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5th April 2022

Opinion Piece

The Freedoms & Rights Coalition

Today marks 78 days that Brian Tamaki has been a political prisoner in this country, since he was first arrested at 8am on Monday 17th January 2022. This resulted in a ten-day stint in Mt Eden Remand Centre, followed by 67 days of 24/7 home curfew.

Today @ 10am Tamaki is a free man as his home curfew finally lifts.

Today a judge has agreed to this long-awaited bail variation. Today, Tamaki can now freely leave his house, a freedom we have long all taken for granted.

If you can put aside any personal bias you may carry towards Brian Tamaki, one must honestly ask…did the alleged crime warrant the punishment? Essentially he was imprisoned for a ‘fine-only’ offence. This is not supposed to happen under NZ law. And if it can happen to him, it could happen to you next!

Tamaki has maintained all the way through that our rights are under attack. The right to protest, the right to freedom of speech, the right to freedom of movement, the right to peacefully assemble and more, have all been violated. Under Covid laws, the NZ Police are also supposed to act fairly and consistently in their prosecutions. This has clearly not occurred.

Firstly, let’s be clear. What is a political prisoner?

A political prisoner - a person who is imprisoned because that person’s actions or beliefs are contrary to those of their government. Their thoughts and ideas fundamentally challenge existing power.

Right from the outset, it was clear that there was political interference in how the police dealt with Tamaki.

From the moment MP Willie Jackson was sent by Cabinet to request a meeting with Tamaki and the NZ Police to discourage the first protest on 2nd October 2021, and the subsequent involvement of MP Poto Williams in Tamaki’s arrests, it’s clear there has been political interference. There is yet more coming to light on this.

If the concern at hand, was truly a health and safety issue, shouldn’t the Ministry of Health have been the ones to engage with The Freedoms & Rights Coalition? Or shouldn’t it have just been left in the hands of the NZ Police if it was a safety issue? So why did politicians get involved?

Let’s be honest now, the real concern at hand was that this government felt their power was challenged, threatened or even being embarrassed by the strong leadership of Tamaki and the accuracy of what he was publicly saying. He was calling this government to account for their overreaching control under the covid of Covid, which was violating the freedoms and rights of many Kiwis. This triggered massive efforts to try and silence him quickly, imprison him, and make him a political prisoner. Tamaki’s message was resonating with too many people.

The Amassing of a Movement

When Tamaki began to speak in September through live videos, then in-person when he spoke on the steps of the Auckland Museum on 2nd October 2021, his message challenged mandates, lockdowns and the toughest Covid restrictions in the world. His message struck a chord with many Kiwis. His courage to stand at the Auckland Domain that day under the strictest level four lockdown, inspired courage in many others to then rise and stand in the weeks following.

What the government underestimated however is that The Freedoms & Rights Coalition could continue without its founder, via the hands of leaders who have been mentored by Tamaki. No matter how many people they tried to prosecute, the machine just kept on growing and moving. In the following weeks and months, protest numbers went from the initial 5,000 people on 2nd October, swelling to close to 100,000 people gathering nationwide on one Saturday at the protest peak.

They also underestimated how Tamaki’s courage, message and subsequent media coverage, would spark even greater courage in many freedom fighters across this whole country. As a result multiple other freedom groups quickly sprung up as well, and they too grew in confidence and courage.

To date, The Freedoms & Rights Coalition have organised over 100 protests since the 2nd of October 2021. Every single one of these protests has been peaceful and respectful. Despite concerns from the NZ Police, TFRC were even able to safely pull off the huge march across the Auckland Harbour bridge. (Note: TFRC did not organise the Convoy Parliament Occupation that unfortunately did not end peacefully).

Did all of this protest action have an impact? You bet it did!

Jacinda’s interview on NewsTalk ZB in March 2022 was very revealing where she admitted her Covid regret that she had lost the support of a good portion of the team of 5 million, six months ago. Six months ago just so happens to coincide with the 2nd October 2021 when TFRC and all of our supporters started to publicly stand and take to the streets. We made a visual impact that could not be ignored…every single one of the brave souls who stood with us, aided in this. While we were locked up at home, the discontent was out of sight, and out of mind for this government. But our consistent protesting and marching continually kept the issues front and centre in the public domain and political debates.

We are especially grateful for the courage and leadership of Brian Tamaki throughout this season. His presence and message polarised the nation to our advantage. He has given freedom fighters a voice in a time when MSM has turned into parliament’s propaganda machine. The personal sacrifice for him and his family has been immense, he has been unfairly treated and imprisoned, yet he’s put it all on the line and he’ll continue to stand in the ongoing fight to protect the freedoms and rights of average Kiwis. This man shows us by his actions that he genuinely cares about the people. We thank him for his leadership.

Our collective protest pressure has now caused this government to release their Covid-control sooner than most predicted. This government had no option but to buckle to growing public discontent. As countries, we are chummy with like Australia and Canada still double-down on their vaccine mandates and passes, New Zealand has surprisingly done an about-turn and released passes and some mandates already. This reveals the power our protests have truly had. Not that politicians or their lackeys will ever admit to it.

Jacinda Arden will now likely go down in history as the ‘Prime Minister of Protests.’ You’d be hard-pressed to find a prime minister who has had more protest action on their watch, than what she’s caused.

As we enter the winter months, the fight is far from over, but TFRC is now slightly changing tact. And while Jacinda keeps the threat of future lockdowns, mandates, control and passes in her back pocket, we also keep the threat of potential future mass protests in our back pocket.

Yet, something new and more powerful has also recently been birthed. Tamaki says “Born out of the fire of fighting for our freedoms, now comes the rising of The People’s Freedom Movement.” A political movement that TFRC have established that is politically agnostic. A political movement that in the coming months will challenge to the very core our political systems, politicians, and political parties.

Join us, as we the people, apply pressure to bring about even more political change.

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