New Zealand Police Begin Knocking on TPP Protesters Doors

It’s a move that is being seen as “chilling” for free speech and democracy. Reports are surfacing that New Zealand police are knocking on known TPP protesters doors. The news comes less than a week before the apparent signing ceremony in that country.

If you are opposed to the TPP and live in New Zealand, the police may come knocking. That’s according to fresh reports from the country. The New Zealand Herald is reporting that TPP protesters are coming into contact with police ahead of the expected February 4th signing ceremony. From the New Zealand Herald:

Prominent anti-TPP protestor Professor Jane Kelsey said such monitoring of critics to the controversial agreement was “entirely predictable” behaviour from the Government, and shows the “disrespect the Government has had throughout to people’s right to voice their dissent about this negotiation and this agreement”.

“This is perfectly consistent with their attempts to shut down democratic engagement with, almost anything, but certainly with the TPPA.”

The Government was attempting to make a law and order issue out of the opposition to the agreement, she said, by painting those in opposition to it as radicals who posed a national security risk.

“One of the problems they’ve had is that the opposition has been a groundswell throughout the country of ordinary people from ordinary communities. If you look at the people who’ve been engaged in the marches it’s been grandmas and grandpas and people with pushchairs,” the University of Auckland law professor said.

“That’s an image the Prime Minister I’m sure is quite desperate to dislodge.

[…]

Civil liberties lawyer Michael Bott said the police action would have a “chilling” effect on freedom of expression and the right to protest.

“These people haven’t committed any crime and yet the police are going to conduct a search or an interview, and there are legal concerns with that.”

Labour Party police spokesman Stuart Nash says he thinks the door-knocking is “not the way we do things in this country”.

“My initial reaction is that it is a little heavy-handed. The protesters have a legal right to protest within the bounds of the law.

The report is a follow-up to word that New Zealand police have been undertaking mass riot training ahead of the TPP negotiations:

The Herald understands that increased riot training – officially known as public order training – has been taking place ahead of the signing, as police prepare for more possible civil unrest.

Police Association vice-president Senior Sergeant Luke Shadbolt said that the TPP signing was the focus of annual public order training.

The Herald understands that the training goes over and above previous annual training, and involved more staff on a “mass” scale.

Police National Manager of Response and Operations, Chris Scahill, said police were responsible for all security aspects of the event.

He would not be drawn on any operational details for the event – including staff numbers.

“We can however say that we plan for every eventuality which can be anticipated, and the measures we take will be appropriate and thorough.”

The articles do paint a rather ominous picture of what could be in store for the people of New Zealand. Obviously, people from many countries are already protesting the agreement and it is logical that some might even go through the effort of traveling to the country to directly protest the signing of the agreement. One can only hope things don’t get ugly, but it doesn’t look good from this perspective.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.



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