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Letter from John Minto to Chris Trotter

Open Letter from John Minto to Chris Trotter


Kia ora Chris,

I don't usually write to people like this because there are usually more productive things to do. However I'll make an exception in this case.

I didn't see your earlier pieces on the so-called "terror roundup" but saw your Dominion piece on Friday and SST column last weekend. I thought both were shallow and sometimes pompous but more importantly they were a weak commentary on kiwi activism and potentially damaging in relation to the accused.

Two weeks ago the police and SIS launched probably the most savage assault on the progressive movement in my lifetime. Your immediate instinct was to duck for cover and cut adrift a group of activists you can only surmise about. You preferred the long shadow cast by the state's forces than, for example, engaging in battle to prevent the anti-terror laws being used for the first time. In fact I'm not sure you've even mentioned the anti-terror laws. Have you caught up with them yet and what they mean for civil rights in New Zealand?

Dozens of young activists have been visited over the past two weeks by police with thick folders containing transcripts of every phone call, every text and every email they have sent in the past year. Is this not worth a mention?

You then went further and gave active support to what you describe as the police thesis of an alliance between "Maori separatists and eco-anarchists". Unlike other commentators you weren't prepared to wait and see what evidence the police produce. Instead you've been busy doing your best to bolster the state's case in the public mind.

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I had the experience of sitting through a bail hearing for Rongomai Bailey last week. Despite being arrested on arms charges including being in possession of a Molotov cocktail the police agreed they were unable to produce any evidence he had ever even touched a weapon. They did produce surveillance transcripts of two bugged car journeys (which incidentally are inadmissible on the arms charges). The evidence itself is suppressed but suffice to say there was nothing in even the "juiciest" bits read to court in relation to Rongomai that would not be heard at any gun club in New Zealand on a Saturday afternoon.

I'm sure the police will come up with a few headlines (Jamie Lockett "declaring war on New Zealand" was one) as time passes but I doubt any kind of credible terrorist threat will emerge despite it already being a reality in what seems to be your somewhat fevered imagination.

As it stands you have aligned yourself with our state forces against good New Zealanders.

It's not the first time you've ducked. When the US/UK launched the attack on Iraq in 2003 you sided with Tony Blair against the rest of mankind. Why is it with the big issues you seem to lose the plot? Will you side with the US/Israel when they launch their long awaited attack on Iran?

People who know you better than me tell me the problem is you are not connected in any meaningful way to any groups active in any particular issues so that your commentary is often theoretical and disconnected from daily struggle. I don't know if this is true but it seems the only explanation that makes any sense to me.

Don't feel you have to respond Chris. I've said enough and am unlikely to have the time to respond again anyway. There's plenty of real work to do.

ENDS

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