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Submission of the Socialist Workers Organisation on the Terrorism Suppression Bill to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee.
The Socialist Workers Organisation has fundamental objections to the Terrorism Suppression Bill and to the politics of inequality and war which are behind it.
The proposed law gives chilling new powers to the NZ prime minister to label someone a 'terrorist' on the basis of secret 'evidence' from local and foreign spies and the rulers of the world's big powers. Although such sources are notoriously biased defenders of capitalist inequality, their typically flawed 'evidence' will be deemed 'classified' and kept hidden from people who it convicts. (1)
This is particularly sinister news for recent immigrants and refugees, since many are already being targeted by spies, media and politicians as potential 'terrorists'.
Cabinet convention decrees that the prime minister is always the Minister in Charge of the SIS, New Zealand's secret police. This makes the prime minister open to 'capture' by NZ spies and their clandestine comrades in America and elsewhere. Giving the prime minister the power to label someone a 'terrorist' on the secret 'evidence' of the SIS and other spies will expand the political influence of the secret police. This is a real threat to parliamentary democracy.
Being labelled a 'terrorist' by the prime minister allows the seizure of a person's assets. (2) And such a 'terrorist' label will count heavily against anyone taken to court by the police on terrorism charges, which could spell up to 14 years in jail. (3)
In effect, a single NZ politician, in league with spies and cops and foreign states, is given dictatorial powers to criminalise others. This is a huge blow to our traditional right to public trial before a jury of peers where all evidence is open and contestable.
This takes New Zealand, along with America, Britain and other Western states adopting similar laws, in the direction of dictatorial Stalinist regimes. It makes a mockery of the claim that 'democracy' won the Cold War. Of course, this is not the analysis or language of the professional politicians, corporate bosses, spy chiefs, military brass and state bureaucrats who are behind the Terrorism Suppression Bill. They would claim there are 'democratic' protections built into the proposed law. But how seriously can we take the claims of these rulers of society who are always out to expand their power and wealth at the expense of the grassroots majority?
Let's settle the question by looking more closely at exactly what's in the bill.
The prime minister needs only 'reasonable grounds' to label someone a 'terrorist'. (4) But condemning someone on 'reasonable grounds' falls short of the traditional judicial yardstick of 'beyond reasonable doubt'. Over time, a lower level of proof for 'terrorism' will allow parliament and judges to water down the need in ordinary courts for guilt to be proved 'beyond reasonable doubt'. A shadow will loom over the judicial rights of everybody, not just someone facing the prospect of being labelled a 'terrorist' by the prime minister.
Under the bill, an appeal against the prime minister's 'guilty' verdict can be made to the Inspector-General of Intelligence & Security, who is always a High Court judge. The Inspector-General is supposed to act 'independently' of the prime minister.
However, the Inspector-General must keep 'evidence' from spies secret from the person labelled a 'terrorist' by the prime minister. So this notoriously unreliable and slanted 'evidence' still cannot be challenged by anyone it punishes. A further appeal can be made to the Court of Appeal, but only on a 'point of law', not to contest the 'evidence' on which someone is labelled a 'terrorist'. (5)
Very seldom do citizens get a chance to measure the worth of the secret 'evidence' of NZ spies and the review process of the Inspector-General. A rare opportunity happened several years ago when the SIS were caught breaking into the Christchurch home of Aziz Choudry, an anti-globalisation activist. Shortly after, the home of fellow activist David Small was searched by police following a 'bomb' scare.
Aziz and David complained to the Inspector-General, who found that 'no law has been broken' but refused to give any details. Subsequent court cases proved the Inspector-General wrong by finding that the law had been broken in relation to both complainants. (6)
If the Terrorism Suppression Bill had been in effect at the time of Aziz and David's court hearings, they couldn't have cross-examined the 'evidence' of the SIS and police because it would have been 'classified'. This secrecy decree would have undermined their case, possibly resulting in a wrong verdict.
Any punishment based on the secret, and therefore uncontestable, 'evidence' of spies and cops is unsafe. Yet this unsafe approach, which smacks of Stalinist police state methods, is enshrined in the bill. This takes NZ society in the wrong direction. We need more freedom of information, not less. We need more public control of spies and cops, not less. We need more democracy, not less.
The last two decades have seen two terrorist bombings in New Zealand which killed innocent people.
In 1984, a bomb planted inside Wellington's union centre killed caretaker Ernie Abbott. The killer was never identified. But there's no doubt that the political context of the bombing was a decade of union-bashing by Muldoon's National government.
In 1986, two bombs attached to the 'Rainbow Warrior' killed Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira. The police picked up two French spies, who were convicted but released early by Lange's Labour government after pressure from the French state. They were awarded service medals. Paris officials later admitted that their secret police had been ordered to sink the ship to stop it protesting against French nuclear tests in the South Pacific.
The SIS didn't stop either of these two terrorist atrocities. Nor did the SIS identify Ernie's killer. And it wasn't the SIS, but public information given to the police, which fingered the French terrorists. These failures cast a dismal light on the bill's proposal to allow the prime minister to label someone a 'terrorist' on secret 'evidence' supplied by the SIS and other spooks.
Both of these terrorist bombings could have been prevented by creating a change in the political climate. If Muldoon's anti-union campaign had been squashed by a workers' revolt in New Zealand, Ernie wouldn't have been murdered by some anti-union fanatic. If the nuclear arms race had been halted by a global anti-imperialist revolt, Fernando wouldn't have been murdered by French spies.
Social progress lies in mass actions by grassroots people to claw power away from governments who serve the interests of the rich and powerful. But the Terrorism Suppression Bill, by targeting those who pose a 'threat' to a 'lawful government', stands in the way of making the political changes necessary to eliminate terrorism.
RIGHT TO STRIKE
Another law which blocks mass actions is the Employment Relations Act, passed by Helen Clark's government in August 2000. According to the Council of Trade Unions, Labour's legislation is 'more restrictive on industrial action than the Employment Contracts Act', National's hated law. (7) The Employment Relations Act bans all strikes except over an expired contract or an urgent health risk. That outlaws all strikes over political, environmental, victimisation, race, gender, solidarity and war issues. Harsh penalties can be imposed for illegal strikes: three months' jail, $40,000 fine and seizure of a home and other assets. (8)
So it would be illegal for NZ workers to strike over the Terrorism Suppression Bill, or over its application once it becomes law, or over the involvement of NZ troops in America's war, or over the conduct of the 'war on terrorism'.
This suppression of workers' right to strike contravenes Convention 87 of the International Labour Organisation. The ILO Committee of Experts interpreted this convention as allowing strikes over 'major social and economic policy trends' and 'sympathy strikes', all of which are outlawed by the Employment Relations Act. (9)
The ILO is part of the United Nations architecture, and Helen Clark's government is claiming UN resolutions as the source of the Terrorism Suppression Bill.
So why does Helen Clark's government uphold the UN over the Terrorism Suppression Bill but contravene the UN over the Employment Relations Act? This political hypocrisy has a common thread: both pieces of legislation hold grassroots people back from mass actions. They both entrench the power of the capitalist state.
NZ workers should have the freedom to strike over all issues concerning them.
If the Security Council of the United Nations labels someone a 'terrorist', the NZ prime minister must treat this as 'sufficient evidence' of guilt under the bill. (10)
Why is this power given only to the Security Council of the UN, to the exclusion of its General Assembly? After all, the General Assembly includes every country in the UN, so its majority decisions must be more representative than a smaller body.
The Security Council, by contrast, has just five permament members: America, Britain, China, France and Russia. How can we regard them as opponents of terrorism? After all, it was France that sank the 'Rainbow Warrior', one of the two terrorist bombings in New Zealand over recent years.
Each permanent member of the Security Council has the constitutional right to veto any UN decision. This means the UN is dominated by the big powers on the Security Council, particularly America, the world's only superpower.
By sidelining the General Assembly, the Terrorism Suppression Bill sucks up to the Security Council's undemocratic stranglehold over the UN. This is no accident. The whole thrust of the bill is to support America's 'war on terrorism', not to promote global justice.
So the bill ignores the world's economic inequalities. Yet the obscene gap between rich and poor, which is being widened radically by corporate globalisation, is the breeding ground for political oppression and armed conflict. A United Nations agency recently highlighted these facts: (11)
- World inequalities rose steadily over the 130 years to 1950. Recent decades, however, have seen the gaps widen dramatically. In terms of income distribution, the distance between the richest and poorest country was about 3 to 1 in 1820, 11 to 1 in 1913, 35 to 1 in 1950, 44 to 1 in 1973 and 72 to 1 in 1992.
- In 1960 the 20% of the world's people in the richest countries had 30 times the income of the poorest 20%. By 1997 this inequality had widened to 74 to 1.
- The assets of the world's three richest billionaires amount to more than the combined gross national product of all least developed countries and their 600 million people.
- The assets of the 200 richest people are more than the combined income of 41% of the world's people. Taking just 1% of the wealth of these 200 could give access to basic education for everyone on the planet.
A Christian aid agency says that 19,000 children die unnecessarily every day in sub-Saharan Africa alone from preventable diseases, unclean water and empty bellies. They are innocent victims of the debt burden imposed by capitalist agencies like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. (12)
Factors like these fuel the desperate insanity of small group terrorism, like the atrocities on 11 September which killed 6,000 in New York and Washington.
Getting rid of capitalism's inequalities, oppressions and wars, which are the real causes of small group terrorism, will require the abolition of the system itself. It will require a shift to another system where the economy and the state are under the democratic control of the vast majority who today are economically dispossessed and politically marginalised.
Even in a parliamentary democracy like New Zealand, capitalism means the class rule of a tiny minority at the expense of the human rights of the vast majority. A ruling minority control the economy and the state.
That's why New Zealand's professional politicians, when they 'retire', slide easily onto corporate boards and state quangos. And it's why parliament has helped the 'free' market to fleece grassroots people in New Zealand through mechanisms like state asset sales, student fees and bans on most strikes. As the saying goes, the Golden Rule is that those with the gold make the rules.
THIRD WORLD TYRANNY
This tyranny is extreme on Third World continents where most of the planet's population live.
Over recent decades the US state has funded, armed and sponsored terroristic regimes in the Third World. Sometimes these bloody regimes were installed with the help of US state agencies, like the CIA, upon which the NZ prime minister will be relying for 'classified' information on 'terrorists'. A few examples (in alphabetical order): Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Congo, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey.
These US-sponsored regimes terrorised their own citizens and often went to war against liberation movements or other countries. Many of these regimes have since been toppled by grassroots fightbacks. The US state typically resisted these democratic revolts until it was clear the old tyrants couldn't carry on much longer.
At this very moment the US state is helping the Colombian regime's war against a peasant liberation movement and the Indonesian regime's war against national liberation movements in Aceh and West Papua. Despite recent rhetoric about a 'Palestinian homeland', designed to shore up Arab support for America's 'war on terrorism', the US state is still arming and funding Israel's war machine which is pounding the Palestinian liberation movement. America's rulers and their allies have used the tragedy of 11 September to pin a 'terrorist' label on liberation movements. This is an attempt to criminalise grassroots people who are fighting back against terrorist states which are in America's pocket.
Such legitimisation of state terrorism is helped by the Terrorism Suppression Bill's sole focus on small group terrorism.
The bill defines 'terrorism' as a threat 'to intimidate a population in any country' or pressure 'a lawful government or an international organisation' in the interests of 'an ideological, political or religious cause' with the intention of killing or maiming others, or posing a 'serious risk' to the 'health and safety' of a country's population, or destroying 'property of great value', or causing 'major environmental damage', or disrupting an 'infrastructure facility', or seriously damaging 'the national economy'. (13)
This definition obviously targets small group terrorism, not state terrorism. That's why the bill:
- Spotlights only on those promoting 'an ideological, political or religious cause'. Such motives would never be attached to any 'free market' state, however terroristic.
- Strongly defends 'lawful government'. Under international conventions, any government is 'lawful' if it exercises supreme political power in a country, no matter if it's a bloody dictatorship installed by military coup or imperialist intervention.
- Emphasises the protection of economic structures like 'property of great value', any 'infrastructure facility' and 'the national economy'. State terrorism is sustained by such economic structures, which are an obvious target of small group terrorism.
The Terrorism Suppression Bill also sanctifies information supplied by the UN Security Council and by 'a government of another country'. (14) Leaning on information from foreign governments and their spy networks reveals the bill's bias towards treating terrorism as the work of small groups, not states.
Yet state terrorism does vastly greater harm to grassroots people than small group terrorism. For instance, the 6,000 killed in America on 11 September are a fraction of the three million killed in America's war of conquest in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos during the 1960s and 70s. At its peak, over 500,000 US soldiers fought in Vietnam. (15)
Back then, Helen Clark protested against America's war on Vietnam, while today she and other Labour MPs are supplying NZ troops to America's 'war on terrorism'. Yet the same big business interests still dominate America's economy and state, and US foreign policy is as imperialist as ever.
What's changed is Helen and her political pals, who've moved rightwards to voice the interests of Kiwi capitalists who suck up to America's rulers. The US state contracted the 'Vietnam Syndrome' after its unjust war was defeated by the Vietnamese liberation struggle, mass protests in the West and the refusal of US soldiers to fight. This 'syndrome' didn't make the US state any less nasty, but it did make it much less confident about committing ground troops to lengthy wars.
The Gulf War in 1991 was trumpeted as 'the end of the Vietnam Syndrome' after US-led forces kicked Saddam Hussein's troops out of Kuwait. While the oil-rich region was again made safe for Western profiteers, it was not as total a US victory as their propaganda made out. US forces were halted on the border of Iraq out of fear that an invasion could bog them down in 'another Vietnam'.
Instead, an economic blockade of Iraq was imposed by America with the endorsement of the UN Security Council. Over the last decade these sanctions have killed 500,000 Iraqi children. (16)
America's economic warfare against the civilian population of Iraq has been backed by all New Zealand governments, which lent navy frigates to the blockade. Half a million Iraqi kids paid the price of the 'blood for oil' policy of the US state. This is state terrorism at its worst. It's going on right now with the help of Helen Clark's government. Its impact is far deadlier than the atrocities of 11 September. Yet it doesn't rate a mention in the Terrorism Suppression Bill.
Western leaders demonised Saddam Hussein as the 'new Hitler' to justify their war for oil. Yet Saddam was once the darling of the US state. His eight-year war against Iran was equipped, funded and backed by America. A blind eye was turned when Saddam used poison gas against dissidents inside his own country. It was only when the Iraqi dictator threatened Western oil interests that the US state suddenly labelled Saddam a 'terrorist'.
A similar pattern of propaganda and lies, power politics and military intervention marks the US state's relations with the Taleban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
America's CIA, in liason with Pakistan's spy agency, armed, trained and funded the Taleban and al-Qaeda when they were fighting against Russian occupation. This was part of America's pressure on its main imperialist rival during the Cold War. It had nothing to do with democracy and freedom. It had everything to do with collapsing the Soviet empire so US corporates could tighten their stranglehold on the global market and the US state could become the world's only superpower.
Now the Taleban and al-Qaeda are being used by the US state as an excuse for a 'war on terrorism' which goes far beyond bringing to justice those responsible for the 11 September atrocity.
WAR WITHOUT END
After the Taleban crumbled in the wake of massive US bombing, George W. Bush declared: 'The fight we have begun will not be quickly or easily finished. Our enemies hide and plot in many nations. They are devious and ruthless. We will fight for as long as it take' (17)
The US president warned that Iraq and North Korea would be 'held accountable' for developing 'weapons of mass destruction'. Bush demanded that Saddam Hussein allow international arms inspections or face the consequences. (18)
And a leading British paper reports that America and Britain plan to extend the 'war on terrorism' to Somalia, Sudan and Yemen as soon as the campaign in Afghanistan is over. (19)
It's clear that Afghanistan is just stage one of a US military offensive against 'rogue states' which refuse to become de facto colonies of America. As Bush puts it, 'many nations' will find themselves in a 'fight' with American forces.
The US state will manufacture suitable excuses to extend the war to other countries. One excuse will be any Iraqi refusal to admit weapons inspectors, who were unmasked as US spies last time around. Another excuse is the US claim of 'links' between Osama bin Laden and an Islamic group in Somalia, Al Itihaad, for which no evidence has been produced. (20)
As many critics have noted, this is a 'war without end'.
America's rulers are using the 'war on terrorism' to pressure the rest of the world in much the same way as the 'war on communism' was used in times past.
The objectives are to increase the power and wealth of America's rulers, prevent rival imperialisms like China and the European Union from overtaking them, wipe out 'rogue states' which want to be independent of US domination, crack down on grassroots revolts in the Third World and marginalise protesters in the First World.
These are the objectives of an imperialist superpower. These objectives have remained constant for decades. They have led the US state into dozens of wars of aggression over the last half century. Here are just some examples of US state violence against other countries since the Second World War: (21)
- Philippines 1948-54: the CIA directed a war against a liberation movement.
- Puerto Rico 1950: independence rebellion was crushed.
- Korea 1950-53: America and South Korea fought China and North Korea to 'contain the spread of communism'. US threatened to use nuclear weapons in 1950 and 1953. At least two million Korean civilians were killed or wounded.
- Iran 1953: the CIA overthrew the democratically elected government and installed the Shah as dictator.
- Guatemala 1954: the CIA directed an invasion by US troops after the government nationalised land occupied by a US corporation, United Fruit.
- Lebanon 1958: US troops landed.
- Vietnam 1960-75: two million Vietnamese were killed in America's longest war. The country was devastated, the population brutalised.
- Cuba 1961: the CIA directed an invasion by right-wing fanatics launched from America and equipped and funded by the US state. The US Air Force bombed the country. But the invasion lacked popular support and failed.
- Indonesia 1965: one million were killed in a CIA-assisted army coup. A dictator, general Suharto, was installed with full backing from the US state.
- Dominican Republic 1965-66: US marines were sent in during an election. The US Air Force bombed the country.
- Guatemala 1966-67: US troops intervened against a liberation movement.
- Cambodia 1969-75: the US Air Force carpet bombed the countryside. Up to two million were killed by carpet bombing and the starvation that followed.
- Laos 1971-73: the US military directed a South Vietnamese invasion and carpet bombed the countryside.
- Middle East 1973: a US nuclear threat was made during Israel's war against Arab neighbours.
- Chile 1973: a CIA-backed military coup overthrew the elected left-wing president, Salvadore Allende. Tens of thousands were tortured and killed. The dictatorial regime got full backing from the US state.
- Angola 1976-92: the CIA assisted South African-backed rebels.
- Libya 1981: two Libyan jets were shot down by the US Air Force.
- El Salvador 1981-92: US troops and air power aided right-wing death squads. 75,000 people were killed.
- Nicaragua 1981-90: the CIA directed right-wing Contra invasions. Many thousands were killed.
- Lebanon 1982-84: US troops helped to expel the Palestine Liberation Organisation from Beirut, and backed the fascist Phalange. The US Navy shelled the capital city.
- Honduras 1983-89: US troops helped to build bases for right-wing death squads.
- Grenada 1983-84: a US invasion toppled the government.
- Libya 1986: the US Air Force bombed the capital, Tripoli, in a failed bid to kill president Gaddaffi.
- Bolivia 1986: the US Army assisted government raids in the countryside.
- Iran 1987: Iranian passenger jets were shot down by the US military over the Persian Gulf.
- Panama 1989-90: a US military invasion ousted president Noriega, formerly a CIA stooge. Thousands of civilians were killed.
- Persian Gulf 1990-91: a US-led armada evicted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Saddam was a former American ally in the Middle East. 100,000 or more Iraqis were killed.
- Somalia 1992-94: a US-led United Nations military occupation generated fierce resistance. The invasion ended in fiasco.
- Ex-Yugoslavia 1995: the US Air Force bombed Serb positions and helped Croatia's racist president Tudjman to drive out Serbs.
- Sudan 1998: US missiles destroyed the Al Shifa pharmaceutical plant.
- Afghanistan 1998: US missiles were launched against al-Qaeda, which had formerly received American backing.
- Iraq 1998: four days of intensive US air strikes were launched. Daily air sorties continue to the present day.
- Serbia 1999: 78 days of US-led Nato air strikes pounded cities and towns. Many hundreds of civilians were killed. A backlash against America bolstered Serb dictator Milosevic, helping him to hang onto power until a grassroots revolt deposed him the following year.
This lengthy but partial list of acts of aggression exposes the US state as the world's most murderous terrorist.
This conclusion is supported by eyewitness reports of US atrocities against civilians in Afghanistan. One such report comes from British journalist Justin Huggler:
'The Americans killed more than 100 civilians in Khanabad in the last two weeks, relentlessly bombing heavily populated residential areas in the town, one of the last under Taleban control. In the suburb of Charikari, we found giant craters and piles of rubbish where houses used to be&qupt; [Northern Alliance general Mohammed] Daud claimed only 13 people were killed in Khanabad when one bomb went astray. That was patently untrue. The cluster bombs, innocuous-looking yellow tubes, littered the fields and roads around the town, and you had to look carefully before every step" There was no clue as to why the Americans decided to bomb residential areas of Khanabad Ä and to use cluster bombs, designed to kill and maim. A Taleban barracks was nearby, but the Americans did not hit that.' (22)
America's 'war on terrorism' is creating a world of high-tech barbarism. Helen Clark's government should not be supporting this unjust war.
But it's impossible to detach New Zealand from America's military campaign without also breaking the institutional links between the state machines of the two countries. The NZ armed forces regularly train with the US military. A NZ frigate is helping the US blockade of Iraq. And NZ firms manufacture military hardware for America.
Most sinister of all is the secret UKUSA treaty linking spies in America, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This operates the Echelon spy network which bugs global communications.
In 1987, when prime minister David Lange announced plans to build the Waihopai spy station, he billed it as giving New Zealand 'greater independence in intellegence matters'. But Lange had been misled by the spies. Even as prime minister, he wasn't told that Waihopai would be part of the US-dominated Echelon network. (23)
When the prime minister in 1987 was misled by the spies, why should the prime minister today be given the power to label someone a 'terrorist' on secret 'evidence' from these same spies?
The institutional ties between the spies and military of New Zealand and America contradict our nuclear-free law. America's nuclear arsenal depends on such collaboration from allies.
All links between the NZ state and the US war machine should be broken. Any such move would be met with extreme terroristic threats from the US state. It would be many times worse than the pressure applied by Washington in the 1980s over the nuclear-free law. The Lange government was buckling under to this US pressure until mass protests forced the nuclear-free law through parliament.
Under the Terrorism Suppression Bill, a 'terrorist act' can be a 'threat' against a 'lawful government' which causes 'serious risk to the health or safety of a population' or 'serious disruption to the national economy' in the interests of advancing an 'ideological' or 'political' cause.
This definition most aptly embraces the US state and the giant corporations which dominate the global market.
It would fit behaviour like America's pressure on the Lange government to allow US nuclear warships into NZ ports, which exposed NZ citizens to the risk of radiation leaks and Soviet missiles.
It would also fit behaviour like the 'flight of capital' from New Zealand to force the Lange government to devalue the Kiwi dollar, which destabilised the economy while enriching the kings of capital and advancing their 'more market' ideology.
Yet only an idiot could believe that Helen Clark's government, or any other capitalist cabinet, is going to indict the US state or the corporate bosses for terrorism.
There's no doubt that the Terrorism Suppression law will be applied politically. It will be used against only the enemies of US imperialism, not its friends. It is class legislation.
Left-wingers who support liberation movements in other countries could find themselves in hot water. The bill criminalises anyone who 'funds' a movement deemed to be 'terrorist', while 'it is not necessary for the prosecutor to prove that a terrorist act occurred'. Someone found guilty faces up to 14 years' jail. (24)
Liberation movements in countries like South Africa, East Timor, Philippines, West Papua and Bougainville had to use guns as well as words to resist terrorist states. Under the bill, this would make them liable for a 'terrorist' label, and their NZ supporters could be jailed.
All liberation movements using arms to resist state terrorists should be supported, not victimised.
The only MPs in parliament who voted against sending NZ troops to help America's 'war on terrorism' were the Greens. This is to their great credit. And Green MPs have taken part in anti-war protests.
Hope for the future lies in the global mobilisations against America's imperialist war. 300,000 were on the Italian peace march from Perugia to Assisi. (25) Huge numbers have demonstrated in cities like Berlin, Calcutta, New York, Athens, Washington and Stockholm.
100,000 marched in London on 18 November to the theme 'Not in my name'. In defiance of Labour prime minister Tony Blair, the US state's closest ally, Labour MP Paul Marsden told the crowd:
'We aren't going to stand by and watch the atrocities of 11 September be replaced by atrocities in Afghanistan. This great victory the West proclaim means that Afghanistan is left to the warlords' mercy, and the innocent continue to suffer. Our cause is just Ä it is freedom from hunger and war, and for a decent life for all. We see things as how they could be, and ask why not.' (26)
Who among New Zealand's Labour MPs would have the guts and the principles to defy Helen Clark and take a stand alongside this British Labour MP? To date, none have shown any sign of doing so.
Even most Alliance MPs are tamely following Jim Anderton who's following Helen Clark who's following George W. Bush who's following the wishes of corporate America.
Everyone expects MPs from National, Act and NZ First to be gung-ho warmongers sucking up to the world's most aggressive power. That's what free market fanatics do.
But when Labour MPs and most Alliance MPs jump into the nearest US tank and bump along the same warpath, this could well lead to a serious crisis for the reformist left in New Zealand.
One obvious sign of crisis is the public split inside the Alliance. Less obvious is rising discontent among traditional Labour voters, exampled by unions passing anti-war resolutions and wide support for Socialist Worker's anti-war stalls.
Labour and Alliance MPs have this choice: follow George W. Bush to imperialist war and free market madness, or join with the global protest movement for peace and justice. No-one can 'sit on the fence' in a war. Which side Labour and Alliance MPs choose will be reflected by their attitude to the Terrorism Suppression Bill. By helping the US state to wage 'war without end', this bill is aiding the world's bloodiest state terrorist.
To really become a weapon against terrorism, the bill must be turned against America and other imperialist powers which are the source of war, poverty and injustice.
- We should retain our tradition of public trial in front of a jury of peers where all evidence is open and contestable. So giving the prime minister the power to label someone a 'terrorist' on the basis of secret 'evidence' from spies and foreign states should be dropped from the Terrorism Suppression Bill.
- A claim that someone is a 'terrorist' should be proved beyond reasonable doubt, not the lower standard of 'reasonable grounds' stated in the bill.
- A claim by the UN Security Council that someone is a 'terrorist' should not be accepted as sufficient evidence in NZ. Every such claim should be tested in court with all evidence out in the open. The bill should note that the Security Council, dominated by the world's biggest state terrorists, is the last place to look for the truth about terrorism.
- The bill should expose the rapidly expanding gap between rich and poor, resulting from corporate globalisation, as the breeding ground of political oppression and armed conflict. It should target capitalism's inequalities, oppressions and wars as the breeding ground for small group terrorism.
- The bill should point to state terrorism as being far more dangerous than small group terrorism. And it should spotlight the US state as the world's most murderous terrorist.
- The bill should cut all institutional ties between the NZ state and the US war machine. This is the single most important move that New Zealand could take against international terrorism. It would also be in keeping with the spirit of New Zealand's nuclear-free law.
- The bill should support all liberation movements using arms to resist state terrorists.
- The bill should give NZ workers the freedom to strike. This would allow workers the legal right to strike over issues like America's 'war on terrorism'. It would be a recognition that mass actions, which give direct expression to grassroots democracy, are the source of social progress.
- If the Terrorism Suppression Bill is enacted into law in anything like its present form, at least parliament should give it an honest title: the State Terrorism Sponsorship Act.
(1) Clauses 17A, 17B, 17C, 17D, 17E, 17L, 17O, 17R, 17T, 17U and 17X of the Terrorism Suppression Bill. (2) Clauses 17V and 17Y of the bill. (3) Clauses 9, 10D and 10E of the bill. (4) Clause 17C(1) of the bill. (5) Clauses 17N, 17O, 17P, 17R, 17S, 17T and 17U of the bill. (6) 'A Critique of the Terrorism Suppression Bill' by David Small (14 November 2001). (7) Council of Trade Unions leaflet, quoted by a Socialist Worker pamphlet (January 2001). (8) Clauses 83, 84, 86 and 140 of the Employment Relations Act. (9) 'Workers' Freedom to Strike: A Submission to the Select Committee on the Employment Relations Bill from the Socialist Workers Organisation', published as a Socialist Worker pamphlet (May 2000). (10) Clause 17K of the bill. (11) 'UN Human Development Report 1999' by UN Development Programme (Oxford University Press, 1999). (12) 'Still Waiting: Time for a New Deal on Third World Debt' by Christian Aid UK (July 2000). (13) Clause 5(2) and (3) of the bill. (14) Clauses 17K and 17L of the bill. (15) 'The American War in Vietnam 1960-75' by Jonathan Neale (Bookmarks, 2001). (16) British 'Socialist Worker' (20 October 2001). (17) 'NZ Herald' (26 November 2001). (18) 'NZ Herald' (28 November 2001). (19) 'Sunday Times' in London, quoted by 'NZ Herald' (26 November 2001). (20) British 'Socialist Worker' (24 November 2001). (21) Z-Net email magazine, reprinted in British 'Socialist Worker' (17 November 2001). (22) Justin Huggler in the British 'Independent', reprinted in 'NZ Herald' (28 November 2001). (23) 'Secret Power: New Zealand's Role in the International Spy Network' by Nicky Hager (Craig Potton Publishing, 1996). (24) Clause 9 of the bill. (25) 'Anti-War Notes #4' published by International Socialist Tendency (8 November 2001). (26) British 'Socialist Worker' (24 November 2001).