Home > Social Issues, The Body Politic > Sentencing the ‘Urewera four’ – an affront to our sense of justice? (Part Rua)

Sentencing the ‘Urewera four’ – an affront to our sense of justice? (Part Rua)

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Political prisoners in New Zealand?

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Continued from Sentencing the ‘Urewera four’ – an affront to our sense of justice?

A protest held outside Wellington’s High Court today (25 May) highlighted the extreme sentences handed down to  Tame Iti and  Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, and statements made by the presiding judge, ‘Justice’ Hansen, which many found offensive and unjust.

The protestors began assembling at mid-day, along with media crews,

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking  25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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With the outrageously extreme prison sentences meted out to Tame Iti and  Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, the statement below is no longer just rhetoric.  How can there be justice when armed, masked men, with the full authority of the State, terrorise a small village in our own country, under the guise of  “suppressing terrorism”?

The only terrorism that occurred on 15  October  2007, was households raided, and women and children frightened to death  by Darth Vader’s stormtroopers.

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking  25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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The more repressive the State becomes, the more that motivation will be strengthened in people fighting for Tino Rangatiratanga,

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking  25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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And as more and more pakeha join Maori in a growing movement for sovereignty, it will become an irresistable movement,

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking  25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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The protest was addressed by one of the organisors, who said,

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking  25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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Kia ora tatou, thanks for coming down today, to our very quickly, impromptu demonstration. There are a lot of different  reasons people could be protesting today. the reason I’m here is to stand in solidarity with emily and urs who got sentenced to nine months home detention and stand in solidarity with tame and rangi who were sentenced to two and a half years . we’re here to stand in solidarity with all the people who’ve been  affected over the last four and half years, by this case. And I’d like to pay respects to Tuhoi Lambert and his whanau. Obviously  Tuhoi passed on before the charges could be put before him. So it’s really important for us to remember him on this day.

I’d also like to remind everybody of the symbolic significance of this day. Today is 34 years ago, on the 25th of May 1978, police went in to Bastion Point and cleared the occupation on the 507th day.

These charges; this court case; and these sentences,  are just another example of  history of the Crown subjugating Maori, subjugating those who stand up and fight up.

So we’re here to stand up and fight back to.

Some of  us have been on the picket line since 2007, October 15, over at the District Court , and we’re going to keep fighting these charges. And we’re making the same demands we were making on the 15th of  October 2007; drop the charges!

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking  25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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The speaker continued,

It’s been noted since the years since the raids of October 15th, 2007, there are questions  about the degree of  political involvement in the operation, particularly in the political attempts by the then Labour-government to interfere with the subsequent judical process. There are questions that need to be answered about the racism of the operation. There are questions that need to be asked about the shocking  abuse and mistreatment of innocent people during operation.

For example, in the Maori community of Ruatoki, that was the only community that was locked down and blockaded in the course of the operation. It was only there that innocent people stopped, searched, and harrassed, going about their daily lives. When houses were raided  in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and elsewhere, the surrounding suburbs were not locked down and no innocent pakehas were stopped going about their daily lives.

Many of the actions in and around Ruatoki were taken outside of public scrutiny, and thus were more traumatising for people concerned, especially when they involved physical mishandling and detention. The Chief Justice, Sian Elias found that the police had collected their evidence illegally and allowed the Crown  to pursue charges against the urewera 4 only because of the criminal gang charge. The jury was hung on that charge and so the fight continues for the charges to be dropped.”

Meanwhile,  media recorded the protest,

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking  25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking  25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking  25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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Talking with some of the activists,

What your first thoughts when you heard about the sentencing of Tame and the other?”

”  I thought it was outrageous , I mean considering the fact they were not found guilty of anything relating to the terrorism charges, or anything relating to the actual forming of a private militia as the judge said. I think it was a personal, political agenda that was being pushed. It was just the pound of flesh that the government wanted. “

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking  25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking   25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking   25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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” Can I just ask you, what’d you think when you heard about the sentencing? “

” What do I think? I think it’s  political. I think it’s political that Tame and Rangi particularly are being punished for asserting Te Mana Motuhake for Tuhoi. I think the arms charges are pretty minor, they weren’t able to get them on terrorism charges or on organised crime charges, so they’ve just escalated the sentences for some actually quite minor ones, and that’s political in nature. “

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking   25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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As the protestors stood in dignity, passing cars and trucks were tooting their horns in support. Public support was surprisingly  very much in evidence.

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking   25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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Some beautifully-drawn footpath-art, drawn by one of the protestors,

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking   25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking   25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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And with another of the activists,

” What did you think when you heard the sentencing? “

” Oh, absolute disgrace. An injustice. Racist and politically motivated. “

” What do you think the government should be doing about this? “

” Dropping the charges. And an apology also for the people of Tuhoi, because it’s not just Tame Iti and the four that’ve have been sentenced unjustly, it’s their whanau and the people of Tuhoi that they’re ignoring.”

” So you think that the sentencing was of a racist nature? “

” I do. And politically motivated. And the sentencing judge was a single person, and I think he over-rode the findings of the jury and was driven by his own perspective on things.”

” He seemed to be making comments that weren’t even really related to the charges that they were found  guilty of. “

“That’s right. It was excessive, and it should  be thrown out. It’s going to waste more money. It was just a continuation of State oppression and excessive, State bullying and the the injustice of the whole situation. So, yes,  when I found out I was absolutely gutted and mortified. “

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking   25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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What was your first thought when you heard about Tame and the others being sentenced? “

” I was really shocked, I wasn’t expecting that. I guess I should have been, it was naive of me… I think that everyone in Ruatoki should get an apology and monetary compensation. I think Tame and Urs and all should be aquitted.  “

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking   25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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What was your first imediate reaction when you heard about the prison sentences?”

That they’re perpetuating the hurt… I think that the charges were bought using illegal evidence and I they shouldn’t be sentenced on the basis of illegal evidence. How can the government, the crown expect us to operate legally when they’re operating illegally?

They have no right to do that, they should be setting the standard, not lowering it.”

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking   25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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Police officer moving protestors of the street, and back onto the footpath. Supposedly for “safety” reasons, the same policeman moved this blogger off the street, and back onto the footpath as well. His reasoning was that we were causing a potential traffic hazard.

The police could just as easily used their police vehicle (partially visible between policeman and protestor with loud-hailer) to block part of  the two-lane street. Traffic was low-to-moderate, as it was not yet rush-hour traffice.

However, he was courteous and readily explained the reasoning behind his actions.

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking   25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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Thinking out loud, and thoughts many will share,

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Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking   25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

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Continued: Sentencing the ‘Urewera four’ – an affront to our sense of justice? (Part Toru)

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Contact

Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking  Frank Macskasy  Blog  Frankly Speaking   25 May Urewera 4 Protest Wellington High Court

Mainstream Media

Ureweras case ‘destroyed relationships’

Former solicitor-general ‘changed raids advice’

‘Urewera Four’ pair jailed

Protest against jailing of Urewera pair

Tame Iti to appeal jail sentence

‘Urewera four’ members join Budget protests

Blogs

Aotearoa Independent Media Centre: Free Taame and Rangi – protests today and tomorrow across the country

Beyond Resistance:  Free the Urewera 4: CHCH solidarity picket this Saturday

Capitalism Bad Tree Pretty:  What can they do to you? Whatever they want

Kiwipolitico:  The Crown Gets Its Pound of Flesh

Workers Party:  Urewera four – fight the imprisonments of Iti and Kemara

Tumeke:   Urewera 4 sentencing underway [Updates] BREAKING: 2.5 Years prison :(

Tumeke:   Will Police Commissioner Peter Marshall still be so self-righteous after IPCA report into Urewera farce?

Mars 2 earth:  lighting a fuse

Redline:  Free the Urewera Four

Tangatawhenua.com:  Letter to the Editor – Hypocrisy at best?

Tangatawhenua.com:  May 24, 2012 Where is the Justice in all this?

Tangatawhenua.com:  Waiariki MP gutted at Urewera sentences

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  1. 26 May 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I do agree that anti-terrorism charges against those arrested were ridiculous so when the Attorney-General ordered the police to drop those charges he did the right thing. However, the Urewera Four were violating firearms laws and they were found guilty on those charges by a jury. That’s not racism or political oppression. It’s called the justice system doing it’s job. This bullshit mentality among many white liberals that Maori can do no wrong and are always victims of racism and repression every time they get caught out being racist or breaking the law is getting tiresome.

    There are many serious issues to be raised about the Urewera raid including (1) Why were the media were accompanying the police? (2) Why did the police provided recorded transcripts to the Dominion Post knowing these transcripts could be used in a court of law (which is meant to be illegal)? (3) Is the closeness of the police and the media leading to what amounts to denying a person the right to a fair trial? (4) Why did the police use anti-terrorism laws to arrest them?

    What this trial raises are questions that need to be answered by a Leverson-style inquiry but these activists are so caught up in their “poor, persecuted Maori” bullshit that’s aimed at turning these people into victims of political persecution that they’re ignoring much more serious issues that this case raises.

  2. Theodore
    27 May 2012 at 11:17 am

    @ Milesmadrant “However, the Urewera Four were violating firearms laws and they were found guilty on those charges by a jury. That’s not racism or political oppression. It’s called the justice system doing it’s job. This bullshit mentality among many white liberals that Maori can do no wrong and are always victims of racism and repression every time they get caught out being racist or breaking the law is getting tiresome. ”

    Youy mightn’t feel so tiresome if it happened to you. Of course the heavy sentencing was racist. There are plenty of other court cases where people charged under firearms laws were sentenced to community service, fines, or much light sentences. Don’t forget that all this was happening out in the backblocks, in the Urewera mountains, not in downtown Auckland.

    Don’t forget that all of Rutoki was locked down and roads barricaded by ninja cops with bloody big guns. I didn’t see strreets in Wellington or Auckland locked down , did you? i didn’t see doors in Aro Valley or Parnell bashed down by cops with battering rams, did you? I didn’t see school buses in polite pakeha communities terrorised and their school buses boarded by ninja cops, did you?

    Of course not. Pakeha society wouldn’t put up with that kind of state power in their communities. Racist, yeah, it was racist Milesmadrant and just because you didn’t get to experience it yourself doesn’t make it any less.

  1. 26 May 2012 at 1:34 pm
  2. 26 May 2012 at 4:43 pm

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