What Does A Just, Safe Aotearoa Look Like?

E rere ngā roimata mamae aroha,
Te tangi a te ngākau kua haehaetia e te aroha mōu,
Taku tūngāne, taku tuakana, taku taina.
Koutou e tū mai nei i te papa mākū i te marangai,
Koutou kua koroewetia i te pō
Te Pō uriuri, Te Pō tango-tango
E rere ngā roimata, e rere, e rere.

E rere, e te whānau kua riro atu ki te pō.
Tāne ma,
Wāhine ma,
Tamariki,
Koroua,
Kuia.
Haere hoki atu ra ki o tini whanaunga ki tua o te arai, e tatari ana mō koutou.
Ngā ringa kua tūwhera atu, ngā karanga pōhiri, ngā whatu piataata i te aroha.
E rere ki te taha o tō koutou Kaihanga, a Allah, okioki ai i tōna aroha, i tōna korōria.
As-salāmu ʿalaykum

Our tears flow,
Our hearts hewn by our anguish for you,
My brother, my sister,
Standing on soil sodden with tears
Folded over in grief, in this darkness
In the darkness that swirls
In the darkness that takes
Let the tears flow.

Return as a family, the spirits that have been received into the night,
Men
Women
Children
Elders
Return to your loved multitudes who wait beyond the veil for you
Arms outstretched,
voices calling you,
eyes ashine in love for you,
Return to the side of your creator Allah, to rest in his love and glory
Peace be upon you.

flower

The vigils for our slain Muslim whānau in Ōtautahi are rolling out across the country. The numbers are a force of aroha, a tide of emotion for what has occurred, and this is only right. It’s only right that we grieve together right now, and support our whānau through this time. The government’s care and support of our Muslim whānau has (to all media accounts) been appropriate, and there have been promises for changes to prevent this happening again. So far those changes are in the form of gun laws – but for many others, we know that changing the gun laws are just the very first step in what is needed to prevent racial hatred, and for us to feel safe again.

lammia

There are so many layers to this issue, and it’s important at times like this to remember there is a hierarchy of opinion, and we must amplify Muslim voices here as the community primarily attacked. I have really appreciated the reflections coming from our Muslim and refugee whānau here, in Australia, in the Middle East and on Great Turtle Island.

anjum
Please, please share and support Anjum

Anjum Rahman has been a long time leader of the Muslim community here in Aotearoa and I can’t overstate my admiration for the work she has put in over the years. Please, please share her voice – people need to understand that our government, and the past government, have actively refused to confront Islamophobia and white supremacy, and instead have vilified the most vulnerable – a practice which, as you will see below, is all too common in Aotearoa.

This piece by Randa Abdel-Fattah has made some very salient connections between the treatment of Muslim, and immigrant whanau, and the treatment of Indigenous peoples, by settler colonial governments.

And I agree – you want a readout on how governments will treat their refugees and immigrants – observe how they have treated their first nation.

Settler colonialism may primarily impact Indigenous peoples, but it rests within a mindset of white supremacy that harms all communities of colour. Many Māori understand this, and it has been the underpinning of the strong Māori support for  Palestine, and for our refugee and immigrant communities. That support remains today. Indeed, there has never been a more important time to talk about our interconnected realities of Māori, Muslim, and refugees, in Aotearoa.

I cannot imagine the depth of pain that you are going through, my Muslim brothers and sisters. The trauma of our own slaughters have receded to rest in our bones and memories. But I can grieve with you, and stand in complete solidarity with you. I will karakia (pray) for you, for your loved ones. I will hold you in my heart – and most importantly I will continue to fight for our country to be a safer place for you, for us all. I wish I could hold faith that this will be the white light to bring justice to our nation, as called for in the prayers of Imam Nizam ul haq Thanvi.

My lived experience in this nation, however, leads me to agree with Lamia Imam, in her article above:

“Today, we are united in our grief and everyone is saying all the right things. By next year we will forget, and small racist incidents will go unnoticed by the media and the police.”

Indeed, you can be assured – not everyone who grieves and prays with us this week, will be ready to effect change, even next week.

But we, Tangata Whenua will, my brothers and sisters. We will continue to call for change. We will continue to call for an end to the killings at the hands of white supremacists that we have been experiencing from, well, for 250 years now, since the moment James Cook arrived here and slaughtered our ancestors.
muslimmarae
We will be with you, in prayer, we will support you in grief. We will continue to stand with you in demanding change.

We are will continue our march to ensure that the violence ends –

That of the gun, or any other weapon. That of the spoken word. That of the government policy and legislation.

Ironically, many of us who will stand with you on these issues are, like you, surveilled and placed on terrorist watchlists by the NZ government, often for standing up to the oil industry in our lands, or US imperial militarism on our waters. This does not dissuade our call for Aotearoa to address our white supremacy and racial injustice.

Like NZ’s 2002 Suppression of Terrorism Act – that was borne of the US “War on Terrorism” after 9/11. Signed off by Helen Clark, and utilised to surveil, stalk, and ultimately invade Māori communities. Used to board children’s buses with automatic weapons and balaclavas. Used to lock families in sheds, drag elders out onto the street barely clothed, and terrorise the defenders of Maori and environmental rights up and down the country. All charges of terrorism were eventually dropped (not before ruining many lives), and all the while, NZ Police ignored the armed white supremacist militia groups in Christchurch.

rwr

Yes, we were highlighting, and decrying white supremacy and calling for change back then. Our government responded by calling our own people terrorists, surveiling them, attacking them and their communities, charging them with bogus offences, and maligning them in the media.

Mind you – this experience can also be traced back to the 1863 Suppression of Rebellion Act, where our ancestors who spoke out against invading forces (or indeed were just inconveniently located on land desired by a settler) were labelled rebels, imprisoned without trial, and sent away to prison camps, their land confiscated and given to settlers.

It can, of course, be traced back even further, as mentioned above, to the arrival of James Cook, and his entitlement to take our lives, should we stand up to him in his duty of applying one of the ultimate white supremacist international legal concepts – the Doctrine of Christian Discovery.

Māori still decry these instances of brutal white supremacy today (just as I will expect us to decry the Christchurch massacres for the next century and beyond) – far from supporting us, though – the government is investing $25million to memorialize the murderer in nationwide events and a national curriculum.

We still decry the Suppression of Rebellion Act, and Rangiaowhia, and all of the injustice of the Land Wars, and in the settlement of this country – do we get millions of dollars and a national curriculum so that future generations can learn about the fact that this very nation is built upon injustice, including massacres, by white supremacists?

No. When we call for justice – we are criminalised,

While white supremacists are memorialised.

So you see, our work to heal and protect our nation from racism began some time ago – and we have continually been thwarted by previous governments, and by this government, and even by our local governments.

I have to come back to Anjum again, at this point:

At least five years of solid government engagement across a National-led and then a Labour-led government. We begged and pleaded, we demanded. We knocked on every door we could, we spoke at every forum we were invited to.

At a major security conference in February 2018, Aliya challenged the sector: if you can spend so much on surveilling our community, why can you not spend on preventative programmes?

I just don’t see how the government is going to address this. Gun control is a necessary start but it doesn’t deal to the deeply rooted racism that all communities of colour have called the government’s attention to for a long time.

Solutions won’t come from this government’s racist police force – where you are 3 times more likely to be arrested and 11 times more likely to be remanded in custody if you are Māori. Not from the racist immigration system that profiles people using harmful Middle Eastern stereotypes. Not from the justice system that is four times more likely to convict and seven times more likely to imprison a brown person. Not from the health system that is more likely to let a brown baby die, or the social system that is far more likely to just take your brown baby away.

Brown lives have historically not spurred our government to action. Not when they are our people in their courtrooms, not when they are our people in their prisons. Brown lives have not mattered to them when they are our children. Brown lives have not even mattered to them when they are babies.

How can this government possibly be equipped to deal with such deeply entrenched racism and Islamophobia? It cannot stop carrying out genocide through the taking of our children. It refuses to educate our future generations about the foundational white supremacy of our nation. It refuses to effectively investigate it within its own ranks. Indeed – it is borne of it.

loose_thread

And let’s be clear – any racism assessment worth its salt, would ultimately point out that the very fabric of our government is white supremacy – and that it simply cannot pretend to be facing it’s own complicitness with white supremacy whilst enforcing colonial law on Māori land, without Māori consent.

Someone needs to explain to me how a government so deeply entrenched in racism at every level, is meant to save us from it.

Pulling racism out at the roots in our county means dealing to settler colonialism. Justice on settler colonial lands starts with our ancestral god-given right to govern ourselves on our own lands, to secure the safety of our whānau (family), and our manuhiri (guests). Justice, in this land, begins with returning what has been denied and stolen. The safety and integrity of our whānau, the integrity of our land, the integrity of our waters.

Anjum needs to be listened to. Lamia needs to be listened to. We need to be listened to. The changes required here are big, and fundamentally reformative. It will take no less to walk this pathway together to justice, and security, as a nation. Until I see these discussions and actions undertaken by our government, I will remain sceptical of their ability to keep any of us safe from white supremacy. 

We will continue to fight for this, for the safety of our children, for the safety of our lands, for the safety of our Muslim whānau, and all communities of colour.

As-salāmu ʿalaykum

2 thoughts on “What Does A Just, Safe Aotearoa Look Like?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s