New Zealand: Left must be part of internet freedom fight

September 16, 2014
Moment of Truth public meeting, Auckland, September 15. Left to right: Internet MANA candidate Laila Harre, Robert Amsterdam, Gl

Immediately after the September 15 “Moment of Truth” public meeting — in which NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed John Key’s National Party government complicity in the wholesale, and illegal, surveillance of New Zealanders — Internet MANA candidate in the September 20 elections, Joe Carolan, spoke to Green Left on the meeting’s significance.

The meeting was convened by Kim Dotcom, an internet businessperson wanted by US authorities for allegedly infringing the copyright of large Hollywood corporations, and also featured investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, international human rights lawyer Robert Amsterdam and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Carolan said the revelations showed New Zealand "was not a bit player, but a key part of the Five Eyes alliance", which also involves intelligence agencies from the US, Britain, Canada and Australia.

He said the meeting highlighted how these revelations were "related to sovereignty, to freedom and to democracy itself".

On the meaning of the revelations, Carolan said: "We have seen these politicians are for hire, these agencies are for hire. Who are they for hire for? The corporations, the people pushing the TPPA, Hollywood companies seeking to persecute Dotcom.

"This is what all this machinery exists for. This is what the secret police, what the state, exists for — to uphold the corporate control of society. And if that means sacrificing democratic and civil rights, that’s what they’ll do.”

He said it was amazing “to be joined here tonight be Edward Snowden, and to hear how this government collects every piece of information, not just our metadata but every keystroke ...

“We heard about the TPPA [proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement 'free trade' agreement] and the might of these corporations, how they want to take people away who challenge them, like Dotcom. I think there is a huge feeling and I am looking forward to seeing the impacts over the next four or five days [leading to the September 20 national elections], and I’m looking forward to being an active participant in the coming days.”

On the impact of the meeting, Carolan said: “There is huge energy in this hall. I think people are moving from here to really participate to fight to defend democracy and civil rights.

“I think it has vindicated those of us in the MANA Movement who have teamed up with this generation of internet freedom fighters.”

The MANA Movement was formed in 2011 after militant MP Hone Harawira left the Maori Party in opposition to its support for the National Party government. Ahead of the September 20 poll, MANA formed an alliance with Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party, connecting MANA’s anti-poverty, social justice-based platform with the Internet Party’s concerns around civil rights and technological innovation.

Carolan, who is also a member of Socialist Aotearoa, said: “Tonight’s meeting comes from a rich tradition of protest for freedom, whether it is Occupy, whether it is the union movement. We are pioneering things — New Zealand has a history of pioneering things, from votes for women to the welfare state. We are pioneering things with the MANA movement, a left regroupment led by Maori.

“With the Internet MANA alliance, we are taking the issues of the 21st century and adding them to the 20th century ‘minimum program’. We want jobs for all, free education, housing for all — but the issues raised tonight are crucial. As Julian Assange said tonight, they are constructing a very sinister and bizarre new civilisation, and that the Five Eyes alliance is not an alliance of nation states, but powerful intelligence agencies, that we know almost nothing about and who undemocratically accumulate this information.

“And so it is important that 21st century revolutionaries are part of this fight for democracy and civil rights as they exist for this generation. The issue of internet freedom is a very powerful one. I think it is great that the left has helped to influence this movement in this country.”

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