State-Sponsored Terror? What can New Zealanders learn from Turkey’s tragedy?

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THIRTY-SIX HOURS AGO (11/10/15) in the Turkish capital, Ankara, 128 were killed in a double-barrelled terrorist attack. Two bombs exploded in quick succession in the middle of a peace demonstration. Most of the casualties came from Turkey’s Kurdish minority, many of whom were also members of the pro-Kurdish HDP (Peoples Democratic Party) campaigning for an end to renewed fighting between the Turkish Government and the military formations of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party). At the time of writing, no individual or group had claimed responsibility for the attack, but official Turkish sources were quick to blame the outrage on suicide bombers from Islamic State (IS).

Twenty-four hours after the bombs exploded, fighter-bombers of the Turkish Air Force struck back against targets in Iraq and Syria. Now, a reasonable person might suppose that those attacked would be the alleged planners and perpetrators of the terrorist attack – Islamic State. Surely, if the Turkish Government believed IS responsible for inflicting mass death and injury upon its citizens, it wouldn’t send its jets against anyone else?

But, as is so often the case with the behaviour of states, reason turns out to be no guide at all. Because those Turkish jets weren’t sent to exact retribution from IS, but from the PKK. That’s right, the Turkish Government’s way of honouring its dead Kurdish citizens was to escalate the very same civil conflict they had died trying to end. To order something like that takes a special kind of cynicism.

Small wonder that many Turks reject entirely the whole notion that the bombings were the work of Islamic State. They point to the similarities between this latest outrage and the terrorist attack that reignited the war with the PKK a few months back. On that occasion, too, IS was accused of attacking a gathering of mostly young socialists belonging to the HDP. As always, the question to ask is: Cui bono? Who benefits? The answer then, and now, is an increasingly unpopular, religiously-inspired authoritarian government desperate to recover its waning political support. Namely, the Justice and Development Party government presided over by the man who has dominated Turkish politics since 2003, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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Certainly, the tens of thousands of Ankarans who poured onto the streets in the hours following the bombings were absolutely sure who was responsible for the worst ever terrorist attack on the Turkish Republic. “Chief and Murderer Erdogan! Death to Fascism!” chanted the throngs of red-flag waving members of EMEP (Turkish Labour Party) gathered in Central Ankara’s Sihhiye Square.

And the relevance of all this to New Zealand is – what? Turkey, in spite of its membership of NATO has never really been a working democracy. This latest attack is all very sad and everything – but what’s it got to do with us?

Well, first and foremost, it’s a warning. A timely reminder of the ruthless impulses toward self-preservation that define the fundamental operating procedures of all states. New Zealand is no exception in this regard. Confronted with a sufficiently serious challenge, the New Zealand State has never been slow to demonstrate it ruthlessness.

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Local militia encamped outside Parihaka, November, 1881

In 1881, in western Taranaki, a combined force of police and local militia totalling 1,600 men, invaded the little Maori town of Parihaka, destroyed the buildings, dispersed the inhabitants, arrested the community’s leaders, and detained them in Dunedin for 16 months without trial. Seventy years later, the New Zealand State, in the course of crushing the militant Waterside Workers Union, suspended the political and civil rights of its citizens for 151 days. An equally massive exercise in repressive policing was mounted in 1981 to ensure the continuation of a tour by the Springbok rugby team from apartheid South Africa.

No one should ever be in the slightest doubt, therefore, that our own state – like all states – will do anything and everything to maintain the integrity of its core institutions. And, just in case you were wondering, the maintenance of citizens’ rights, and the preservation of democracy, form no part of that mission. A state’s core institutions are those responsible for maintaining the existing distribution of economic, social and political power. Or, to put it another way, those agencies to which the owners of society’s most valuable properties turn if their interests are threatened. At a minimum these include the courts, the police, the security services and the armed forces. A more expansive definition might include the news media, along with those conservative social institutions most readily enrolled in the State’s defence: farmers organisations, business associations, service and sports clubs, and, of course, right-wing political parties.

Turkey is a much larger state than New Zealand, and the economic and social crises through which it is passing – most particularly the conflicting demands of nationalism, secularism, Islamic religiosity and socialism – may appear to dwarf our own. But were this country to slide even a little from its present course: were ethnic and/or class-based political mass movements to assert themselves too energetically; then the ruthless internal logic of our own state’s core institutions may be relied upon to generate results every bit as explosive – and tragic –as Ankara’s.

27 COMMENTS

  1. Yes Chris,
    The extensions granted by law to our own various security branches and our so called allies is to protect the Governments from the people, its a protection racket designed to intimidate. Works rather well don’t you think?

    Still in John we trust…………

  2. Absolutely Chris.

    You really need to get this message through to the very comfortable middle classes of NZ/Aotearoa who are so busy sucking at the teat of minor capitalism that they can no longer see the bleedin’ obvious.

    And I’ve lost count of the number of supposedly “intelligent” people who laugh off such suggestions (I know coz I bin tellin’ the dozy sods for years).

  3. And by the way, there was coverage of this Turkish hit on Morning Report and I heard one of the peace protestors say that there was a noticeable absence of police presence at the demonstration. An unnatural absence. They certainly seemed to smell a rat.

    Your Dark State at work again Chris…

  4. Chris is drawing up bizarre comparisons, and seems to suggest this was the work of the Turkish state or agents working for it.

    So they are supposed to be able to find willing and committed suicide bombers to do it for the, are they?

    I think this is nonsense. The likely responsible ones behind this may indeed be ISIS, or people that sign up to their ideology, without perhaps having direct links. ISIS have the greatest interest in tensions within Turkey to increase and in a destablilised Turkey. The Turkish government does though have some responsibility also for heightened tensions, for having bombed more YPG Kurdish fighter targets in Northern Syria than ISIS targets. Also is the crack down against Kurdish nationalists and alleged fighters and their supporters within Turkey out of control, and rather unproductive.

    As much as I am critical of affairs in NZ, I think it is absurd to draw parallels to this country, i.e. to what may happen here one day. Chris seems to be wandering in phantasy land in this post.

    • And yet, Mike, Chris is correct on several points;

      1. The Turkish government did not launch punitive strikes against ISIS – they attacked Kurdish forces (which have been extremely effective in halting ISIS advances)

      2. Kurds are a repressed minority in Turkey, and have suffered badly at the hands of the Turkish State

      3. The New Zealand State has shown itself to be equally ruthless when it metes out punitive measures against dissent that threatens it.

      I’m old enough to remember the 1981 Springbok Tour and how State Power – through the police – was brutally enforced.

      God knows how it would be enforced today…

      Oh wait…

      Maybe I do; https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/police-behind-the-8-ball/

      • “The New Zealand State has shown itself to be equally ruthless when it metes out punitive measures against dissent that threatens it.”

        HAHAHAHAHA. Really? Just as ruthless?

        • Wellington Trades Hall bombing

          ………………………………………

          On 27 March 1984, a suitcase bomb was left in the foyer of the Trades Hall in Wellington. The Trades Hall was the headquarters of a number of trade unions, and it is most commonly assumed that they were the target of the bombing, although other theories have been put forward. Ernie Abbott, the building’s caretaker, was killed when he attempted to move the suitcase, which is believed to have contained three sticks of gelignite triggered by a mercury switch. To this day, the perpetrator has never been identified. Those elements of the New Zealand Police responsible for preventing and investigating such crimes were headquartered in the building across the street.

          ……………………………………………………………………..

            • Nope, I think Theodore is spot on. If you’d been living in Ruatoki during the Urewera Raids, you’d have a different perspective, instead of your comfortable, privileged, white middle-class background.

              [My apologies; incorrectly deleted and re-posted under wrong account. Sorted now. – ScarletMod]

      • Yes, there have been dark days in New Zealand’s history, and the present “regime” is nothing much to be proud of, and cannot be trusted. But Chris is stretching the bow a bit much, when suggesting that the Turkish government hires suicide bombers and commits such an atrocity, which will only create more sympathy for the Kurdish cause, also internationally, and do anything but serve the Turkish government’s interests.

        And then linking this to past and present events or trends in NZ, perhaps even suggesting a NZ government would also use such violence like suicide bombings, to instill fear in people, that is in my view bizarre. So I bear it on the chin, those that down-vote my comments.

        • Really? Did Chris actually say ” Turkish government hires suicide bombers and commits such an atrocity”?

          A government does not have to perpetrate such an atrocity. They can merely allow it to happen.

          When I said “the New Zealand State has shown itself to be equally ruthless when it metes out punitive measures against dissent that threatens it” – that ruthlessness can be shown in many ways, Mike. Sometimes, the ruthlessness can be exhibited in ways that do not use explosives of a chemical nature. Police/State reprisals can be just as “explosive”, if used with determined, focused effect.

          Chris gave two examples; the destruction of Parihaka and the 1951 waterfront lock-out. The former was a para-military action, and the latter a police-state action. Both crushed dissent as effectively as if a bomb had been detonated.

          Quiet, innocent, peaceful New Zealand – the State can be as brutal and repressive as any other around the world.

          Most folk just don’t like to think about it.

          • The greatest danger to democracy in present day New Zealand does not come from police ignoring threats of bombings and from the marginal armed forces we have, the greatest threat comes from the sadly too widespread indifference, ignorance and apathy of ordinary people living here, Frank.

            And that is also exploited by a commercially focused mainstream media, that is more interested in serving the commercial interests of business, big and small, to push for products and services, and to sell advertising to them.

            Infotainment, consumerism, dumbing down are the real big threats we face, combined with mass manipulation by distracting from more serious issues, and reporting on weather, accidents, the odd bizarre and nasty crime incident, more weather, endless sports and the many celebrity “idols” that are sold to the young and not so young.

            In Turkey there are at least still enough people that care about the real core issues and that protest, protests in Aotearoa NZ seem to have become the marginal activity of certain focus groups and activists, and are often even frowned upon by many “ordinary” Kiwis.

            With that, who needs the threat of oppression by police, armed forces and state agencies, as others do the jobs for them, without any apparent “force”. Add the mercenary and “dob in your neighbour” mentality of so many small town minded, and you have the perfect dictatorship not necessitating any of what was done in the past. I am sure we can agree on that bit.

    • Wellington Trades Hall bombing

      ……………………………………..

      On 27 March 1984, a suitcase bomb was left in the foyer of the Trades Hall in Wellington. The Trades Hall was the headquarters of a number of trade unions, and it is most commonly assumed that they were the target of the bombing, although other theories have been put forward. Ernie Abbott, the building’s caretaker, was killed when he attempted to move the suitcase, which is believed to have contained three sticks of gelignite triggered by a mercury switch. To this day, the perpetrator has never been identified. Those elements of the New Zealand Police responsible for preventing and investigating such crimes were headquartered in the building across the street.

      ……………………………………………………………………………………….

  5. Reminds me of Daily Coin’s excellent piece ““Homegrown Terrorists”: New US Draconian Laws Usher in the New World Order” and I quote

    Criminalizing dissent is redefining homegrown terrorism to include anyone willing to exercise their basic civil liberties guaranteed US citizens under this nation’s Constitution that for over two centuries was recognized as the ultimate rule of law in America. But now any Americans daring to even criticize and object to the federal government’s growing tyranny is conveniently labeled a belligerent and enemy of the state subject to assassination or indefinite imprisonment led by a dictator president who matter-of-factly proclaims his despotic right to kill fellow Americans on US soil. – See more at: http://thedailycoin.org/?p=40390#sthash.SYdAKn4L.dpuf

    …and if we think of the way that Campbell live was knee-capped for “daring to criticise to the federal government’s growing tyrrany”

    There more than one way to get rid of that ‘left wing bastard’
    but it has a ‘desired’ effect of bringing the MSM’s little piggies into line, flying if formation and spouting the right-wing gobtripe.

    • The morphing of “terrorism” and “domestic dissent” into an all encompassing and convenient category known as “domestic terrorists” or “domestic extremists” has been a long time coming. It’s always been my contention, and continues to be, that the oligarchs who have funneled all of the wealth to themselves since the 2008 banker bailouts know exactly what they are doing. They also know that it will eventually result in severe domestic unrest during the cyclical downturn. As such, the agenda has been to utilize the entirety of the intelligence-industrial-military complex created by the “war on terror” against the domestic population once it recognizes how badly it has been looted…

  6. Wellington Trades Hall bombing

    ………………………………………

    On 27 March 1984, a suitcase bomb was left in the foyer of the Trades Hall in Wellington. The Trades Hall was the headquarters of a number of trade unions, and it is most commonly assumed that they were the target of the bombing, although other theories have been put forward. Ernie Abbott, the building’s caretaker, was killed when he attempted to move the suitcase, which is believed to have contained three sticks of gelignite triggered by a mercury switch. To this day, the perpetrator has never been identified. Those elements of the New Zealand Police responsible for preventing and investigating such crimes were headquartered in the building across the street.

    ……………………………………………………………………………………….

    There you go cobber , – well said Chris.

    The protection of vested interests by the use of conservative institutions in this country is REAL.

  7. Counter-terrorism

    …………………….

    The principal government agencies responsible for countering the threat of terrorism are the New Zealand Police (who have responsibility for direct action) and the SIS (who have responsibility for providing information on which action can be based). The counter-terrorism capabilities of the Police have been expanded in response to the September 11 attacks in the United States, and counter-terrorism also takes up a significant proportion of the SIS’s budget. One observer has argued that New Zealand “already had in place a very comprehensive set of counter-measures” before that point.

    ……………………………………………………………………………………….

  8. Hmmmmm…. a bullet hole found in Hone Hawira’s office windows… near election time….

    And Unite unions offices being burgled and documents taken ….

    Hmmmm….

    Interesting…..

    Very , very interesting….

    Wouldn’t you think ?

    Work of a lone ‘ nut ‘ ….or perhaps a little more organised… hmmmmm….very interesting….

  9. The 1912 Waihī strike

    In March 1912 a small group of gold-mine engine drivers (who operated the machines that raised and lowered the miners in the mine shafts) formed a breakaway union under the Arbitration Act. The 1,000 members of the Waihi Miners Union stopped work in protest.

    The strike became a violent conflict after an anti-union government headed by William Massey took office in July 1912. Large numbers of police were sent into Waihī, more than 60 strikers were jailed, and hundreds of strike-breakers were recruited. In October 1912 the mines reopened and strike-breakers were driven to work in horse-drawn wagons under heavy police guard.

    On 12 November 1912 strike-breakers attacked the union hall, and striker Fred Evans was beaten to death. They then rampaged around Waihī, forcing the other strikers and their families to leave town.

  10. War on the wharves – the 1913 strikes

    The most disruptive strike in New Zealand history was in 1913. At that time many New Zealand workers were influenced by the idea, introduced from Europe and the US, of revolutionary industrial unionism. They believed that if enough workers could join together in a general strike, they could take over their workplaces and run them for themselves. Two small local disputes involving Huntly miners and Wellington watersiders spread to other ports and mines.

    Protective clothing
    During the 1913 strike, many Wellington ‘special constables’ had their headquarters in the city’s exclusive Wellesley Club, which still operates in the downtown business district. Every night the ‘specials’ assembled at the club to begin nightly patrols of sites such as the government buildings and the Dominion Museum. Before heading out, some put on padded leather helmets to protect themselves against blows from strikers, resulting in ‘a great deal of wry humour’ from club members.

    By November 1913 about 16,000 watersiders, miners, labourers, drivers and others were on strike, mostly in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch. This was an opportunity for employers and the Massey government to force the militant unions back into the arbitration system. As in 1890, the police called for volunteers to help control the strikers and reopen the wharves. Thousands of these strike-breakers were recruited, enrolled as ‘special constables’ (temporary police), and armed with wooden batons. Some also used their own firearms and horsewhips. Most were farm workers who rode into town on horseback and were soon named ‘Massey’s Cossacks’ by the strikers. Others were office workers from city businesses, who patrolled the wharves and other vital areas on foot. The strikers responded to their arrival with fierce street-fighting and sabotage.

    For several weeks the country was on the brink of violent revolution. The government sent two naval ships to guard the wharves. On 5 November 1913 the special constables marched through Wellington and reopened the wharves. In Auckland, when ‘Massey’s Cossacks’ marched down Queen Street to the waterfront, the strike committee called a general strike and most work in the city stopped for several days. After six weeks the government arrested the main strike leaders (including several future labour ministers) and the strike petered out.

  11. To the two right wing clowns who sarcastically posted in their sheer political, historical and pseudo Ivory tower pig ignorance….I have deliberately supplied this site with historic data to expose these two idiots naivety…

    However, … like many with ulterior motives who either A) deliberately and conveniently play dumb to the historical facts when it suits their agenda’s,…

    Or … B) use straw man arguments and diversions to downplay so called conspiracy theory’s – ( which – by the way, is always bad science as no serious detective would ever adopt that mentality … if detectives were to adopt these two knuckleheads ideas they would dismiss all leads of inquiry ) … that these examples stand as stark reminders to never take the kind’s of dangerous positions as the two smug individuals above.

    So there we have it , ladies and gentlemen… several accounts of historic and political incidences that ACTUALLY occurred on this country’s soil. AND cost several their lives because of it. And most of which had the general backing of the incumbent govt’s of the day.

    I would trust the two nincompoops in the above posts would be a little more careful in future before they foolishly try to dismiss out of hand factual and documented events to further their own political ends on this blogsite.

    After all…that could have been them who were killed in that trades hall bomb blast.

  12. In Turkey Gladio operators were called ‘Grey Wolves. Here is the old BBC documentary about Gladio.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGHXjO8wHsA

    Turkish citizens are being reintroduced to ‘the Years of Lead which were especially nasty in Turkey.
    Here is a clip of Turkish police blocking ambulances after the bombing.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMts0la6H7g

    It could happen here. As a sort of mop up exercise to extinguish any remnants of resistance. No Nations any more of course. Just one great global smoking Armageddon. Just what Jehovah ordered.

  13. […] In recent postings, Chris Trotter has raised the spectre of the ‘deep state’ (Securing “Buy-In” For The TPP: The Deep State Takes Over) and of what might be called the ‘terror state’ in Turkey and elsewhere (State-Sponsored Terror? What can New Zealanders learn from Turkey’s tragedy?). […]

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