Nearly 4,000 people gathered in central Auckland yesterday in a brilliant display of solidarity with the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks, and in opposition to racism, Islamophobia and fascism.
The march, organised by Love Aotearoa Hate Racism, began in Aotea Square, with the names of the victims of March 15’s mosque shootings read out by Bosnian refugee and trade union activist Hana Obradović. This was followed by a two-minute silence before the march moved off up Queen Street. The mood was defiant and energetic, with chants of “when migrant lives are under attack, stand up fight back!” and “the people, united, will never be defeated!” Up the front were a mix of flags and banners representing tangata whenua, the Migrant Workers Association, Dayenu: NZ Jews Against the Occupation, several unions including Unite, FIRST, E tū, and NZNO, and two political organisations, Socialist Aotearoa and Organise Aotearoa.
The sea of white placards poured into Victoria Park, where crowds sat to hear a solid lineup of speakers.
Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson called the shooting “a watershed moment” which had sparked much-needed conversation about racism in this country. “We have to stand against racism, but we can’t go back to the Aotearoa which allows this racism to stand,” she said.
Love Aotearoa Hate Racism co-founder Joe Carolan said that, although the shootings were the deed of one gunman, the attack is the “tragic consequence” of New Zealand’s failure to address racism.
“This has given confidence to fascist elements here and overseas, culminating in last week’s tragic and harrowing outcome.
Anu Kaloti of the Migrant Workers Association delivered a moving poem she had written ‘I Can’t Sleep’, calling on New Zealanders to not rest until racism is defeated. Other speakers included Māori activist Joe Trinder, Rachel Macintosh of the Council of Trade Unions, investigative journalist Nicky Hager, Mike Treen from Global Peace and Justice Auckland, Jasmine Ali from Melbourne Stand Together Against Racism, Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition Sydney, and Elliot Crossan from Socialist Aotearoa. Representatives from the Federation of Islamic Associations NZ and Masjid e Umar spoke on behalf of the Muslim community, and there was a powerful speech from the NZ Palestine Solidarity Network.
Such a display of people power is a true demonstration of how we can both prevent fringe far-right groups from growing and spreading their hateful ideology, and show the majority of people in Aotearoa that casual racism is no longer socially acceptable. When communities stand together, we can truly transform the country. Join and donate to Love Aotearoa Hate Racism to help us build the fight — this is just the beginning!
By Maria Hoyle, freelance journalist
Photos by Bruce Crossan