A week after the Christchurch mosque attacks, thousands of people mobilised in Auckland for the “Love Aotearoa, hate racism” rally on March 24.
A number of speakers addressed the rally, including Mike Treen, national director of Unite Union and Global Peace and Justice.
“We need to organise, we need to connect,” Treen told the rally. “Not just on an individual level to challenge every racist that we come across … not just on an individual level to speak up when we need to speak up. We need to connect, we need to organise in our churches, in our unions, in our schools, in our universities, in every institution, so we can create a movement, a connectedness, holding hands together so we can take responsibility for protecting ourselves … for protecting Muslims.
“We can’t rely on the spy agencies, we can’t rely on governments, we can’t rely on institutions that are biased against us. We have to take responsibility to protect ourselves and to change New Zealand into a society where there is equality.
“When we have social solutions to social questions, equal access to all resources, an end to the growing and evil inequality that exists in society, then we can create a world where we have peace here in Aotearoa and peace in the world.”
Joe Carolan, co-founder of the Love Aotearoa, Hate Racism (LAHR) coalition, told the Asia Pacific Report: “While the shooting at the mosques was the deed of one gunman, the attack is the tragic consequence of Aotearoa’s failure to address racism within its midst.
“In contrast to the picture of ‘a peaceful, harmonious, tolerant’ society painted over the past week, Aotearoa for too long has seen the scapegoating of migrants and refugees, with mainstream politicians blaming immigration for our housing and economic crisis.
“This has given confidence to fascist elements here and overseas, culminating in last week’s tragic and harrowing outcome.”
LAHR is a coalition of unions, community and migrant groups, which was formed last July in response to attempts by the far right to promote Islamophobic, anti-migrant and anti-refugee politics in New Zealand.