Protest is not terrorism: a ‘protest’ against Maritime Crimes Amendments Bill

Frances Palmer, ECO supporter and local environmental activist from Auckland, argues that the Maritime Crimes Bill will enhance “security” for visiting ships whilst placing our democratic rights at risk:

It’s over three decades since peace protests on Auckland Harbour and ‘water-borne’ protests like government’s Moruroa ship visits. Do New Zealanders realise that a Maritime Crimes Amendment Bill being rushed through Parliament will classify future ship-borne protests as ‘terrorism‘?

We should ‘protest’, vigorously question, any attempt to redefine ‘protest’ as ‘terrorism’. Such shifts threaten democracy, the right to express opposition to any questionable, contestable policy. New Zealanders cannot permit labels of ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorism’ loaded with inferences of ‘enemy’ and ‘security threat’, to cynically tarnish a tradition of ethical protest crucial in our history; nor to threaten well-meaning people from exercising democratic rights to defend issues like peace, justice, human rights and the environment.

We should also protest such bills being rushed through under the radar. Inadequate public consultation is an undermining of peoples’ right to express alternative opinions from that of any government. Facilitating broad public debate should not be perceived as a security nuisance. It is democracy. It is part of what protects our society from terror or terrorism.

Perhaps the Bill aims to enhance a sense of ‘security’ for visiting warships, such as visits looming, sponsored by weapons giants like Lockheed Martin, with a weapons expo to match the merry event. Given the sickening violence we see such weapons do daily overseas, most Aucklanders would prefer to protect our well-earned reputation as a ‘liveable’ Peace City, and the real sense of security that comes with that.

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