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Protestors slam big brother state

Protestors slam big brother state

By Natasha Burling

Protestors and a law professor have criticised the Government for a massive increase in surveillance of political activists over the past few years.

At a central Auckland protest on Saturday, which called for charges against Tuhoe tribe members to be dropped, veteran protestor John Minto said that the police had overreacted during the so-called terror raids last year.

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John Minto and Mike Treen from Global Peace and Justice

He said there has definitely been an increase in surveillance of political activists in the last six years.

“In fact in my lifetime this [the raids] would be the single biggest attack on civil liberties that I’ve ever seen.” he said.

He explained heightened surveillance jeopardises New Zealanders’ rights to dissent and warned Kiwis are in danger of losing these rights.

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“It’s really important that New Zealanders wake up to the fact that if we don’t defend our rights we will lose them,” he said.

Minto went on to say the police have had a massive injection of money over the past six years and that they were using this to profile protest groups, rather than terrorists.

Auckland City Police communications manager Noreen Hegarty said the New Zealand Police do not often spy on protest groups, but they sometimes receive tip-offs from members of the public who are concerned about planned illegal activities.

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She added that communication in New Zealand is quite open and there is a lot of information on blogs and websites.

“It is not difficult to find out what is going on,” she said.

Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey said she disagrees with the State using powers in the name of anti-terrorism against political dissidents.

“It’s a dangerous trend and if we allow this to go unopposed, we don’t know who’s next,” she said.

However, Hegarty said the Police need to get High Court permission to spy on someone electronically and good evidence is needed for this.

When asked if increased surveillance has been necessary since the 2001 terrorist attacks, Minto said New Zealand’s non-participation in the Iraq war means the country is not a terror target.

He said there are no terrorists in New Zealand, unlike Australia and Britain where terrorist activities have occurred.

Hegarty said the New Zealand Police would be irresponsible to not increase surveillance after the 2001 attacks.

“The world has changed considerably since 9/11. The New Zealand Police would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that,” she said.

She added police often detect terrorism before it happens. “A lot of stuff is going on that you would not be aware of.”



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