Monday April 22, 2019
Home Lead Story Planning A Ma...

Planning A Major Vigil And Memorial, Place to Grieve for Shaken Christchurch Residents

In Hagley Park, residents rode their bikes, jogged and walked their dogs -- all just a few hundred meters from where one of New Zealand’s deadliest peacetime shootings took place.

0
//
New Zealand
A note to the victims of Friday's mass shooting was placed alongside 50 red paper hearts near the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 18, 2019. VOA

Residents here are struggling to make sense of Friday’s attacks that took place at two mosques, claimed at least 50 lives, left an equal number wounded, nearly a dozen of whom remain in critical care.

While the city is planning a major vigil and memorial Thursday, several community-driven memorials have been erected near the mosques, parks and throughout the city, allowing places for people to grieve. These monuments also provide an opportunity for the community to offer its support to Christchurch’s small Muslim population.

Dozens of notes and flowers have been placed next to a tree a block from the Masjid Al Noor mosque, where at least 41 people were killed.

One note was accompanied by 50 red paper hearts reading, “We wish we knew your name to write upon your heart. We wished we knew your favourite song, what makes you smile, what makes you cry. We made a heart for you. 50 hearts for 50 lives. Rest in peace. William, Rosa, and Tommy.”

A student holds a flower during a vigil to commemorate victims of Friday's shooting, outside Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand March 18, 2019.
A student holds a flower during a vigil to commemorate victims of Friday’s shooting, outside Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand March 18, 2019. VOA

Kindness toward community

The words of kindness expressed in the note reflect the overall sentiment of Christchurch, and New Zealand overall, toward its Muslim population and immigrants, says Megan Van Tongerer, who was born and reared here.

She was working at a restaurant just a few kilometers from the Masjid Al Noor mosque on the day of the attack.

She told VOA that as police and other emergency vehicles raced down Bealey Avenue outside the establishment, she felt “on edge” as the horrific details emerged of the attack.

Van Tongerer and other servers at the restaurant couldn’t explain why, but the establishment became busier than it had in months in the wake of the shooting.

It was then that some people started “sharing the video [of the shooting] and cracking jokes.”

Van Tongerer said that management moved quickly to end that activity. “That’s not the kind of place we are. We didn’t want that here,” she said.

She also noted that several other customers voiced objections to people sharing the alleged attacker’s video.

“They aren’t representative of the larger community,” she said, “They’re a small part.”

Van Tongerer is unsure how the city will move forward and heal following the attack, but is adamant that it must. “If we don’t, we’re lost,” she adds.

Since Friday, more than $3.6 million, from nearly 70,000 donations, has been raised for victims of the shootings, according to Givealittle, an online donations site.

Disbelief

Maryam Allayar said she was in shock after the attack. She came to New Zealand three years ago as a refugee from Afghanistan and had always felt safe in her adopted home country.

“This always happened in Afghanistan,” she said, “So when I heard [about the attack], I was really shocked and I didn’t believe it. I didn’t believe it happened to me in New Zealand.”

Allayar, a university student, knew some of the victims, including the husband and son of a fellow classmate, and others from the school she attends.

For the past three days, she said she has been “very scared,” fearing other attacks would occur.

Allayar expressed relief, however, at the outpouring of support from the residents in Christchurch, saying she was happy that so many people are being kind.

Ann Mintram, 80, expressed similar thoughts following church services Sunday.

“Well there’s only one way to overcome it (the shooting), and that’s with love,” she told Reuters, “But at the moment, I’m feeling too numb to even feel love.”

Over the weekend, Australian Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Muslim community leaders, “This is not New Zealand. The only part of the incident and actions that we have seen over the past 24, 36 hours that is New Zealand is the support that you are seeing now. Nothing that led up to it is who we are or who this city is.”

“We need to keep having a conversation around how we ensure your ongoing safety in the aftermath of this horrific attack,” she added.

“We cannot be deterred from the work that we need to do on our gun laws in New Zealand. They need to change, regardless of what activity may or may not have happened with gun retailers. They will change,” Ardern said Sunday.

Christchurch resident Philip Smith visited one of the memorials Sunday. Speaking to Reuters news, he called Friday’s shooting “unbelievably sad.”

It’s “going to take a long time to get over this,” he added.

Not far from Masjid Al Noor mosque, a man who didn’t want to give his name said he also, was still in shock and, similar to Allayar, never thought it would happen “in a place like New Zealand.”

“The world needs more love,” he said, “It doesn’t matter what color skin you have or what religion you are. … We all bleed the same.”

Members of Muslim religious groups leave after a special blessing ceremony near the site of Friday's shooting outside the Linwood mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 18, 2019.
Members of Muslim religious groups leave after a special blessing ceremony near the site of Friday’s shooting outside the Linwood mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 18, 2019. VOA

Life resumes

Despite the tragedy, life in Christchurch continues. People resumed the workweek began on Monday. The City Council, however, warned of inevitable disruptions as the investigation continues.

Also Read: Novel ECG Method That Can Predict Heart Rhythm Using Ears

“Please be prepared for delays when traveling in and around the city today. The key areas where you are likely to encounter delays are around Hospital Corner, Linwood/Eastgate and Deans Avenue. These delays are unavoidable so please be patient and courteous,” the council warned.

In Hagley Park, residents rode their bikes, jogged and walked their dogs — all just a few hundred meters from where one of New Zealand’s deadliest peacetime shootings took place. (VOA)

Next Story

NZ’s Privacy Commissioner Labels Facebook as “Morally Bankrupt Pathological Liars”

"I have deleted the tweets promoting my discussion about Mark Zuckerberg's interview because of the volume of toxic and misinformed traffic they prompted," Edwards mentioned

0
facebook
"Facebook cannot be trusted. They are morally bankrupt pathological liars who enable genocide (Myanmar), facilitate foreign undermining of democratic institutions," Edwards tweeted. Pixabay

New Zealand’s privacy commissioner John Edwards has labelled Facebook as “morally bankrupt pathological liars” after the social media platform’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried to play down the Facebook livestreaming of Christchurch shooting that killed 50 people.

“Facebook cannot be trusted. They are morally bankrupt pathological liars who enable genocide (Myanmar), facilitate foreign undermining of democratic institutions,” Edwards tweeted late Sunday.

“(They) allow the live streaming of suicides, rapes and murders, continue to host and publish the mosque attack video, allow advertisers to target ‘Jew haters’ and other hateful market segments and refuse to accept any responsibility for any content or harm. They #DontGiveAZuck,” Edwards said in a follow-up tweet.

He later deleted the tweets, saying he was bombarded with toxic traffic on his Twitter account.

facebook
“I have deleted the tweets promoting my discussion about Mark Zuckerberg’s interview because of the volume of toxic and misinformed traffic they prompted,” Edwards mentioned. Wikimedia

According to a report in New Zealand Herald, Edwards lashed out at Zuckerberg after the Facebook CEO, during an interview at America’s ABC TV network, “poured cold water on even a slight delay for Facebook Live, saying it would ‘break’ the service which is often used for two-way communication”.

The Facebook livestreaming of the New Zealand terror attack sparked global outrage. The video was viewed over 4,000 times before it was removed. The video was later shared in millions on other social media platforms, including Twitter and YouTube.

In an interview with Radio New Zealand on Monday, Edwards said Zuckerberg’s “greater good” argument was “disingenuous” because “he can’t tell us – or won’t tell us, how many suicides are livestreamed, how many murders, how many sexual assaults”.

“I’ve asked Facebook exactly that last week and they simply don’t have those figures or won’t give them to us,” he added. Edwards also asked Facebook to hand over names of people who shared the alleged gunman’s video to NZ Police which the social media giant refused to share.

facebook
Edwards also asked Facebook to hand over names of people who shared the alleged gunman’s video to NZ Police which the social media giant refused to share. VOA

After New Zealand, Britain has gone tough on Facebook when it comes to livestreaming. Internet providers and tech giants like Facebook and Google will be compelled to remove violent content in a sweeping new law passed in Australia last week.

Under the new law, which passed both houses of Parliament, obligations will be placed on internet companies to stop the spread of violent material. Failure to do so could see executives face up to three years in jail, or fines of up to 10 per cent of the platform’s annual turnover.

ALSO READ: How Mark ‘Zucked’ Facebook and its Brand Image

Social media firms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, also face hefty fines or ban in Britain if they fail to remove harmful content quickly under new laws.

The new “duty of care” laws could even hold social media executives personally liable for terrorist and child abuse content on their platforms. (IANS)