A Scoop Exclusive - Inside APEC Series - Part two:
by Selwyn Manning
Continued from http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL9908/S00111.htm As the third reading of the SIS Amendment Bill No. 2 is put before the New Zealand Parliament, a Canadian Anti-APEC campaigner warns of spy infiltration of New Zealand groups. Those particularly targeted are organisations and individuals openly critical of the coming Auckland APEC leader's summit.
At the time, Oppenheim and his associates knew little of what cloak and dagger operatives were taking place around them: “We didn’t have a clue at the time that we were being monitored. They never did openly come to our meetings. They never made direct contact or talked to us. There was never any overt presence. But since we have waded through their paper trail, notes after notes after notes on anything from a talk to a discussion to a rally was recorded.
“They would take pictures, they had profiles of all of us, they even checked to see if we were on welfare. They then used the photographs to identify us. A number of us were arrested.”
TAG mounted a pre-emptive strike on APEC Alert members. Jaggi Singh another leader was arrested prior to any protest action taking place.
The pre-arrest of Jaggi Singh surprised the groups and the Canadian public at how determined the authorities were to prevent those critical of APEC for having their say.
Singh told Scoop this week: “You can be sure that all anti-APEC groups [in New Zealand] are being monitored in some way, as well as various ‘radical’ Maori groups. The documents I have seen from APEC Vancouver show that even mainstream groups are the subject of monitoring. For example, here the British Colombia Federation of Labour, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Canadian Federation of Students were all targeted.”
Oppenheim says members were arrested on warrants they knew nothing about and later found out the warrants did not exist: “I’m sure the same is about to happen in Auckland, if not worse,” he says. “Worse because of the clamp down on megaphone use, the breaking into people’s homes, it is all the same as what we witnessed.”
Here in New Zealand, seasoned campaigners also expect the spies are watching.
Scoop met this week with APEC Monitoring Group spokesperson Aziz Choudry. He confirms that like in Canada, police have been taking photographs and videoing while anti-APEC campaigners protest. They are building up a identikit file on all those who believe APEC is wrong, he says.
Choudry says the invasion of privacy experienced by Canadian APEC critics is a clear indication of what is happening here and of what the security agencies of other countries expect of New Zealand authorities.
Oppenheim says official Canadian documents obtained after APEC show the intelligence gathering didn’t stop once the APEC leader’s returned home: “The police continued to gather information on protesters, it became quite obvious that they regard activists with a huge amount of suspicion. Any decent is regarded quite antagonistically. Certainly they saw a terrorist in every corner.”
New Zealand anti-APEC groups, Oppenheim says, should not get too paranoid about infiltration: “We had nothing to hide. We were peaceful but the police and TAG still felt they had to infiltrate us. It was a huge invasion of privacy. And it is important to expose the paranoia and infiltration. I think it is pretty serious how anyone who showed any view contrary to pro-APEC was and is regarded as an enemy of the state.”
His advice to New Zealanders is: stick to your views, let your views be known, disregard any infiltration of your organisations: “It is important just to be open. In our [the Canadians] case it was the Government that had things to hide. The documents which have become known through the courts and official investigations have shown that to be the case.”
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* Scoop’s Inside APEC Series: - Stories To Come: An Exclusive Interview With Aziz Choudry - An Interview with Canada’s Jaggi Singh - the Police’s Response - APEC Releases - and much much more.
Other Scoop APEC Stories:
Police Radio Telephone Woes http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK9908/S00129.htm
Crack Down on Sex Workers http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK9908/S00117.htm
APEC Traffic http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK9908/S00112.htm
Albright To Attend APEC Summit http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK9908/S00077.htm