Montreal, Occupied Kanien'keha:Ka Territory
Montreal, Occupied Kanien'keha:Ka Territory. Monday 22 October 2007
Around 25 people gathered outside the UN Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 413, Saint Jacques Street, Montreal on Monday lunchtime to denounce the current wave of state terror by the New Zealand Government against Maori sovereignty, peace and environmental justice activists. Expressing solidarity with Tuhoe communities and others targeted in a recent "anti-terror" operation, they also drew attention to, and opposed New Zealand's recently-announced bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council from 2009-2012. The protest action was organized by the Maori Solidarity Committee, Montreal.
Last week in Aotearoa /New Zealand, Maori sovereignty campaigners, environmental, peace and social justice activists, were targeted in military-style raids under the post-9/11 Terrorism Suppression Act, and are being painted in the media as terrorists. Police raided homes, confiscated possessions and imprisoned at least seventeen activists in a military-style operation, many of whom are Maori. Amongst those arrested was prominent Maori activist and community worker Tame Iti, who has been denied bail along with eleven others, and whose appeal for bail is being heard today, New Zealand time.
The Montreal action attracted academics, local Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists as well as a Maori visiting scholar at McGill University, and New Zealand activist/academic Aziz Choudry, who held a large tino rangatiratanga (Maori sovereignty) flag outside the UN CBD Secretariat street entrance. The protest added its voice to a growing number of actions across Aotearoa/New Zealand, in the USA, Australia, Germany, Greece, and South Africa.
Participants at the Montreal action not only denounced New Zealand's targeting of Indigenous sovereignty campaigners , but drew links to the anti-Indigenous Peoples actions of the New Zealand, US, Canadian and Australian governments in being the only 4 governments to vote against the UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples last month. They also highlighted the parallels between Canadian and New Zealand Government state ideology and practice which constructs has long viewed Indigenous Peoples who are asserting their rights to self-determination as criminals and subversives. They warned that this is consistent with today's international trend of labeling legitimate political dissent "terrorist".
New Zealand state repression echoes events here in Canada. So-called anti-terror laws and security forces are being used to label dissent especially the dissent of Indigenous peoples as criminal and terrorist. This summer, Tyendinaga Mohawk activist Shawn Brant was arrested after blockades of rail lines and highways on Tyendinaga land. A leader in his communitys struggle, he has been portrayed as a criminal and terrorist. Like Tame Iti, Shawn was jailed in July 2007, and was denied bail until the end of August. In Canada, this summer's police crackdown after the June 29th Aboriginal days of action are proof that colonialism is alive and well in Canada in the 21st century.
Protestors vowed to do whatever they can to expose and oppose the New Zealand government's actions and to encourage opposition to their UN Human Rights Council bid. A delegation also met with representatives of the UN Convention on Biodiversity Secretariat and outlined their reasons for staging the action outside their offices.