Victoria University: No Free Speech Here Thanks.

October 2, 2009

Victoria University management has repeatedly refused to answer the various charges laid against it by Workers Party activists Heleyni Pratley and Joel Cosgrove in response to the management imposing a two-year trespass order on them.

“This draconian trespass order was imposed on us for the crime of participating in a protest against substantial fee rises,” say Pratley, a former student exec member, and Cosgrove, last year’s student president.

Two students have also been charged with serious misconduct for participating in the protest, at which a few eggs were thrown at university councillors.

“Protesters annoy Vic; they get in the way of its smooth business operation, that’s why they put any protesters in a box guarded by security guards,” say Pratley and Cosgrove.

“Every year Victoria University receives hundreds of millions of public funds and claims to be the critic and conscience of society as well as the focus of a wider community. Yet when challenged on their behaviour they ban and attempt to silence anyone who disrupts their corporatist agenda.  They’ve trespassed us because VUW cannot stand being called to account. Now they’re setting up kangaroo courts to punish the students who participated.

“The university is intentionally refusing to answer any questions about their actions, to silence any discussion, because what they did is indefensible and they know it,” say the pair.


OPEN BORDERS OR LEFT NATIONALISM?

March 19, 2009

History
by Don Franks

Since its formation the Workers Party of New Zealand has recognised that immigration controls are essentially a boss’s device to control workers. Accordingly, the Workers Party has always stood firmly in opposition to immigration controls. Point 4 of our 5-point programme spells it out in these words:

“For working class unity and solidarity - equality for women, Maori and other ethnic minorities and people of all sexual orientations and identities; open borders and full rights for migrant workers”.

Some people see our policy of open borders as extremist. Others realise that a truly internationalist position can’t settle for anything less. Genuine socialists insist on workers absolute freedom to travel and take up residence wherever they choose. Read the rest of this entry »


“Guilt by accusation” law stalled

March 6, 2009

Byron Clark The Spark March 2009

The government has stalled a controversial change to copyright law that would have seen Internet Service Providers removing Internet access from anyone accused (not convicted) of violating intellectual property laws though downloading pirated music or video. The controversial clause was removed by a parliamentary select committee last year, but was put back into the legislation by then-Labour Government minister Judith Tizard - with National’s support. Prime Minister John Key has conceded however that this change to the Copyright Act could be “problematic”, and suggested it could be thrown out. In the week leading up to the original implementation date a web based campaign organised by the Creative Freedom Foundation saw people ‘black out’ content on their websites in protest against the law, culminating on February 23rd when most of the country’s major blogs (and a number of other websites) took down front page content for the day and replaced it with a black page.

Read the rest of this entry »


Oppose “guilt by accusation”

February 21, 2009

One week from now New Zealand’s new copyright laws will come into effect, including the “guilt by accusation” clause (Section 92A) meaning Internet Service Providers will be forced to take down internet connections and websites of anyone accused (not convicted) of copyright infringement. The Workers Party is opposed to this clause and supports the protests against it that have been occurring. As well as section 92A we support repealing the parts of the law criminalising circumventing the so-called “Technological Protection Measures” on media such as DVDs, something we have covered in detail here.


Stop the use of lèse-majesté in Thailand - Defend freedom of speech

January 24, 2009

giles12

John Moore from the Workers Party, who has lived and worked in Thailand, gives details of an international campaign to stop the use of lèse-majesté in Thailand.

The Thai government is currently cracking down on dissent, and is using laws to ‘protect’ the monarchy to squash critical voices in Thai society. Such laws are known as lèse-majesté and frame criticism or insulting of a monarch as treason. Thai Marxist and academic Giles Ji Ungpakorn is facing lèse-majesté charges for the writing of his book A Coup for the Rich. A pdf version of this book can be found here.

A petition/open letter has been initiated by Thai activists calling for the scrapping of lèse-majesté laws and that the Thai government drop all proceedings in lèse-majesté cases.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn has been a ceaseless critic of the military’s intervention into politics in Thailand. He has accused the current government of gaining power through a coup. The elected Peoples Power Party government was recently deposed through a court order. The current Democratic Party led government was put together with the aid of the head of the military, and has full military backing.

Giles has been a consistent critic of authoritarian measures used by Thai state forces. He has championed the cause of workers and the rural poor in Thailand. He has also campaigned against the brutal military intervention against ethnic Malay insurgents in the South of Thailand.

The Workers Party is happy to play a part in offering solidarity to Giles and to help with the international campaign against the use of lèse-majesté in Thailand.

Below is the open letter/petition which Giles Ungpakorn is asking people to sign:

Read the rest of this entry »


Capitalist state just doing its job

December 16, 2008

The sordid actions of police informant Rob Gilchrist infiltrating New Zealand activist groups is yet another case of the bourgeois state ‘just doing its job’. In this blog post John Moore argues that the left should strongly condemn the police for their actions, yet those that act with howls of surprise and shock show how little understanding they have of the relationship between the state and capitalism in New Zealand. The left needs to start organizing more seriously against the coercive powers of the capitalist state, but at the same time exercising caution rather than paranoia.

Police spy Rob Gilchrist

The actions of Rob Gilchrist and the police reveal the ugly face of the capitalist state.

So far we know that Gilchrist has acted as a spy for the police for 10 years. He has informed and gathered information on organisations including Greenpeace, anti-Iraq War groups, poverty and beneficiary rights groups, animal welfare groups, GE-free groups and the Workers Party (formerly the Anti-Capitalist Alliance). balaclavaThe use of Gilchrist as a police spy was not an anomaly, but part of wider police intelligence programme. According to the Sunday Star Times http://tinyurl.com/684u3s

The use of an informer was part of a much wider police intelligence effort targeting community groups, using surveillance, filming of protests and seizure of computers and papers following protest arrests.

Read the rest of this entry »


State snooping on activists

December 15, 2008

Yesterday Rob Gilchrist, who had moved in activist circles for many years, was outed as a spy in a feature article in the Sunday Star Times. Ironically Gilchrist was sprung by his girlfriend who discovered suspicious emails while helping him sort out some computer issues.

Gilchrist had spent a decade spying on an assortment of protest and activist groups, including the Workers Party. As far as we are aware he was forwarding to the police WP discussion emails for around 10 months in 2003-2004. He was taken off the party discussion group on 1 March 2004.

We reprint below an article on the expansion of the state’s snooping powers from The Spark 9 February 2005.

Civil rights fast disappearing

-Daphna Whitmore

Allegations in 2004 that the Secret Intelligence Service have been spying on political figures, including Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, have been met with loud denials from the Prime Minister. As much as Ms Clark would like the public to think the allegations are preposterous it wouldn’t be the first time the SIS has gone beyond its extensive powers.

In 1996 an SIS agent was caught carrying out an illegal break-in and burglary of the home of political activist Aziz Choudry. A court later awarded Mr Choudry compensation for the illegal actions of the SIS. The government then promptly passed a law to legalise such break-ins, giving the SIS further powers to carryout home invasions. It was one of many instances in recent years where civil rights have been abolished in the name of “national security”.

Read the rest of this entry »


Why we need fewer cops

October 31, 2008

Talk given by Workers Party Manukau East candidate Daphna Whitmore at an election meeting at Otahuhu College, Auckland 29 October 2008

I want to talk about law and order and police in South Auckland. The Workers Party believe we need fewer cops, not more cops as most of the parties are saying.

I work for a union that is organising worksites such as McDonalds.

For the past month McDonald’s workers have taking strike action. There have been over 40 strikes in the past 30 days. These McDonald’s staff work hard; they are on their feet all day and get just over $12 hour. It’s a poverty wage and the hours of work are uncertain, going up and down each week.

McDonald’s workers at Auckland Airport went on strike a couple of weeks ago. It was a perfectly legal strike and they stood outside in the carpark to hold a peaceful picket. But the security bosses at the airport tried to stop the strikers and called the cops who were there in minutes.

Read the rest of this entry »


Workers Party condemns fresh charges against activists

October 31, 2008

Workers Party media release

The Workers Party has condemned the decision today by the Crown Prosecutor to lay fresh charges of ‘participating in an organised criminal group’ against 5 of the social justice activists arrested in last year’s so-called ‘anti-terror’ raids.

“Having failed to make the terrorism charges stick, the NZ Police and Crown Prosecution are now trying to smear these Tūhoe and social justice activists as nothing more than a criminal gang,” said Workers Party national organiser and list candidate Tim Bowron.

“The real criminal gang here are the members of the NZ Police force who last October terrorised the people of Ruatoki, and who continue to act as the hired thugs of the ruling class on a daily basis in this country by routinely breaking up union picket lines and workers’ demonstrations,” he added.

The Workers Party, contesting the party vote for the first time this election, calls for the abolition of Labour’s “anti-terrorism” legislation along with all other laws that restrict working peoples’ freedom of speech and activity. It also campaigns actively against all forms of racial oppression and inequality.

ENDS

Official Workers Party statement on October 2007 ‘anti-terror’ raids available here.


Educators, trade unionists support suspended teacher

October 30, 2008

Workers Party media release

Over 30 prominent academics, teachers and trade unionists have signed an open letter in support of suspended school teacher Paul Hopkinson, standing as the Workers Party candidate for Christchurch East in the upcoming election.

Despite campaigning only in his own time (weekends and school holidays), Mr Hopkinson was told that due to a provision of the 1993 Electoral Act concerning
the political activities of public servants he would have
to take unpaid leave for the three weeks leading up to
the 2008 general election.

Mr Hopkinson considered this an undemocratic restriction
on his participation in the political process, as having a
partner and two children to support and not having any
other financial resources to fall back on he simply cannot
afford to take unpaid leave. He also felt that it places
small minor parties like the Workers Party at a
disadvantage, as unlike the major parties Labour and
National they cannot afford to pay their candidates’
wages for the duration of the election campaign.

After refusing to take unpaid leave, Mr Hopkinson has
become the first teacher in New Zealand to be
suspended without pay by his employer.

Below is the open letter in support of Hopkinson and list
of signatories. This document is also available online
here.

Read the rest of this entry »


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