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“Saw Blood Flowing Like A River”: Survivor Recounts New Zealand Mosque Attacks

“New Zealand is a peaceful place, and we have never seen anything like this before,” he said. “Migrants are now getting help — more than anytime before — and showing us support and strength.”

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Paper links are draped over the fence at Hagley Park near one of the mosques were more than 40 people were killed in Christchurch, March 15, 2019. (S. Miller/VOA). VOA

Abdulkadir Ababora was sitting in the front row of a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, last week when a 28-year-old Australian gunman opened fire during Friday prayers.

Fifty worshipers were killed in the March 15 attacks in two mosques, and the gunman appeared intent of taking as many lives as possible.

“Those who were hit with the automatic weapons fell, and he went and checked those who were breathing and started shooting at those who were already on the ground,” Abdulkadir told VOA’s Afaan Oromoo service.

Abdulkadir, meanwhile, lay under a bookshelf, pretending to be dead.

“I pulled the Quranic bookshelf on top of me to hide my head under and held my breath so that he didn’t detect I was alive,” Abdulkadir said.

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to the media during a Post Cabinet media press conference at Parliament in Wellington on March 18, 2019. VOA

The kinds of weapons used in the attack are now banned in the country. New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced Thursday that the government would outlaw “military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles,” effective immediately.

Abdulkadir said he “saw blood flowing like a river” as bullets pierced victims in his mosque.

“I didn’t think it was real, and I thought it was something out of a cinema or a movie,” he added.

Originally from Ethiopia, Abdulkadir now works as a taxi driver in New Zealand. He left his wife, who gave birth two weeks ago, at home and his other children at school before heading to the mosque that ill-fated day.

“I am not sure if he passed me thinking I was dead, but he shot those who were on my left and right,” Abdulkadir said. “All I was thinking about was my wife and my three children. … I was thinking that it was going to be my turn, and I lost hope at the moment.”

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Students embrace at a floral tribute at the Botanical Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 19, 2019. VOA

Victims’ families have begun receiving their loved ones’ bodies. On Tuesday, six victims’ bodies were returned to families, according to police, and the rest will soon get a place to rest. The victims included refugees from Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan, along with other people seeking refuge.

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Mike Bush, New Zealand’s commissioner of police, said Thursday that all of the victims have been identified and their families notified, earlier saying, “this is for us an absolute priority for family reasons, for compassionate reasons and for cultural reasons.” Among those killed was 3-year-old Mucaad Ibrahim, the youngest victim of the attacks.

Despite the attacks and ongoing islamophobic sentiments, Abdulkadir remains hopeful.

“New Zealand is a peaceful place, and we have never seen anything like this before,” he said. “Migrants are now getting help — more than anytime before — and showing us support and strength.” (VOA)

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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

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"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.

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“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.

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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.

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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)