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Over 3000 NZers speak out against US separation of families

20 June 2018

Over 3000 NZers speak out against US separation of families seeking asylum

In less than a day, more than 3000 New Zealanders have signed a petition urging the US Government to stop forcibly separating parents from their children at the border with Mexico. Amnesty International has said the practice is nothing short of torture.

Thousands are fleeing targeted violence and persecution in Central and South America, crossing the border into the US and exercising their legal right to seek asylum. International and US law both require the authorities to offer them protection. Instead, over 2000 children have been taken away from their parents, purposely traumatising families as a deterrent to others who are desperately trying to find a safe place.

Meg de Ronde, Campaigns Director at Amnesty International New Zealand, said, “We’re seeing a groundswell of compassion here in New Zealand. This has obviously touched a nerve – Kiwis are speaking out and saying it has to stop.

“These are kids we’re talking about. Families, people, just like you and me. If we found ourselves in their situations, we’d flee as well. That’s why international law has enshrined protections for people seeking asylum and refuge.

“It’s a flagrant violation of law – and ethics – for the US Government to take these children away from their parents. And New Zealanders en masse are telling these US officials that it must stop,” said de Ronde.

Through interviews at the border, Amnesty International documented extreme anguish amongst family members who had been separated. When a government seeks to compel a certain type of behaviour from an individual by inflicting serious mental or physical anguish, it constitutes torture under both international and US law.

In addition to signing the petition to stop this purposeful cruelty, New Zealanders can take action at two family-friendly events organised by Aucklander Julie Fairey. Amnesty International is supporting these vigils in front of the US Consulate in Auckland and the US Embassy in Wellington at 5pm on Friday.


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