Two reports and an apology

09/12/2020

It is natural to seek to determine who is responsible when an atrocity has occurred and to find someone to blame.

That is not always possible.

The report from the Royal Commission on the Christchurch Mosque murders found several government agencies could have done better but did not point the finger at any individuals.

However, Judith Collins is correct to point out who was responsible:

. . .“The atrocities committed on March 15, 2019 were the actions of an evil terrorist designed to spread fear and silence those who did not share his world view. But the actions of New Zealanders since then in denouncing him and what he stood for is proof that he failed. . . 

“The Opposition stands ready to work constructively with the Government to ensure sure we learn from this event and make New Zealand a safer place for all five million of us.

“Ultimately, the person responsible is the one serving a life sentence without parole. But it appears certain systems within Government could have, and should have, performed better.

Brenton Tarrant admitted committing the crimes. We will never know who the individuals in the government agencies were whose work fell short of what should have been required.

But we need to know that the required changes to fix the shortcomings are made.

“In principle, we support strengthening the role of our security and intelligence agencies but we must tread carefully to safeguard New Zealanders’ rights and liberties.

“We cannot end up sacrificing our liberal democracy, otherwise we will end up with the sort of New Zealand this terrorist was trying to create.

Among those rights and liberties are freedom of speech which must be protected.

“It is clear this terrorist should never have had a gun license and we support moves by the police to improve training and firearms licence vetting.

“But more needs to be done to get guns out of the hands of criminals, and National’s proposed Firearms Prohibition Orders are a crucial tool that we need in this fight.

“We have shown that, as a nation, we are not prepared to give into fear, we are not prepared to tolerate extreme hate, and we are not prepared to let anything like the wickedness that took place on March 15 ever happen in New Zealand again.”

No laws can ever make a country and its population 100% safe.

In addressing the shortcomings that enabled the March 15 attacks to happen the government must make sure it doesn’t over react and mistake excessive restrictions for safety.

The Royal Commission report was released yesterday. Another report has yet to be made public:

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins must immediately release the Roche/Simpson review report into our border testing systems, National’s Covid-19 Recovery spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

The Government commissioned this report under urgency in late August after its border testing systems failed spectacularly, and Chris Hipkins told Parliament today a copy of the report was sent to him on 30 September.

“The report should have been released before the election – but as we learned today in Parliament, the Government has simply sat on the report since then. The Minister would not even commit today in Parliament to releasing the report before Christmas,” Mr Bishop says.

“This is simply unacceptable. As the Minister himself said when announcing the report, ‘the Group’s formation represents another key step in our ongoing battle against Covid-19. As has been our approach from the start, we are continuously reviewing our systems and finding ways to improve. That approach will continue’.

“Getting our border response right is critical for the future of this country. With businesses closing down and Kiwis losing their jobs, we can’t afford to waste time not considering this report.”

It was also revealed in Parliament today that the Ministry of Health disagrees with elements of the report.

“The suspicion must be that the Ministry has spent the time since 30 September fighting to stop the report being released and trying to change the findings of the independent panel.

“There is now even more reason for the report to be released without any changes that may be insisted on by the Ministry of Health. The Government appointed these independent reviewers and the public deserves to see their findings.”

The mosque murders were atrocious but another terror attack is a remote possibility. Community transmission of Covid-19 owing to holes in the border is much more likely.

Whether or not the MoH agrees with the report, the review was done by independent people and not only do we have a right to know what their findings are, we need to know so we can be be sure that any issues it highlights are addressed.

While we await the release of the report, we have had an apology:

Parliament’s Speaker Trevor Mallard has apologised for comments he made last year claiming a rapist was working on the premises.

He made the remarks on RNZ shortly after the release of a report which revealed frequent bullying and harassment at Parliament.

Mallard later told reporters a staffer had been stood down and a “threat to the safety of women” removed.

In a statement released today, Mallard said it was “incorrect” of him to give the impression the man had been accused of rape “as that term is defined in the Crimes Act 1961”.

Mallard had provided a personal apology to the man for the “distress and humiliation” caused to the worker and his family, the statement said.

“Both parties consider this matter is now closed and no further comment will be made.” . . 

There is no mention of compensation for the worker who lost his job and we’re very unlikely to find out how much he received.

It will have been made by Parliamentary Services which is not subject to Official Information Act requirements.

One report has been released, another has not and we’ll almost certainly never know how much Mallard’s loose lips have cost us. And quelle surprise, his apology was announced when all attention was on the Royal Commission’s report. Given this is an open and transparent government, that would just be an unfortunate coincidence, wouldn’t it?


Separation saved women

25/03/2019

The roll call of the 50 victims of the Christchurch mosque terror attacks show 46 men and four women.

 

The Muslim requirement for women to worship in a separate space from men cost the lives of more men and fewer women.

That isn’t an argument in  favour of discrimination or of women’s dependence.

The deaths of husbands has left some women desperately wondering how they’ll manage:

Widows of the mosque shooting victims are struggling in the wake of the attack. Some of the women needing support can’t drive and don’t hold jobs.

Shakti, a group helping women, has identified 13 families so far where women now facing life as sole providers. Some of them are very young, with young children and new to the country.

Shakti councillor Shila Nair says some women don’t hold a current license, making ordinary tasks more difficult.

“That kind of increases their difficulty by quantum leaps actually because driving is very essential to get to the shops and other places,” she told Newshub.

Others have been in co-dependent relationships and are struggling with everyday tasks. Nair says she visited a widow who doesn’t know how she will adapt.

“She told me, ‘How do I manage? Because I’ve never even gone out and done shopping on my own.'” . . 

The outpouring of aroha and sympathy and the show of compassion in the face of evil and tragedy have been heartwarming but most of us are already turning back  to our normal lives.

But normal isn’t normal any more for the families of victims.

ACC will provide some financial assistance but the women who have been left without husbands will need more practical help.


John Oliver – NZ

23/03/2019

John Oliver often pokes fun at New Zealand, this time he pays a tribute:


Broken-hearted not broken

22/03/2019

The Spinnoff has an abridged transcript of the speech delivered by Al Noor Mosque Iman Gamal Fouda of  in Christchurch this afternoon.

Last Friday I stood in this mosque and saw hatred and rage in the eyes of the terrorist who killed 50 people, wounded 48 and broke the hearts of millions around the world. Today, from the same place I look out and I see the love and compassion in the eyes of thousands of fellow New Zealanders and human beings from across the globe who fill the hearts of millions.

The terrorist tried to tear the nation apart with evil ideology. Instead we have shown that New Zealand is unbreakable. And that the world can see injustice an example of love and unity.

We are brokenhearted but we are not broken.

We are determined to not let anyone divide us.

We are determined to love one another and to support each other. This evil ideology of white supremacy did not strike us first, yet it has struck us hardest. But the solidarity in New Zealand is extraordinary.

To the families of the victims, your loved ones did not die in vain. Their blood has watered the seeds of hope. . .

Our loss of you is a gain to New Zealand’s unity. Your departure is an awakening not just for our nation, but for all humanity. Your martyrdom is a new life for New Zealand and a chance of prosperity for many. Our assembly here, with all the shades of our diversity, is a testament of our giant humanity.

We are here in our hundreds and thousands, unified for one purpose. That hate will be undone, and love will redeem us. . .

We don’t have to share others’ faith, to worship as they do, to believe what they do.

But we must be unified in our resolve to undo the hate and be redeemed by love.


We can be grateful

22/03/2019

We can be grateful that, by and large, the response to last week’s massacre has been the opposite of what the killer intended – unity instead of division.

We can be grateful that Muslims in Christchurch and the wider New Zealand Muslim community reacted with forgiveness and inclusiveness.

We can be grateful that by and large, the horror of last week’s massacre has been met with compassion here and overseas.

We can be grateful that, by and large, the response from politicians has been appropriate and non-partisan.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern invited Opposition leader Simon Bridges to accompany her to Christchurch on her first visit, following the example set by then-PM John Key who invited the then-Labour leader to accompany him to the city after the earthquakes.

Since then the PM has shown compassion, empathy and resolve and the Opposition leader has offered support when it’s been appropriate but otherwise left her to it, as he should.

We can be grateful that the changes to gun laws announced are reasonable.

We can be grateful that today those who choose to can observe a two-minute silence in honour of the 50 people who died.

We can be grateful that this will provide a prompt to the media to reduce the saturation coverage so they don’t cross the line from news to voyeurism.


Why not monitor to secure?

19/03/2019

I had consulted Professor Google while planning a trip.

Shortly afterwards I was on Facebook and among the posts from friends were advertisements for accommodation and things to do at the location I’d Googled.

If Facebook and Google have algorithms that can do that, surely they can have algorithms to monitor, and act on, posts like those of the gunman who allegedly killed 50 people in Christchurch, which ought to have raised multiple red flags.

If they can monitor to sell, why not monitor to secure?

If it’s not invading our privacy to match our searches with sellers, it can’t be invading privacy to monitor searches for security alerts.

Targeted advertising makes money, monitoring for danger won’t but it should be part of these companies’ social responsibility.


They should have been safe here

18/03/2019

The 50 people who were killed and the others who were injured should have been safe at prayer in New Zealand.

Stuff has a time line of the massacre and names and short bios of those who were killed.

Some were Kiwis, some were immigrants, some were refugees.

All were people like us, people who should have been safe here.


Quote of the day

17/03/2019

Image result for quotes terrorism

With guns you can kill terrorists, with education you can kill terrorism. – Malala Yousafzai


NZ in mourning

16/03/2019

Image result for nz flag half mast

Flags across the country are at half mast as New Zealand mourns the massacre of at least 49 people.

  • There have been two attacks – at the Masjid Al Noor Mosque next to Hagley Park, and at the Linwood Masjid Mosque in the suburb of Linwood.
  • Forty-nine people have died, police have confirmed. 41 at Deans Ave mosque and seven at the Linwood mosque. One person who had been injured has since died.
  • A 28-year-old man has been charged with murder and is due to appear in the Christchurch District Court tomorrow morning.
  • Three others are in custody, but one of these people is not thought to be connected to shootings. But police warn there could be more offenders. . .

Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy said:

Today’s tragic events in Christchurch have shocked all New Zealanders.

Our hearts go out to the people of Christchurch, especially the people directly affected by this afternoon’s terrible violence. Our thoughts are with them, their families and friends.

Now more than ever is the time to affirm the values that we hold dear – compassion, kindness and tolerance.

I have no doubt that all New Zealanders join with me in expressing their condolences and support.

New Zealand has long been regarded as one of the safest countries in the world.

Terrorism was, until yesterday, something that happened somewhere else.

Now it has happened in Christchurch, killing people peacefully at prayer, people to whom New Zealand was home, people who should have been safe here.

For the first time New Zealand’s terror alert is at high.

The earthquakes that rocked the city were acts of nature.

These killings were acts of evil that will leaves scars and change our country forever.

 

 


Evil strikes in Christchurch

15/03/2019

A massacre in at least one Christchurch mosque is an act of evil.


12/9 or 9/11

12/09/2018

It was the 12th of September (12/9) in New Zealand, September 11(9/11) in the USA.

Whatever the date, it is one of a handful in living memory that most people will know and recall where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news of the terror attacks in the USA. .

I woke to hear my farmer saying “It’s falling.”

I thought he meant the share market until I opened my eyes and watched in horror as the planes flew into the towers, wondering if it was real.

It was and it changed the world.


130 Muslim leaders refuse to perform prayer for London attackers

08/06/2017

More than 130 Imans and religious leaders have refused to perform a funeral prayer for the London attackers:

Muslim Imams and religious leaders condemn the Manchester and London terror atrocities and urge fellow Imams to refuse to perform Islamic funeral prayers for the terrorists

“We, as Muslim Imams and religious leaders, condemn the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London in the strongest terms possible. Coming from a range of backgrounds, and from across the UK; feeling the pain the rest of the nation feels, we have come together to express our shock and utter disgust at these cold-blooded murders.

We are deeply hurt that a spate of terror attacks have been committed in our country once more by murderers who seek to gain religious legitimacy for their actions. We seek to clarify that their reprehensible actions have neither legitimacy nor our sympathy.

Though at no time is it acceptable, that such ruthless violence was perpetrated during the season of Ramadan, in which Muslims worldwide focus on pious devotion, prayer, charity and the cultivation of good character, demonstrates how utterly misguided and distant the terrorists are from our faith and the contempt which they hold for its values.

Alongside our friends and neighbours, we mourn this attack on our home, society and people, and feel pain for the suffering of the victims and their families. We pray to God that the perpetrators be judged in accordance with the gravity of their crimes in the hereafter. Their acts and wilful dismissal of our religious principles alienates them from any association with our community for whom the inviolability of every human life is the founding principle (Q.5:32).

Consequently, and in light of other such ethical principles which are quintessential to Islam, we will not perform the traditional Islamic funeral prayer for the perpetrators and we also urge fellow imams and religious authorities to withdraw such a privilege. This is because such indefensible actions are completely at odds with the lofty teachings of Islam.

These vile murderers seek to divide our society and instil fear; we will ensure they fail. We implore everyone to unite: we are one community. In the face of such dastardly cowardice, unlike the terrorists, we must uphold love and compassion.

Such criminals defile the name of our religion and of our Prophet, who was sent to be a mercy to all creation.

We commend our police and emergency services – with whom we stand shoulder to shoulder – for their rapid response, arriving at the scenes while risking their own lives to protect the victims and public. Their response exemplifies the courage, humanity and honour we must exhibit in such difficult times.

We pray for peace and unity, and for all the victims of terror both at home and across the globe, who are targeted, irrespective of their faith.”

This is a an unprescedented, and welcome, move.

I don’t pretend to know, or understand, much about Islam.

But terrorist attacks and the people who perpetrate them in the name of the faith are as abhorrent to the few Muslims I know as they are to people of other faiths and no faith at all.


More than enough

06/06/2017

UK Prime Minister Theresa May says enough is enough.

Enough is enough. My response to last night’s brutal terror attack:
“Last night, our country fell victim to a brutal terrorist attack once again. As a result I have just chaired a meeting of the government’s emergency committee and I want to update you with the latest information about the attack.
Shortly before 10:10 yesterday evening, the Metropolitan Police received reports that a white van had struck pedestrians on London Bridge.
It continued to drive from London Bridge to Borough Market, where 3 terrorists left the van and attacked innocent and unarmed civilians with blades and knives.
All 3 were wearing what appeared to be explosive vests, but the police have established that this clothing was fake and worn only to spread panic and fear.
As so often in such serious situations, the police responded with great courage and great speed. Armed officers from the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police arrived at Borough Market within moments, and shot and killed the 3 suspects.
The terrorists were confronted and shot by armed officers within 8 minutes of the police receiving the first emergency call.
Seven people have died as a result of the attack, in addition to the 3 suspects shot dead by the police. Forty-eight people are being treated in several hospitals across London. Many have life-threatening conditions.
On behalf of the people of London, and on behalf of the whole country, I want to thank and pay tribute to the professionalism and bravery of the police and the emergency services – and the courage of members of the public who defended themselves and others from the attackers.
And our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and with their friends, families and loved ones.
This is, as we all know, the third terrorist attack Britain has experienced in the last 3 months. In March, a similar attack took place, just around the corner on Westminster Bridge.
Two weeks ago, the Manchester Arena was attacked by a suicide bomber. And now London has been struck once more.
And at the same time, the security and intelligence agencies and police have disrupted 5 credible plots since the Westminster attack in March.
In terms of their planning and execution, the recent attacks are not connected. But we believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face, as terrorism breeds terrorism, and perpetrators are inspired to attack not only on the basis of carefully-constructed plots after years of planning and training – and not even as lone attackers radicalised online – but by copying one another and often using the crudest of means of attack.
We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are. Things need to change, and they need to change in 4 important ways.
First, while the recent attacks are not connected by common networks, they are connected in one important sense. They are bound together by the single, evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division, and promotes sectarianism.
It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam. It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth.
Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time. But it cannot be defeated through military intervention alone. It will not be defeated through the maintenance of a permanent, defensive counter-terrorism operation, however skilful its leaders and practitioners.
It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence – and make them understand that our values – pluralistic, British values – are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate.
Second, we cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet – and the big companies that provide internet-based services – provide.
We need to work with allied, democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorist planning. And we need to do everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online.
Third, while we need to deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online, we must not forget about the safe spaces that continue to exist in the real world.
Yes, that means taking military action to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. But it also means taking action here at home. While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country.
So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out – across the public sector and across society.
That will require some difficult and often embarrassing conversations, but the whole of our country needs to come together to take on this extremism – and we need to live our lives not in a series of separated, segregated communities but as one truly United Kingdom.
Fourth, we have a robust counter-terrorism strategy that has proved successful over many years. But as the nature of the threat we face becomes more complex, more fragmented, more hidden, especially online, the strategy needs to keep up.
So in light of what we are learning about the changing threat, we need to review Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy to make sure the police and security services have all the powers they need.
And if we need to increase the length of custodial sentences for terrorism-related offences, even apparently less serious offences, that is what we will do.
Since the emergence of the threat from Islamist-inspired terrorism, our country has made significant progress in disrupting plots and protecting the public.
But it is time to say enough is enough. Everybody needs to go about their lives as they normally would. Our society should continue to function in accordance with our values. But when it comes to taking on extremism and terrorism, things need to change.
As a mark of respect the 2 political parties have suspended our national campaigns for today. But violence can never be allowed to disrupt the democratic process. So those campaigns will resume in full tomorrow. And the general election will go ahead as planned on Thursday.
As a country, our response must be as it has always been when we have been confronted by violence. We must come together, we must pull together, and united we will take on and defeat our enemies.”

One random attack on innocent people was more than enough.

Tolerance for different beliefs has limits.

It can’t extend to those who have no respect for the law, liberty and lives, their own or those of other people.

And let’s not forget that while the focus here is on London and Manchester because they’re people like us, terror attacks hurt and kill people in places like Jakarta and Baghdad.


Terror in Nice

15/07/2016

The Charlie Hebdo attack, in January last year,  the November 13 killings in Paris and now scores of people have been killed and others injured in Nice:

A lorry has struck a crowd after Bastille Day celebrations in the southern French city of Nice, killing at least 80 people and injuring dozens, officials say.

It happened on the famous Promenade des Anglais after a firework display. The driver was shot dead and guns and grenades were found inside the lorry.

President Francois Hollande said the attack was of a “terrorist nature”.

He said he was extending a state of emergency by three months.

France had been on high alert following last November’s attacks in Paris in which 130 people died and hundreds were wounded.

The state of emergency had been due to end on 26 July.

“France is badly hit,” Mr Hollande said, adding that “we need to do everything we can to fight against” such attacks.

“All of France is under the threat of Islamic terrorism.” . . 

These actions are the antithesis of liberty which Bastille Day celebrates.


Security agencies foil terror attack

18/09/2014

Australian police have arrested suspected terrorists in Sydney and Brisbane:

A SERIES of anti-terrorism raids were sparked by intelligence reports that Islamic State supporters were planning a public execution in Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says.

Details of the planned attack have emerged in the wake of the biggest anti-terrorism operation in Australia’s history, involving hundreds of police officers in co-ordinated raids across Sydney and Brisbane this morning.

Mr Abbott was briefed on the police raid on Wednesday night, which included intelligence that public beheadings were planned. “The exhortations, quite direct exhortations, were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country,” he told reporters.

“So this is not just suspicion, this is intent and that’s why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have.”

LIVE UPDATES: Terror raids

NSW Police will allege that some of the Sydney men arrested in the operation had communicated with the Islamic State organisation while developing their alleged plan to seize a random member of the public and behead them live on camera. . . .

Some comments on the raids:

    1:41pm: Labor leader Bill Shorten is holding a press conference about the terror raids.

“The raids will no doubt come as a shock to many Australians.”

“It does remind us that the threat of terror can actually occur on our shores.”

“The reports of what these people were allegedly preparing are truly shocking.”

“Australians should be reassured by the capabilities of our security agencies. People should be reassured that our [agencies] are able to do their job before bad things happen to people.”

He said four major terrorist attacks planned on Australian soil had been disrupted since 2003 with the participants convicted and jailed. . .

 

12:44pm: NSW Premier Mike Baird said the alleged plot, to behead a person on the streets of Sydney, was “undoubtedly horrifying”.

“But I want to pay absolute … thanks to the authorities that have done their job,” he said.

“We want to say to the community: be assured, the actions [today] show that every single effort will be made to ensure that we are safe.”

12:42pm: NSW Premier Mike Baird is holding a press conference about the anti-terrorism raids.

He warned those who wanted to harm the community that “we will hunt you down”.

“To those that think they may be operating in dark corners, we are shining the light upon you,” he said.

 

This puts into perspective what Prime Minister John Key said last night:

New Zealanders face real threats and as Prime Minister of New Zealand I can either choose to walk away from protecting New Zealanders or do my job. I will never walk away from protecting New Zealanders.

If we ever lived in a benign strategic environment we don’t now and that is why security agencies must have the powers they need to protect us.

 


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