideas – for the thoughts of a
free society, libertarian communism – and/or for our
action – direct action – and involvement in various
movements in the struggle for social revolution.
As a comrade of mine put it: “We have to get
used to the idea that we are criminals.” The system
will portray us as violent and mad extremists without
any friends. The governmental and capitalist pro-
paganda apparatus will try to convince people that
there is no point in even looking at different ways
of organising society. But it doesn’t matter to us if a
system that is the antithesis of what we struggle for
calls us criminals and terrorists.

Hongihongi te whewheia

Not a lot has changed really since October 15th. Yes,
we now know for sure that the police and the SIS
are after us (all of us!). But then, it would have been
naive to think otherwise.
However, we need to learn. In Māori, there is
a saying “Hongihongi te whewheia” – “Know your
enemy” (a ‘hongi’ being a ‘nose kiss’). We need to
know how the forces of the state think and operate.
As it turns out, for example, they don’t hunt freedom
fighters down with tasers…
In the electronic times we live in, surveillance
has become a whole heap easier. We can be sure that
cars are bugged, phones are tapped, txts and emails
read and bank accounts monitored. However, the
biggest source of information for the oppressive
forces are people who don’t understand or ignore the
basic principle of the struggle: solidarity! If you talk
to the cops, you are compromising the freedom of
yourself and others. And it is so simple – don’t talk
to the cops! It doesn’t matter how guilty or inno-
cent you are; it doesn’t matter whether the charge is
‘obstruction’ (an activist ‘favourite’) or ‘committing a
terrorist act’ (a less preferred charge); it doesn’t mat-
ter whether you are in an interrogation room with
15 cops or just at a demo with 15 people (and one
cop); don’t talk to the cops (about anything)!
From their statements in the capitalist media,
we know that Chris Trotter and Bommer Bradbury
are certainly not on our side (well, this writer was
certain about Trotter for ‘some’ time). However, we
also had to find out that people who we considered
our comrades preferred to co-operate with the cops
than with the people who were sitting in jail.
Other things to learn from are the practicalities
of supporting people in prison, forming a support
and resistance movement in the aftermath of the
state’s attacks, dealing with the capitalist media etc.

Where to from here?

My mother asked me recently: “Do anarchists always have to fight? Can’t they
just take it easy?” I wish we could. But I call myself an anarchist – and
please, you should too. I’m sick of descriptions like ‘musician, peace activist,
pacifist, Swiss, environmentalist’ (although some of these labels are true) –
and as an anarchist, I want to know nothing but the struggle for freedom. I want
to fight with my comrades for libertarian communism, for the destruction of
colonialist-capitalist-patriarchy! So for all those who thought that the raids
on our communities, the arrests and time in jail have changed my opinion of the
state, think again.
Here are some things that I think, in no particular order, need to happen
at the moment:

1. Build on the relationships formed in the aftermath of the raids

For the moment, this will mainly be happening through the court case which will
bring everybody together. A solidarity campaign around the court appearances
in Auckland with protests and marches will not only help the people facing the
charges, but it also creates space for different groups and communities to meet,
exchange ideas and a chance to build personal relationships.

2. Support Tino Rangatiratanga and Te Mana Motuhake ō Tūhoe

Educating pakeha on colonisation, learning what role the state plays in oppress-
ing indigenous people to this day and actively support the indigenous liberation

3. Talk and write! We need to get our ideas out there

I think, that in times of weak urban activist movements, we need to do a lot of
talking and writing. There is a real danger of propaganda work becoming an
activity of ‘specialists’ only. But we are all writers and/or talkers!

4. Form affinity groups to do what needs to be done

Well, that’s an obvious one. It’s time to fight back!

5. Create, maintain and defend autonomous and radical spaces/centres for politi-
cal organising

The existence of radical social centres provides our movement with important in-
frastructure to plan, meet and make resources for various progressive movements
and initiatives.

6. Deepen our collective understanding of class, racism, the patriarchy and colo
nisation and resistance to this oppression

The time for resistance is now.
QUICK SUMMARY ---- On Monday,
October 15th 2007, more than 300 police carried out dawn raids on dozens of
houses all over Aotearoa / New Zealand. Police claim the raids were in response
to 'concrete terrorist threats' from indigenous activists. The reality, however,
included heavily armed police terrorising an entire township. To date, no
evidence of the so-called terrorist plot has been revealed.

Police arrested 17 indigenous, anarchist, environmental and anti-war activists,
including people from Tuhoe, Te Atiawa, Maniapoto, Nga Puhi and Pakeha.
Police wanted to charge 12 people under the Terrorism Suppression Act
(TSA), however the Solicitor-General denied the police permission to
proceed. After four weeks in jail everyone was released on bail. On
Tuesday, February 19th 2007, police raided further properties,
arresting 3 more men. All were released on bail with strict conditions
that same day.

19 people are facing charges under the Arms Act, in a trial that could
take several years. Although out of jail, they have very strict bail
conditions that deny them freedom of movement and association.
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