From Ōtepoti to Ihumātao

We’re at opposite ends of these motu, but the kaupapa is the same: protect Ihumātao.

26 July, an estimated 300 people marched in Ōtepoti in solidarity with the occupation of Ihumātao. The ISO was proud to be among those marching the streets of Dunedin, blocking intersections, and showing that there are people all across our country who are ready to answer the call to defend Ihumātao.

From an initial march to the David Clark Labour Party office, where he was, as expected, absent, the action spontaneously turned into a 2-hour long march down the streets of Ōtepoti. The sounds of Bob Marley’s ‘Get Up Stand Up’, and the chants of “Ka whawhai tonu mātou, Ake! Ake! Ake!” could be heard throughout the city centre.

And a spontaneous march this was! This action was an important lesson to never discount the potential of spontaneity. It only took one line of speech from the leading wahine to spur on the militancy of the crowd – “Who’s ready to disrupt some sh*t?!”

This spontaneity brought a major boon with it; police officers only arrived after the march had progressed half-way down George Street; the main street of town.

But this march was also a lesson in the need for experience and organisation in facilitating this spontaneity. This spontaneous action would not have had its level of success without experienced people readily taking up the duties required in these moments – traffic warding, police liaison, chant leading, march navigation etc.

Therefore this march showed the necessity of building up organisations, of which ours is one, as a means of facilitating and harnessing the spontaneous militancy of the masses. That is the responsibility and duty of a revolutionary socialist organisation. And that is our responsibility in spontaneous rebellions such as these which are, much like strikes, schools of revolution.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the suspension, for now, of construction at Ihumātao. This announcement came only a short time after the demonstration in Ōtepoti.

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Solitary confinement is torture!

npipBy Emma Walker
The UN agrees, anyone with a conscience agrees, even the scum over at the Department of Corrections agree: solitary confine is torture. But change the name, call it “23-hour lockdown” and suddenly Corrections is perfectly fine with it. Well, we’re not. Corrections can pull whatever linguistic stunt they want; the meanings of words are determined by use and what they refer to not, whether those in power prefer to be known as “torturers” or not. Corrections is currently using solitary confinement to torture a trans woman in a men’s prison, her mental health is suffering as a direct result as reported her advocates at No Pride in Prisons. The prison is a violent institution for all it places within its walls. It is rotten to the core. But for trans people this is magnified even further. Systemic transphobia is present at every part of the prison industrial complex.
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War Profiteers Not Welcome Here

Photo Credit: Cathy Casey

Photo Credit: Cathy Casey

“This is not a weapons trading event, this is normal everyday New Zealand businesses that supply goods and services to support the New Zealand Defence Force and Ministry of Defence” is what a representative said of yesterday’s Weapons Conference in Auckland’s Viaducts Event Centre, which was sponsored by none other than the world’s largest weapon’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.

This quote’s description of the conference as “normal everyday New Zealand businesses” is reminiscent of the phrase “there’s nothing to see here”; which always means that there is something to see. “Normal everyday” is a strange combination of words, one that might be used by someone caught doing something wrong. “No, don’t worry, this is just a normal everyday grenade I always carry around.” Putting the words “normal” and “everyday” in front of a concept doesn’t remove the violence it represents. [Read more…]

Tell Otago to #LoveHumanities

love-humanities-rallyBy Seb Hepburn

Last week between 300-400 people gathered outside the Union building at Otago University to protest proposed cuts to the Humanities division. Up to 20 jobs are at risk across the History, Anthropology and Archaeology, English, Languages, and Music departments, and the TEU has been vocal in its campaign against the cuts. There was a prior protest of similar size in August, and a smaller one outside a lecture theatre where Bill English was speaking in September. The tree next to the Union building had been adorned with knitted and paper hearts, the latter of which bore messages of support for the humanities. Once the crowd has assembled we began marching to the steps opposite the clock tower, led by a bagpiper. [Read more…]

Wellington solidarity with Syria

syria-protestBy Daniel Simpson Beck
Around 60 people gathered outside the Russian embassy in Karori on Saturday afternoon to protest Russia’s military support for the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. The Russian state is helping to maintain the Assad dictatorship by providing crucial air support in the regime’s attempts to crush the Syrian revolution. Since September last year, Russian air strikes have killed 10,000 people. Basher al-Assad’s unrelenting crackdown on the mass popular revolution against his regime has killed 400,000 people. A full half of Syria’s population have left the country to save themselves from bloodshed.

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Medical Cannabis Rally outside Parliament

dscf3123About 40 medicinal cannabis campaigners rallied at Parliament on Wednesday in support of a petition being handed in, and for Damien O’Connor’s Members Bill to permit medicinal cannabis being prescribed for the terminally ill and sufferers of significant pain. Yes Damien O’Connor, the sometimes illiberal Labour MP for West Coast. If O’Connor can support this step, surely anyone can! In fact the latest poll on this issue showed that 76% of New Zealanders support a law change to allow medicinal cannabis to be prescribed by doctors. Only 12% are opposed, and 12% undecided. The Government, however, are out of touch with public opinion. [Read more…]

Demanding better disability stories

 

Disability Stories 1.jpgby Daniel Simpson Beck

“Rights, not tragedy!”

“Assistance to live, not assistance to die!”

These were some of the chants of around 30 disability rights protesters outside the Embassy’s preview screening of Me Before You on Wednesday night. The rally was one of many around the world calling for a boycott of the Hollywood romance, a film that plays on the tired trope that disabled people lead tragic lives and are burdens on society. Protest organisers Esther Woodbury and Paula Booth call it as it is, “offensive, clichéd bullshit, which has denied disabled people the opportunity to tell their own stories to mainstream audiences”. This repetitive stigmatising of disability by the media is incredibly damaging. It helps to reinforce the view that disability should be avoided at all costs, and the abhorrent idea that disabled people are better off being killed. Internationally, many disabled people are furious at the release of yet another stereotypical, offensive, ableist story. As Robyn Hunt of Arts Access Advocates puts it, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. On Wednesday night in Wellington, some of that anger was expressed. Protesters held placards and a banner with slogans such as:

“Demand Better Disability Stories. #survivethemovie #getlaid #notyourinspirationporn”

“#Spoiler. Hollywood kills Will because he is disabled; Will doesn’t get laid.” [Read more…]

The Cruel Irony of Pride

No Pride in Prisons

Image credit: No Pride in Prisons

By Marc Inzon

I sat down to talk with a couple of No Pride In Prison (NPIP) members as they tried to get a respite from their scrum with the police. One of them tells me “pride has historically been a protest and to deny protest for the rights of queer and trans people where it began in New Zealand is ridiculous.” Behind us, we hear more chants of ‘The police are violent, we won’t be silenced.’ Another round of pushing shoving with the police had begun while the pride parade carried on.  [Read more…]

TPPA – this fight is not over

TPPA0.jpgBy Cory Anderson and Josh O’Sullivan

 

More than 20,000 demonstrators brought Auckland’s CBD to a standstill on Thursday, protesting the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).  Braving threats of a heavy-handed response from police, activists blockaded the signing venue at the SkyCity casino, shutting down intersections and impeding traffic in the surrounding area. As their numbers swelled through the morning, roaming protests fanned out through the city occupying key access points such as motorway on- and off- ramps, bringing traffic to a standstill and temporarily closing a section of the Harbour Bridge.  Meanwhile, thousands gathered around Aotea Square for the largest demonstration against the TPPA yet, and one of the largest in the last 30 years. People came to express their anger from all walks of life, Nurses, doctors, teachers, students, construction workers, lawyers, librarians and university lecturers were all amongst the crowd that marched down Queen Street, and at the front a Hikoi was led by a large Kapa Haka group. [Read more…]

No TPPA! Grasping Tuwhare’s Elusive Star

TPPA 1.jpgby Hebe Kearney

Normally I’d open here with statistics. I’d give you a scale of numbers, refer back to the biggest estimate, talk, only slightly ironically, about the power in numbers. Power in a few hundred, couple thousand. Today, I’m opening with the power in tens of thousands. 20,000-30,000 people marching through Auckland city; shutting down roads, business, even shutting down the pre-organized plan for the march itself. I’ve been filled with pure excitement, telling comrades enthusiastically that this is historic. The kind of thing people will reminisce to future generations about. It was awesome.

 

In 1975 Hone Tuwhare (New Zealand’s second Poet Laureate) wrote a poem about the Māori Land March. It’s one of those poems that has embedded itself deep into my consciousness. It has occupied my mind during many protests, yet somehow its stanzas have always seemed somehow disconnected from the usual contained, speech-bookended Queen Street affairs.  [Read more…]