Drop the charges, and free the Urewera Four!

The International Socialist Organisation offers its solidarity to Tame Iti, Emily Bailey, Te Rangikaiwhira Kemara and Urs Signer. We support Te Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe, and offer our solidarity to all the people of Tuhoe. This is just the latest in a series of raids, attacks and confiscations carried out by the state in Tuhoe land.

We are told that there is no money for schools or night classes, and that this is an era of ‘austerity’, and yet there has been plenty of state funding poured into this nasty and vindictive police case, one which involves probably thousands of hours of surveillance and harassment, all in the name of fighting a non-existent ‘terror’ threat. In October 2007 hundreds of armed police officers were involved in dawn raids, smashing their way into private homes. The charges have resulted in people losing jobs and incomes, and have traumatised many children. And yet right-wing commentators still have the nerve to lecture Maori on the need to ‘move on’ from anger over colonialism!

The ongoing persecution of the Urewera Four has brought stress, major financial difficulties, and huge emotional hardship to the defendants, their friends, and their whanau. Their treatment is an anti-democratic outrage.

Importantly, there is trade union support for dropping the carges. Syd Keepa, CTU Maori Vice-President, has issued a statement calling for the charges to be dropped. “Charges against 14 of the accused have already been dropped,” he says.

“Prosecution was initially sought under the Terrorism Suppression Act but the Solicitor General declined permission. Supreme Court ruled that some video surveillance evidence was inadmissible because it was illegally obtained. This case is a waste of tax payer money.” 

“Last year, a majority of the CTU affiliates council has supported a resolution calling for the charges to be dropped based on the stress and suffering of the defendants and the Ruatoki community, the delay of over four years in bringing the case to court. We are renewing that call today.”

“These people have already had four years with charges hanging over their head, it’s stressful on them, and for their whanau. It’s unreasonable they have had to wait this long to have their day in court,” said Syd Keepa.

You can find out more about the case – and donate in support of the defense campaign – by visiting October 15 Solidarity.

[We have taken the image at the top of this post from the October 15 Solidarity site, and acknowledge their work. It is a photograph of a banner hanging from the 128 Radical Social Centre in Wellington, one of the many places raided on October 15 2007.]