Well the Solicitor General has done what he felt he needed to do. I'm sure the activists are glad they don't have to pay for the trial (and they can stop worrying about possible conviction). However, the general public will never know what evidence the police had about whatever it was that the cops were so concerned about. It occurs to me that the SG's comment that the activities of the activists were worrying was based on the uncontested evidence of the police. He may have had a different view if the activists had been able to put their side of things.
Instead he pretty much said they were guilty but the cops wouldn't get a conviction. This gives the activists no right of reply except in the media.
I'm bothered by the recent arrest of activists in New Zealand.
These things come to mind.
I remember a documentary on the Rainbow Warrior bombing. An activist suggested the French government had decided to bomb them based on intelligence reports about the discussions the activists were having over a few beers. She described the conversations as being pretty typical overenthusiastic activist comments about possible destructive action which could be taken. The action was very unlikely to ever actually eventuate, but the French took it seriously when they heard it out of context. They thought the largely nuisance actions were going to turn into something more serious. End result; a right mess (and my opinion of the French is only just beginning to recover).
My memories of radicals is that they talk very intensely about things, they are radicals because they passionately believe in their cause. Otherwise they'd be as inactive as the rest of the population. That intensity can be mistaken for having no boundaries. It shouldn't be. Were the cops taking their intelligence about the radicals' discussions out of context?
If we were listening in to the private conversations of the cops over a few beers and we took them out of context, would we think they were corrupt?
At some point, a group of activists can become terrorists. One day the IRA started to kill people. I think it is important the cops keep an eye out for this happening in NZ. However they have to be very careful to not take action precipitously.
By arresting radicals, you risk martyring them and giving momentum to their cause. Also, it damages the democratic agreement to keep the fight to words and peaceful action only. When your stuff, time and liberty is confiscated by the cops with force, you may see them as more of a target for violent action. If you are Tuhoe it gives more strength to an impression of an invading army or an occupying force.
The radicals have been arrested on firearms charges. I wonder (in a vacuum of real information until the trial reports come through) whether their radical words were transformed from activism to terrorism by the presence of weaponry. If so, surely there are fascist gang members, war re-enacters and survivalists who the cops should be arresting.
Lastly, I was under the impression that most New Zealanders thought the terrorism legislation was for groups such as Al Qaida, ETA and the IRA. Proven killers. Not radicals who so far appear to be nothing more than expensive and inflammatory. It makes me think the legislation must be badly framed. I hate to think what Muldoon would have done with it.