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Sympathies to the victims of the massacre in New Zealand

March 19, 2019

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) extends its deepest sympathies to the victims of the massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand. We urge all the governments and the people of the world to support New Zealand’s efforts to deal with the situation on the basis of humane values and principles. The date of 15th March 2019 marks a sad day for the families of the victims of the massacre, for the people and government of New Zealand, and for people throughout the world. Gunning down people attending a prayer meeting is a most cowardly and heinous act, which needs to be condemned by all governments and peoples.

Individuals attending prayer meetings are engaged in a most innocent activity, while also expressing solidarity among themselves. They are naturally unarmed, and their sole concern is to share a moment with their creator. Shooting at such people is a most brutal act. Moreover, such attacks are not merely an attack on the victim, but against the whole nation of New Zealand, and also on humanity itself.

The manner in which New Zealand’s Prime Minister and government has acted so far on this occasion needs to be recognized as a valuable lesson in preserving basic human values and rights. The emphasis by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on the preservation of values that goes to create the nation, provides a worthy example for emulation by other countries.

The affected families deserve justice, and all the perpetrators and those who have conspired to engage in this massacre need to be brought before courts. Justice must be done in a manner ensuring victimized families believe that the nation has stood by them in this horrific time.

The reflections on the massacre must include both the short term and the long-term impact of such acts of brutality. New Zealand has been known to be a peaceful place, attracting people to live there. The spirit of reconciliation in which the indigenous people of New Zealand and the white settlers have made attempts to live together and respect each other, goes to the very heart of the making of this nation. This is now being attacked under the pretext of there being too many immigrants coming to New Zealand. Unfortunately, the Australian government’s heightened anti-refugee and anti-immigrant rhetoric also would have contributed to the mentality of individuals who want to resort to guns in dealing with immigrants.

Whether there is something more than the perpetuated anti-immigrant feelings must also be studied and reflected upon at this time. Judging from the experiences of other countries that have faced similar violence, we see that long lasting political controversies and divisions among the people can be generated by this kind of crisis.

The people and government of New Zealand must give a thought to these matters as early as possible, and prevent any negative tendencies that may arise, disturbing the finer traditions and values of the country. In particular, any descent into racism and narrow nationalism must be prevented.

The AHRC expresses solidarity with the victims, and with the people and government of New Zealand on this tragic occasion, and hopes that this tragedy will be used to strengthen the unity of the people in the country.

# # #

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking and fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in order to protect and promote human rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation is a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, 2014.


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