Sunday, April 11, 2010

Police run operations on political activists

A recent document released under the Official Information Act (OIA) shows that the Police are heavily spying on and running operations on protest groups. In the Police annual report for the year ending 30th June 2009, a reference was made to “84 operation orders” made in relation to “public demonstrations”. An OIA request for a list of all these operation orders made in October 2009 has now finally been answered by Police National Headquarters and the results are chilling.

In 2008/9, the police ran operations on a “Tibet candlelight vigil”, the “Stagecoach Bus Strike” and a “Palestine Peace Vigil” in Wellington, a “Bible group” outside the US embassy, the “Waterside Workers' Strike” in Auckland and a protest in Otahuhu “re lack of swimming pool”.

A list of the 84 operation orders has been released. However, access to the actual orders has so far been denied.
Peace Action Wellington condemns the action of the NZ Police in conducting operations on protests against the annual weapons conference hosted by the NZ Defence Industry Association and against legitimate political dissent. ‘Protecting these people is protecting war mongers and war profiteers from public disgust, outrage and resistance to their activities’ said Valerie Morse, Peace Action member. ‘In my experience, the police see their role as shutting down protests, and they will do whatever is necessary in order to accomplish that, including extensive surveillance, arbitrary arrest and detention of people without any cause whatsoever.'
Links: Police Thugs at it here and there (Wellington ABC)
Which protests were monitored What follows is a list of the operations divided up into 'issues':
Workers and Trade Unions
The police in Wellington and Auckland ran several operations during industrial disputes. These include operations in Auckland during the Watersiders' strike in late 2008 and John Key's 'Job Summit'. In Wellington, operations were run during the lock-out of bus drivers in Wellington in 2008, as well as an operation on the Rail Maritime and Transport Union in June 2009. A “Health Services Vigil” and a “Pay and Equity Rally” were also monitored.
An Auckland student protest in July 2008, “Operation Massey” in Palmerston North around “student occupation of [the] university registry” and a protest at Victoria University in May 2009 all came with police operations.
Solidarity protests
Several protests outside embassies in Wellington were observed closely by the police. The following four had operation orders: two protests outside the Australian High Commission (December 2008 and June 2009 to do with activists on trial in Melbourne in relation to the G20 summit), a protest outside the Greek Embassy in December 2008 after the killing of a teenager in Athens and a protest outside the Peruvian Embassy in June 2009.
State Terror Raids protests
Two operations were run on protests relating to the state terror raids of 15th October 2007. Firstly, a protest march in Auckland a few days before the deposition hearing started in late August and according to the Wellington police a “Global Day of Action” on 15th October 2008.
Falun Gong
Three operations relate to Falun Gong activities. One “rally” was held in Auckland and two protests in Wellington (one also mentions Amnesty International).
Free Tibet
The police ran operations on “candlelight vigils” organised by Free Tibet groups. One Free Tibet protest in Auckland was monitored and a vigil and a protest were enough to require police operations.
Five operations were in relation to protests about the conflict in Israel and Palestine (all in the Wellington district). In January 2009, during the Israeli invasion of Gaza, the police watched an “Anti-Hamas Protest” as well as a “Palestine Peace Vigil”, a “Gaza Meeting and March” and an event titled “Christians for Justice in Palestine”.
Anti-war protests
Several other operations relate to anti-war activities: a “Rakon Industries protest” during the Gaza invasion in January 2009, a “Waihopi” (sic) protest in Wellington in September 2009 (which is after the annual report was released but might be a mistake and should be 2008 while the deposition hearing of the Ploughshare domebusters was on), the annual NZDIA weapons conference in Wellington and a “Bible Group US embassy” which relates to a group of Christian peace activists.
Several operations were run on protests relating to the conflict in Sri Lanka between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers. It confirms suspicions that the Tamil community in New Zealand is under heavy surveillance. Operations were run on an “[a]nti Tamil Tiger protest by Sri Lankan Singhagalese” (sic) in Counties Manukau, and a “Tamil Society Vigil”, a “Tamil Tiger Protest” and a “Sri Lankan Protest” in Wellington.
Other protests
Other operations were run on a “McDonalds Protest”, the “National Front rally”, “J Day Rally”, the Residents Action Movement “Peoples' Procession March” around their GST campaign, all in Wellington; the massive hikoi in Auckland against the super-city, as well as a “Truck Protest” and an “Iranian Protest”; an operation was run on a protest in Otahuhu “re lack of swimming pool”; and the only known protest with an operation in the South Island was “Op Erma” in Canterbury to do with “genetic modification of foods” in August 2008.
Howard Broad – a serial misinformerIt is not news that the New Zealand police investigates political activists involved in various movements ranging from trade unions to environmental groups, indigenous and anti-war activists. Over the last few years, the outing of police informant Rob Gilchrist and the state terror raids of 15th October 2007 have clearly demonstrated that various police 'intelligence' units, including the ones who are tasked to find terrorists - of which there obviously aren't any - investigate, surveil and bug political activists.

When Gilchrist's informant work of 10 years was discovered, Police Commissioner Howard Broad said that “[w]e're not interested in the to-ings and fro-ings of protest groups who may be wanting to stand outside a building and put placards up, or do all the sorts of things that you would associate with lawful protest in a free and democratic society.” (15th December 2008) The list shows that this is a complete lie as most of the operations are targeting people holding placards outside buildings.
The Search and Surveillance Bill – increasing police powers The Search and Surveillance Bill is currently before parliament. If passed into law, it will dramatically expand the police powers of surveillance and search for extremely minor crimes such as trespass. It would also abolish two fundamental concepts of western law: the right to silence and the right not to incriminate oneself (the right not to participate in one's own prosecution).

Public submissions on the bill were heard in October 2009. Out of the 42 submissions only one was unreservedly supportive of the bill. Those speaking against the bill include the Privacy Commissioner, the Human Rights Commission, NZ's Chief Justice, Lawyers, Unions and advocacy groups.
The remaining operations Of the 84 operations, 82 are accounted for. Two, both in the Canterbury region, are not known because “the district that conducted the operations cannot locate [the] detail.”
55 operations took place in the Wellington region, nine in Counties Manukau, eight in Auckland City, four in the Central district, three in Canterbury, two each in the Eastern and Waikato districts and one in the Waimate district. Clearly, the Wellington district is over-proportionally represented, partially due to VIP visits which often take place in the capital.
Of the 84 operations, the vast majority are to do with protest activities. The ones that aren't, or are only partially, include 17 VIP visits in Wellington (which includes visits by the Prime Minister of France, the Australian Prime Minister, the Israeli Ambassador, and also two unnamed Prime Ministers), an international basketball event in the Waitemate district, the Trentham races, a visit by the Governor-General to the Central district and “Operation Ratana”, presumably for the visit of Members of Parliament to Ratana Pa in February 2009.
What is an operation order?
None of the operation orders have been released. However, from court cases over the years, activists have acquainted themselves with operation orders. A police operation order usually sets out how to manage a major operation. The commander of the operation appoints people to do the various jobs: 'intelligence', team policing, liaison with protest target etc. Then they write up the plan and this operation order is the plan they work from during the operation.
It also contains a list of job descriptions and the command structure and plans for the operation eg, intelligence officer, whose job it is to liase with police intelligence groups and pass this on to the rest of the operation; team policing units, whose job is to thump people; liaise with the target of the protest; liaise with the protesters (this comes under intelligence); lists of radio frequencies to be used; transport; maps etc.
In other words, these are major operations involving the use of significant amounts of police resources. In some cases, the police outnumber the protesters.
List of operations 2008/9 Waitemata
  • “Operation FIBA U19 WBC” (1/07/2009) – “Third largest international basketball event.”
Auckland City
  • “Truck Protest” (03/07/2008)
  • “Student Protest” (01/07/2008)
  • “Anti Terror Raids Protest” (26/08/2008)
  • “Skinny Santa Protest” (14/11/2008)
  • “Waterside Workers' Strike” (1/12/2008)
  • “Falun Gong Rally” (25/02/2009)
  • “Free Tibet Protest” (06/03/2009)
  • “Iranian Protest” (24/06/2009)
Counties Manukau
  • “Asian Community protest” (2/7/2008) – “Highlighting violence in the community”
  • “Assyrian Neneveh on violence” (1/11/2008) – “Condemming killing Christians in Iraq”
  • “Summit” (25/02/2009) – “Anti-government protest at Economic Job Summit”
  • “Rakon Industries protest” (16/01/2009) – “The supply of GPS systems to US military”
  • “Tamil Tigers” (19/01/2009) – “Anti Tamil Tiger protest by Sri Lankan Singhagalese”
  • “Chained Dog” (19/03/2009) – “Animal Cruelty”
  • “Tamaki Community Board” (27/04/2009) – “Protest re lack of swimming pool in Otahuhu”
  • “Hikoi” (22/05/2009) – “AK Super City protest”
  • “Chained Dog” (8/06/2009) – “Animal Cruelty”
  • “1080 Protest” (16/08/2008)
  • “1080 Protest” (11/10/2008)
  • “CBD1” (1/01/2009) – “Inner City Violence”
  • “CBD2” (1/04/2009) – “Inner City Violence”
  • “Operation Ratana” (01/02/2009) – “Ratana Church”
  • “Operation General Election” (01/11/2008)
  • “Operation Putiki” (01/10/2008 – “Govenor General visit”
  • “Operation Massey” (00/00/2008) – “Student occupation of university registry”
  • “Falun Gong” (17/07/2008)
  • “Tibet Candlelight vigil” (07/08/2008)
  • “Falun Gong/Amnesty International Protest” (16/08/2008)
  • “Republic Protest Parliament” (06/09/2009)
  • “Republic Protest Govt House ” (07/09/2009)
  • “Waihopi Demonstration” (18/09/2009)
  • “RNZAF Air Power Conference” (23/09/2008)
  • “Stagecoach Bus Strike” (25/09/2008)
  • “Peoples' Procession March” (03/10/2008)
  • “NZDF Industry Association meeting” (07/10/2008)
  • “Jerusalem Quartet Demonstration” (07/10/2008)
  • “Global Day of Action” (15/10/2008)
  • “National Fronth Rally” (02/11/2008)
  • “McDonalds Protest” (05/11/2008)
  • “Bible Group US Embassy” (06/11/2008)
  • “Australian High Commission” (01/12/2008)
  • “Protest against Justice” (11/12/2008)
  • “Greek Embassy Protest” (12/12/2008)
  • “Christians for Justice in Palestine” (13/01/2009)
  • “Anti-Hamas Protest” (14/01/2009)
  • “Palestine Peace Vigil” (15/01/2009)
  • “Gaza Meeting & March” (20/01/2009)
  • “Friends of Tibet Protest” (10/03/2009)
  • “Tamil Society Vigil” (16/03/2009)
  • “ANZ-ING Protest” (17/04/2009)
  • “Tamil Tiger Protest” (30/04/2009)
  • “Israel Independence Day” (01/05/2009)
  • “J Day Rally” (01/05/2009)
  • “Air NZ Protest” (07/05/2009)
  • “Sri Lankan Protest” (14/05/2009)
  • “VUW Protest” (29/05/2009)
  • “Peruvian Embassy Protest” (12/06/2009)
  • “Cuban Friendship Society Protest” (17/06/2009)
  • “Health Services Vigil” (21/06/2009)
  • “Rail & Maritime Union” (26/06/2009)
  • “Australian Embassy Solidarity Demo” (30/06/2009)
  • “Pay and Equity Rally” (30/06/2009)
  • “Trentham Races” (19/01/2009)
  • “Op Typhoon” (5/07/2008) – “VIP visit”
  • “Saudi Agriculture Minister” (13/07/2008) – “VIP visit”
  • “Premier of Niue” (29/07/2008) – “VIP visit”
  • “PM of Tuvalu” (11/08/2008) – “VIP visit”
  • “Op Gollard Australian Deputy Prime Minister” (13/08/2008) – “VIP visit”
  • “Israeli Ambassador” (22/08/2008) – “VIP visit”
  • “Op Gusmao PM of Timor” (28/08/2008) – “VIP visit”
  • “Japanese Minister” (30/06/2008) – “VIP visit”
  • “Op Prime Minister” (06/10/2008) – “VIP visit”
  • “Op Shah” (15/10/2008) – “VIP visit”
  • “President of European Community” (14/02/2009) – “VIP visit”
  • “President of East Timor” (15/02/2009) – “VIP visit”
  • “President of Afghanistan” (25/02/2009) – “VIP visit”
  • “Australian Prime Minister Rudd” (01/03/2009) – “VIP visit”
  • “President of Korea” (02/03/2009) – “VIP visit”
  • “Prime Minister of France” (10/03/2009) – “VIP visit”
  • “Op Prime Minister” (30/07/2009) – “VIP visit”
  • “Op Erma” (12/08/2008) – “Genetic modification of foods”
  • “Not known” (??/??/????)
  • “Not known” (??/??/????)