INDEPENDENT NEWS

Protest Letter Over Removal Of Tibet Protest

Published: Wed 15 Sep 1999 08:51 AM
LETTER OF PROTEST TO JENNY SHIPLEY AND POLICE COMMISSIONER OVER REMOVAL OF TIBET PROTEST
The following letter from Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke has been faxed to Prime Minister Jenny Shipley and Police Commissioner Peter Doone today.
“The Green Party has been shocked by the removal of peaceful Free Tibet protesters from a Christchurch city street last night.
“All the evidence points to them being removed on the request of the Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
“If this is the case, it is a dark day for New Zealand democracy, for several reasons:
“Firstly, it means New Zealand is adopting Chinese-style policing, where dissenters are removed from view.
“Secondly, it breaches the Bill of Rights, which allows for peaceful protest.
“Thirdly, the police were acting in a political way, going beyond their mandate to uphold the law. They did this with three actions:
a. Removing protesters who had clearly been acting peacefully for several hours behind established police barriers. In the New Zealand Herald this morning a police spokesperson claims that the activists caused a disturbance by becoming noisier as the night wore on. However, the Herald also reports that no noise could be heard inside the hotel where the state dinner for the Chinese President was being held.
b. By keeping sirens wailing when the Chinese President arrived, apparently to block the noise of the demonstrators reaching him as traveled by in his car.
c. By parking two large buses across the street to block the protesters from the view of the Chinese president.
“Fourthly, it seems likely from media reports that government officials put pressure on the police to act in this way. To put such political pressure on the police is to act in an unconstitutional way. The duty of the police is to uphold the law, not to obey the dictates of any government.
“Could you please the suppression of the protest last night, which seems to create an extreme grave precedent for civil liberties in this country.”

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