Tuesday, 21 February 2012

I lied - I have more to say

I thought the trial would drive me to silence. I've written a lot about the raids, and a bit about the court case, but I've never explicitly outlined the political grounds that I base my solidarity on.  As I mentioned in my last post, I have found this case incredibly difficult to write about for years now.  But as the trial has proceeded I have discovered that there are things I want to say, no matter how difficult it is to do so.

Ross Burns, who is the crown prosecutor, (unfortunately he looks nothing like Mr Burns, although the name is still amusing), summarised his understanding of : "It's pretty clear that Plan A was negotiation.  If negotiation didn't work he [Tame Iti] at least felt it was in the interest of Tuhoe people to further their self determination at the point of the gun."

I think he expects his audience (not just the jury, but people like me who hear him on the radio) to be shocked by this, to condemn it out of hand.

My solidarity is based on my support of Te Mana Moutuhake o Tuhoe and if self-determination means anything, it has to include self-determination in the nature of the struggle.  If you support self-determination, Mana Moutuhake, or Tino Rangatiratanga, you have to respect those who are seeking liberation the right to determine their own struggle.

I should stop here and say that just because I would support the defendants if they were doing what Ross Burns says they were doing - doesn't mean that I think Ross Burns is right.  And even if he is right in the broader sense of Tame Iti's strategy, that doesn't mean any crime was committed, or that anyone else shared his ideas.  As a defence lawyer asked: "Was there just a bunch of people, the membership of which changed from time to time, with a myriad of motivations, ideas thoughts and objects, and perhaps - with respect - for some no idea at all."

The public defence of those charged has been based around denying the crown's case.  It is difficult to vigorously deny something, without supporting the idea that the thing you are denying is wrong (think of why 'not that there's anything wrong with that' has become a cliche).  I think the denial can give the impression of giving great significance to the small details of the crown case.  There is no crime, after all, in wearing balaclavas or in wanting to overthrow the government.

And this denial of the crown case is not the basis of my solidarity.  I think it's really important that someone says 'So what?'  to Burns's scaremongering about Tuhoe independence.


LudditeJourno said...

Maia this might be the first time you've written about Te Urewera 4 where I haven't agreed with you - and that's ok :-)
I believe it's possible to support liberation of a particular group, whether you belong to it or not, and reserve the right to be critical or opt out of particular actions they might take on political grounds. It's not that that's the case for me here - but as a principle I think it's important.
That said - I have only respect for the solidarity choices you make, and much admiration for your clarity of thought on this.

Kim Mcbreen said...

Tēnā koe
I completely agree, Maia. Thank you for writing this (I've been trying to write something similar).
ngā mihi

Maia said...

Thanks Kim.

Hey LJ

I don't think I meant quite what you understood me as saying. Which I was worried about, because I feel quite hemmed in and struggle to write this stuff.

I certainly believe in a right to be critical. I am, myself, critical. For example, I think the evidence that is going to be presented tommorrow is an example of people (I'm fairly sure not necessarily any of the defendants) acting in a way that is both politically and ethically indefensible (although also not something any of them are charged with). There are also issues, for me, around the role of men who were known to be abusive. Liberation movements exist in this world, and so are going to often reflect some of the injustice of society (and occasionally invent some more of their own).

It was with a much broader brush that I was talking about self-determination in struggle - strategy not execution.

I think it's important to say "I support them because I support Te Mana Moutuhake o Tuhoe - the truth of the crown case is irrelevant to me", because people haven't. Obviously what's been said in court is about what legal defences are open to people. But there are important principled defences of those charged, and too often rather than making them people claiming to support the defendants are instead just stating that they are awesome people who love snails. This post is a reaction to that. My defence and soliarity has never been based on them being awesome people (which is just as well, all things considered).
[I used the delete function to edit this comment, because it had an embarassing lack of clarity - even for me]

LudditeJourno said...

Gotcha - thanks Maia for clarification - that makes absolute sense to me. And it was clear :-)

Bianca said...

I love this post. We have fights about this at the dinner table at my house. I say SO WHAT! and SO DO I! a lot. I think it's important too.