To people of refugee background living in Aotearoa...

5 September 2021, 18:02 UTC |

Following the shocking terror attack on Friday we must stand alongside each other, with aroha, respect and compassion. 

We would like to acknowledge the victims of Friday’s attack and their whānau as they find their way through such a terrifying experience.  
 
And to people of refugee background living in Aotearoa – this letter is to you. 

---

To people of refugee background living in Aotearoa,  

We want to acknowledge that once again part of your identity is being splashed around headlines. We want to acknowledge that once again, a label that indicates you had the bravery to survive is being used to isolate you. 

As former refugees we acknowledge you already face prejudice, and that following Friday it may get worse. We will do everything we can, along with other community and civil society groups to prevent further harm to your communities as a result of this terror attack and the decision by Government to ensure immediate release of suppressed information. We will continue to work to ensure people who need safety can seek it and that punitive measures aren’t rushed through here in Aotearoa.

We had hoped the words of compassion that were uttered after the 2019 mosque attack were genuine. They are genuine to us. Everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand, no matter their background, has a right to their own religion, beliefs, peaceful self-expression. We all have a right to be free from harm, discrimination and to life itself.   

We acknowledge that your very right to be here will feel like it has to be justified all over again. You don’t have to justify your right to safety or apologise for the actions of an individual. 

The Government has expressed their frustration at the drawn-out legal aspects of the attacker's immigration status. A country like Aotearoa New Zealand must have a robust legal system and the opportunity for appeal. But even the best law and process may not work if it is underfunded and under-resourced. Even the best systems will have those that abuse them. Usually, the people who are facing these distressing, drawn-out processes of an underfunded system are people who have fled here, vulnerable and needing protection.  

We condemn terrorism, violent acts and all abuses of human rights. We also condemn moves to isolate, divide or marginalise communities. We stand with our friends and colleagues from refugee backgrounds and with all people working to make our country inclusive and safe.  

With aroha,  

Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand  

---
This letter has also been shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.