Forum protests NZ gov’t raid on NKorea friendship group

By Felicity Coggan
and Janet Roth
November 23, 2020

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Police raided the homes of two leaders of the New Zealand-Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Society, which provides humanitarian aid and solidarity to the people of North Korea, Oct. 19. An investigator from the police Financial Intelligence Unit flew in from the capital, Wellington, to lead the raid.

Peter Wilson, secretary of the society, described the raid in an interview in Counterpunch Oct. 28. “I was presented with an unsigned copy of the search warrant, which cited a breach of United Nations Sanctions.” He was questioned about payments from the society’s bank account, which he declined to answer on the advice of Matt Robson, the society’s attorney. The cops seized documents and “my laptop, cellphone, and notebook with phone numbers and all of my different passwords in it.” The other society member, a Presbyterian Church minister, had his cellphone, laptop and the society’s bank statements taken.

At issue was 2,000 New Zealand dollars ($1,380) the society sent to the North Korea Red Cross to combat COVID-19.

“This was intimidation,” Robson told an Oct. 30 Militant Labour Forum held here to protest the raids. Even under U.N. sanctions, he said, “it is legal to send humanitarian aid.”

“The Minister of Police said that it was an operational police matter,” he said. “But it is not routine for police to investigate a possible breach of U.N. sanctions.” Robson was Minister of Corrections and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in the government in 1999. He said the raid was “instigated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs” and that the Government Security Communications Bureau and Security Intelligence Service were involved.

The raids were carried out using the 2011 Search and Surveillance Act, which gives the police wide powers. Wilson and his colleague could face 12 months in jail or a NZ$10,000 fine, although no one has been charged yet.

The raids were a “fishing expedition to see what could be found to incriminate these individuals,” said Felicity Coggan of the Communist League, the other forum speaker. “And to intimidate all those who oppose sanctions against North Korea.”

Despite the sanctions exempting aid organizations, banks internationally are refusing to handle their transactions because of U.S. pressure, Robson said. “Of 17 NGOs that used to work in North Korea there is only one now.”

“These sanctions fall hardest on workers and farmers in North Korea,” Coggan said. U.N. agencies estimate 43% of the population is undernourished.

“Calling for an end to sanctions against the DPRK is a basic act of solidarity with workers and farmers there,” Coggan said. “Ending the sanctions would open opportunities for workers and farmers in both North and South Korea to get to know each other and work together, to fight to end the division of their country.”

Korea was divided into North and South, against the will of the Korean people, by the U.S. rulers after their victory in the second imperialist world war, with the acquiescence of the Stalinist rulers in Moscow. Workers and farmers carried out revolutionary mobilizations throughout Korea after the war, and capitalism was overthrown in the North. Washington occupied the South and installed a dictatorship that put down revolutionary struggles there in blood.

Between 1950 and 1953, Wellington joined Washington in a brutal war seeking to reconquer all of Korea, sending over 6,000 troops.

Aided by volunteers from China, the North Koreans fought Washington to a stalemate, and the U.S. government and its U.N. allies to this day refuse to sign a peace treaty.

“The New Zealand government must end its complicity in sanctions against North Korea,” Coggan said, “and its police and spy agencies should back off their interference against the NZ-DPRK Society, and return all the materials they confiscated to their owners.”