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Owhango election signs torched

8 October 2008 MEDIA RELEASE

Owhango election signs torched

Labour candidate for Rangitikei, Jills Angus Burney is shocked at the torching of her hoardings at Owhango.

“I arrived early this morning to find both signs deliberately destroyed. We erected them ten days ago at local activist, Margie Jarman’s Blueberry Farm, opposite State Highway 47.”

Ms Angus Burney says that as a veteran of the struggle in South Africa for democracy Margie Jarman, who has been teaching in New Zealand for 20 years, is deeply saddened.

“This is an incredibly violent act that goes way beyond tagging signs. Coming from lifelong backgrounds in defending democracy, universal participation and free speech we both feel violated.

Living in a rural community is about trust. Most people are gracious enough to respect political differences. But to Margie, having lived through the terrible days of state violence against full democracy in South Africa, the discovery this morning is deeply personal.”

“Torching hoardings with an accelerant on private property goes against all the hollow rhetoric that our opponents espouse about valuing individual freedom and respect for private property. It is the single most anti-democratic action I can imagine. Doing so next to a paddock of horses and substantive bird netting is blatantly thoughtless. At 1am in the morning on a wet night shows the perpetrators as gutless.”

Ms Angus Burney says the hoardings schedule was planned earlier in the year when her campaign drew together activists all the way from Taumarunui to Tangimoana.

“With the new Rangitikei electorate boundaries taking in the Ruapehu, a strong party vote Labour area and having had a significant government minister in Taupo MP Mark Burton, we planned our campaign visibility. We don’t accept that one can’t be open and safe to express political views in rural areas.”

The Owhango fire brigade was called out at 1.30am to a report from a passing truck driver who saw the flames from the hoardings. By the time they arrived the corflute hoardings had melted, with minor damage to the nearby trees.

A Police complaint has been made.


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