Goodbye New Zealand, You Are a Travesty
by Reidar Visser
Officialdom and Torture in 21st century New Zealand: OFCANZ chief Malcolm Burgess, Wellington police commander Mike Rusbatch and Kapiti police chief Alasdair Macmillan. These officers must at least assume the nominal responsibility for the rampant crimes of torture committed by New Zealand Police in their jurisdictions and units.
After 8 months in New Zealand , the time has come to say goodbye. It is fair to say my expectations about a visit to a model democracy were crushed.
It makes sense to start my goodbyes with you, Mr. Key. You are the leader of a country which considers itself among the foremost examples of democracy and the rule of law in the world. It was with that splendid reputation in mind I decided to visit you, after my most basic human rights had been taken from me in my home country in Europe. And yet after 8 months, I am sorry to report that in terms of police criminality and widespread state-sponsored vigilantism you do not live up to your democratic ideals at all. Quite the contrary, your police wantonly indulged in all the human rights transgressions that form the mainstay of police stalking: Conspicuous surveillance, the enlistment of citizen stalkers, street theatre calculated to resonate with the police’s rather absurd theories about the victim’s sexual orientation, and extensive use of electro-magnetic torture devices. All this extra-judicial punishment was meted out to me, a visitor and an EU citizen who had never before been to New Zealand, without any sort of due process. It was all done simply upon instructions from foreign governments.
Among the most depraved aspects of police criminality during my stay in New Zealand was the extensive use of educational state institutions in citizen stalking focused on stigmatisation of sexual minority groups like sadomasochists, fetishists and other kinksters. This tendency was at is strongest in the Raumati area on the Kapiti coast, where children aged 6 to 15 were indoctrinated en masse to persecute sexual dissenters and their deviations from the hetero-normative paradigm after my arrival there. In the period November 2012-March 2013, in mass recruitment exercises reminiscent of Hitler jugend activities, children and teenagers at schools in Raumati and Raumati South (including Kapiti College) were instructed by police, government teachers or even their own parents to engage in acts like demonstratively sitting with feet on railway seats on the commuter train to Wellington, walking barefoot in public areas, or engage in various forms of street theatre intended as strictures on people of a sadomasochist sexual orientation. This is not only among the most disgusting features of your crime: It is also what sets it apart from ordinary crimes of torture and makes it a crime against humanity for which high officials of your government will hopefully one day have to answer before the International Criminal Court.
Wellingtonians and foreigners alike became very interested in photography in autumn 2012
Another exceptionally shocking transgression involves the daily and increasingly more intensive use of severe electro-magnetic torture for around 250 days. You are the country that has permitted the longest known deployment of this Mengele-inspired weapon that was introduced to the operation by Dutch authorities in June 2011. Of course, it is difficult to prove that this unconventional device was used to wake me up on average 5 to 7 times every night and to chase me out of the places where I was staying. But ask the citizens of Raumati South, who knew perfectly well what sort of social harassment I had to endure in public spaces. When I nonetheless opted to sit long hours on the train from Paraparaumu to Wellington every day just to get away from the most intense mistreatment in my rented home and have the ability to do some academic work, perhaps that may serve as an indication of the grotesque scale of what was going on?
Good bye, foreign minister, I wished to say a special greeting to you since I have had occasion to meet with some of your officials at earlier stages of my career. Back then, they were interested in my academic contribution to the reconstruction of Iraq – a field where I am still reckoned as a leading expert worldwide despite having been persecuted by Norwegian police for more than two years. You, as a government, ended up in a bigoted war against knowledge. As I was completing the first analysis in any language of the 8,000 candidates to the Iraqi local elections on 20 April, the police of Kapiti sent people into trains on the Wellington commuter line to harass me. As I was writing up a commentary on the legality of the partial delay in two provinces of those Iraqi elections, the Kapiti police reinforced their struggle: The New Zealand government wanted to prevent, at any cost, the publication of expert opinions on Iraq. And still despite widespread criminality and human rights abuse in the ranks of your own police, you keep talking condescendingly about other Pacific nations, as if you enjoyed some sort of pre-eminent democratic credibility in the region! Your own violations of international agreements – including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to which you are a signatory – means you cannot speak with authority on these matters before you have implemented extensive systemic reform in your own government that will likely take decades to complete.
Kapiti police officers seen here as they return from the final send-off when they encircled my bus in a remote rural area as I departed from Raumati South.
Goodbye, general auditor. I had planned to come by and say hello, since you have a special responsibility for super-monitoring the police after the flaws of the independent police commission (IPCA) was publicly acknowledged in a rare admission of your government’s own dysfunction. I never got that far, but let me write a few lines at least. When I first visited IPCA in August 2012 to make a complaint, I realised something was wrong. Shortly after I had arrived in the waiting room to complete my complaints form, what appeared to be one of the chief investigators of the authority came in, accompanied by a senior police officer who gave me the usual stare associated with conspicuous surveillance. They then found out the officer needed to be taken for a guided tour of the independent commission premises! “Here is the nerve centre”, yelled the IPCA investigator as the police officer was taken inside the precincts of the investigative body to great hilarity, all in a shameless display of the level of complete collusion. Little wonder my subsequent two complaints never got further than to Kathy Irvine, the gatekeeper who stops most applications before they even reach the investigation stage – and whose qualifications for her job according to herself consists of having been in the same position for 12 years.
Also, since you are the general auditor, beyond IPCA, I encourage you to look carefully at the use of police manpower in this operation. In particular, check out the nightshifts done by Kapiti police and the organised crime agency OFCANZ in the period from November 2012 to March 2013. Can you explain why, in a democracy, it is legitimate to keep police officers salaried in the middle of the night for the single purpose of waking people up with force? Again, the local population of Raumati South may not realise the full grotesqueness of the electro-magnetic methods used, but they can confirm the presence of noisy unmarked police cars every day in The Esplanade between midnight and dawn for most of the last four months, and in Wellington before that. And that was not only one car per day. Let’s put a conservative estimate of 3 police officers working night and day for the altogether 8 months I stayed in New Zealand. What is the bill for that? And, even more importantly, what are the results? Despite having criminalised large parts of the adult population of Raumati and East Clive who violated both the anti-harassment act and the anti-torture act (and led them to criminalise their own children), you did not manage to stop my Iraq writings or my criticism of the Norwegian and Dutch police forces. After having violated the act of torture crimes systematically for more than 250 days, the only result was that I moved between three places in a limited region around Wellington, and finally left after the electromagnetic torture had reached a level where it was so intense that it was threatening my general health in a very obvious way.
A special good bye to the white lower middle class semi-rural population of New Zealand that is sometimes referred to contemptuously as “bogans”. I got to see many of you during my month-long stay in East Clive, Hastings in December 2012 and January 2013. In some ways I find you more honest than the rest of New Zealanders. You hate sexual otherness from the bottom of your heart, and you are not shy about it. I am still disappointed though. At a certain point at school, you should have learnt that extra-judicial persecution is something the government does in North Korea, and not in democracies. Even if you didn’t remember that, have you not read about the massive impact bullying can have, and how easily it can lead to suicide? Then remember that police stalking is teenage bullying on speed. I don’t understand how you can cry about the horrible problems of bullying in one second and then go on to participate with eagerness in bullying of complete strangers in a format that is a thousand times worse. Let me add the fact that what you did was just for show, perhaps 2% of the full stalking operation: Public elements of police stalking typically focus on hilarity-evoking street theatre, all seemingly very distant from the raw torture dynamic that lies at the heart of these operations. But try to be mathematical about the noise harassment you and your neighbours engaged in during a typical stalker patrol. Multiply that activity with the typical duration of a stalking operation (in my case two and a half years). Then add the fact that every night, the police wakes up the stalking victim on average 5 times. In my case, that latter aspect alone amounts to more than 1,200 nightly interruptions over an 8-month period in New Zealand. That is 1,200 counts of transgressions of the anti-torture act.
But again, my beef is not mainly with you. Yours is a perfectly honest redneckism whish speaks its name with complete clarity. I am far more eager to say goodbye at some length to the so-called intellectuals of New Zealand, who are supposed to exist in large numbers in places like Raumati and in Wellington suburbs like Kelburn. Congratulations to you, because you have just empowered the people whose vision of society is as antithetical to yours as you can possibly imagine. Unlike the bogans who at least stay truthful to their own shallow ideals, you are the alchemists of your own revolutions. You claim to be Buddhists, environmentalists or leftists. And at the same time you behave like fascists. To a greater degree than your compatriots, then, you are a complete and utter joke. With your plethora of fancy flags of convenience, you are in fact far more dangerous to New Zealand democracy than your political opponents, who at least dare speak their true name. You, by way of contrast, run their police-state errands while pretending to be truthful to your own lofty principles. Oh yes, you can make politically correct sounds every now and then. But take hard core human rights issues like the presumption of innocence and the right of the accused to be heard, and it emerges that it is the essential similarity between oh-so-artsy Raumati and the uneducated illiterate bogans of East Clive, Hastings that is the defining characteristic of early 21st-century New Zealand society. In mattes of human rights, you, too, are illiterate. Do you really not understand that if you systematically undermine the presumption of innocence for other people, your victims will be tempted to respond in kind? Until now, I have been careful with suppressing the identity of my stalkers when documenting their activities, but after all I have been through, I may not be so diligent about that in the future after all.
Goodbye feminists of Wellington – or I should say, those of you who call yourself by that term. I realise you may have been attracted to the police’s discourse of extra-judicially punishing someone who engaged in street photography of women. Maybe you saw my efforts as anti-feminist. But please think a little longer. The police has no right to interfere with photography unless it is done in an illegal way (mine wasn’t). If you are unhappy with the law, the democratic way is to engage in parliamentary processes or start grassroots actions, and not to engage in state-sponsored vigilantism of the most medieval kind imaginable. The police has no right to concoct the law. And the police has absolutely no right to punish anyone – that is the sacred principle that supposedly constitutes the chasm between ourselves and North Korea. Despite this, in this process you took the police’s incoherent narrative at face value and began participating in the harassment operation without even hearing my side of the story and my academic explanation of my photography, relating to the powerful role of women in shaping street fashion, often by trumping designers and big commerce. Through your actions you have instead empowered Norwegian men who spend most of their time persecuting your sisters – sex workers who work legally under the “Swedish model” in the streets of Oslo, but who get systematically and illegally harassed by the police. Because they are your sisters, aren’t they? Those are the same Oslo police that cannot investigate rape even when there are signs of internal injuries, because they don’t have enough evidence! But they were very happy to come to New Zealand to carry out extra-judicial punishment in fancy hotels on your territory. And you have empowered their local New Zealand colleagues and buddies too, men who primarily express their opinion through the vroom of the car and the honk of the horn. Don’t you realise what a fantastic triumph it is for them when they were able to make you, the highbrow intelligentsia, behave like Nazi pigs too? Do you not realise that the police is inherently a patriarchal institution that will only serve to reproduce patterns of gender inequality?
Goodbye, Amnesty International. I have a special section for you after my experience with harassment at one of your events in Wellington in October. Yes, members of Amnesty participating in police-led harassment in their home country (conspicuous photography) while at the same time fighting hard for the rule of law at distant shores! With your energetic eye-rolling at developments in exotic countries and your firm closure of those same eyes before human rights crimes by your own police, you do take the concept of contradictions to a whole new level, even for New Zealand intellectuals. Not to speak of your special campaigns involving crocodile tears for people who get punished purely for their sexual orientation. Yeah right. I am sure you will be thrilled to learn that among the other partners enlisted by New Zealand police to take part just like you did were staff at the Chinese embassy in Wellington. That’s right New Zealand and China working side by side to destroy one of the world’s leading Iraq academics, who has perhaps done more than anyone else in the West terms of getting focus on rule of law problems in post-2003 Iraq. When you are an Amnesty member and at the same time participate in police stalking you have pretty much reached the outer boundaries for what sort of hypocrisy is humanly possible.
Goodbye Maoris of New Zealand. You were disproportionally recruited to harass me; you will be disproportionally targeted by the police when I am gone. Some things never change.
I have to say, though, I came to your islands with a political scientist’s vague idea about a well-functioning democracy – a beacon in a region where Australian politics is a shouting match about deporting foreigners, and where other countries still carry deep scars of colonialism. I depart with a sense of a nation building process that is only superficial. Once you scratch below the surface – for example by reading a couple of newspapers around your national holiday on Waitangi Day – you realise the extent to which wounds have been stitched up without healing and thereby continue to fester. First there was a dramatic story about Maoris fighting among themselves about who should accompany the PM for the festivities. The PM himself made it perfectly clear that he could not care less. One day later, a jubilant report on the proceedings in the Dominion Post concluded that everything had passed off without major incident! Not since I spent weeks perusing the Basra Times from the 1920s during my doctoral thesis have I come across a similar sense of condescension and that same familiar master narrative: Primitive natives will forever remain forever locked in their own paltry bickering unless the civilising power of White Man is interposed.
Goodbye, all honest citizens of New Zealand, whatever background you may have. I know you exist in large numbers even though none of you came forward to help me during my stay. You are fighting a valiant fight on issues like the environment, nuclear and foreign policy. But you should know that the real chancre through which many of the impositions from abroad pollute your country is something called OFCANZ, the organised and financial crime fighting agency. That agency is guided not by what the law says, but what is best practice in the FBI. It is particularly important to stress that what I have been exposed to in terms of sleep deprivation is not the result of an isolated renegade unit. The manpower hours speak for themselves: Someone high up must have known the purpose of all those nightshifts. There is not much legitimate police work to do in The Esplanade, Raumati South at 4 in the morning. What the top brass knew of the exact operational detail can perhaps be disputed, but they knew those people were there, paid by the government of New Zealand, for the single purpose of committing crimes of torture. These OFCANZ teams seem as institutionally criminalised as their counterparts in Norway and the Netherlands: They are so accustomed to breaking the law that without doing it, they might have trouble finding ways of doing what they believe is their job.
Perhaps they are best described as fake police. I should stress that this is not something I am the first to say; it is something that emerges from the proceedings of your own courts, which recently threw out a case where the police had forged documents. When called out, the police publicly expressed dismay they were not allowed to carry on with their forged prosecution! Of course warnings of this kind are probably not enough to address the patterns of institutionalised criminality that exist in institutions that are devoted to perverting the cause of justice. Even purges of these institutions may be a too soft approach. Only long prison sentences in accordance with the crimes of tortures act as well as the complete disbandment of OFCANZ is likely to restore a modicum of legality in the New Zealand judicial system. Again, I am not saying anything terribly new here. The Dotcom case has long ago demonstrated OFCANZ’s complete subservience to foreign governments; the mental shift you need to make is to stop considering the mistreatment of Dotcom as an exception to the rule and rather see it as the tip of an iceberg.
On the whole, I would rate you as third worst country that I have been to in terms of police criminality, after Norway and Netherlands who initiated and escalated the crime against me. I was certainly treated more humanely in the United States than in New Zealand. Perhaps what is most striking with you is your own seemingly unshakeable sense of democratic superiority, coupled with the horrific realities of rampant and institutionalised police criminality. That makes you into a particularly hypocritical nation even though similar forms of transgressions can be found in other places as well. Do you understand that you have done things that would be unacceptable for a democracy even if I were Jack the Ripper, Herman Goring and Usama bin Ladin all in one and the same person?
Goodbye, “anonymous government source”, who hinted at the truth in a commentary on the Dotcom case in the Dominion Post last August: “It doesn’t work that way. If it did, then we are a central African republic”. But it does work that way, and “central African” is indeed perhaps the most fitting description that can be given for you. Except that unlike most African republics, you are sailing under a false flag of democratic righteousness. Whereas I have now departed, your immense problems in terms of nation-building and a broken judicial system remain.