- Forty people been killed and 20 injured in a terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, which occurred during afternoon prayers.
- Three people – one of them an Australian-born man – are in custody.
- It was described as “a terrorist attack” by NZ prime minister Jacinda Ardern, and an “extremist, right-wing violent terrorist [attack]” by Australian prime minister Scott Morrison.
- Christchurch remains on lockdown.
- Ardern said: “Many directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here…They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not.”
- The attacker is believed to have livestreamed at least one of the attacks. Police urged people not to share the “distressing” footage, which many Australian news outlets ignored.
The New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, reiterated the police’s plea in a later media conference.
“We should not be perpetuating, sharing, giving any oxygen to this act of violence and the message that is sitting behind it,” Ardern said. “What all of us can at least do is ensure that we do not share, spread or actively engage in that message of hate. We have been given assurance that … at least those platforms where some of those images have been shared, are actively being removed. But I just ask people, don’t share them.”
Australia’s opposition leader, Bill Shorten, also urged people not to watch or share the footage.
“I found the advice of the New Zealand police force to be particularly wise,” he said.
“They have said, and I agree, do not allow this evil into our lives. Do not share the footage. Do not watch the footage. This is not part of normal life.”
“Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the community affected by this horrendous act,” Facebook executive for Australia and New Zealand, Mia Garlick, said.
“New Zealand police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the live-stream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video.
“We’re also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we’re aware. We will continue working directly with New Zealand police as their response and investigation continues.”
The apparent manifesto of the shooter, which has been removed from his social media accounts, was shared by several media outlets, including ABC News, which read out an excerpt.
The attacks at first glance appear to be nativist. At least one of those arrested is described as “Australian-born”. If the attackers indeed prove to be have been born and bred in Australia and New Zealand then it would seem they very much are “us”.
The Australian opposition leader cautions citizens not to watch footage of the attacks, as they are “evil” and “this is not part of normal life.”
Needless to say, this is all quite chilling. A very few huge corporations control worldwide access to the dissemination of political messages. Those corporations immediately respond to government requests for assistance with censorship.
I cannot read the words of the shooters, to learn what they believe they are doing. I cannot read the words of anyone who supports them, or even know of any support which exists.
I am left with “knowing” dozens of people have been killed. The Australian prime minister tells me the attackers are “extremist, right-wing”. How can I make any sort of assessment of this myself? How can I even decide what I consider to be “right-wing” if discussion of a spectrum is wholly controlled by the state and media corporations?
My only channel for an explanation of who the actors are and what their motivation was is the state which both disowns the attackers and cautions citizens not to access or disseminate information that is not state-sanctioned.