New Zealand shooting survivor says violence achieved nothing

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – If the Buffalo supermarket gunman learned anything from the New Zealand massacre that apparently inspired him, it should have been that the violence did not achieve any of the gunman’s goals, a survivor said Tuesday.

Temel Atacocugu was shot nine times when a white supremacist opened fire during Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch three years ago, killing 51 worshipers and seriously injuring dozens more.

Atacocugu continues to recover from gunshot wounds to his mouth, left arm and both legs.

One of the Christchurch gunman’s stated goals was to sow discord between racial and ethnic groups, eventually forcing non-whites to leave. But in fact, the opposite happened as Muslims and non-Muslims embraced each other in shared and lasting pain.

Atacocugu said the news about the shooting in Buffalo, New York, and its connections to the Christchurch massacre was frightening, triggering flashbacks for him.

“Violence does not solve the problem. They should see this. People, including extremists, must see that violence fixes nothing,” he said. “Peace will solve this. They also need to learn to talk to the people around them.”

Atacocugu said he was heartbroken for the families of the Buffalo victims and wanted governments around the world to do more to stamp out extremism.

“They went shopping and had no idea what was going to happen,” he said. “They were just thinking about buying their food, maybe they’re feeding their little kids at home.”

The 18-year-old gunman accused of killing 10 black people in the Buffalo attack watched a copy of the live video the New Zealand mosque shooter had taken, according to a document. assigned to him.

In a 180-page diatribe, Payton Gendron said he subscribed to the same racist “big replacement” theory that New Zealand sniper Brenton Tarrant wrote about in a similar 74-page article.

And like Tarrant, Gendron allegedly painted slogans on his weapon and used a helmet-mounted camera to live-stream his attack on the internet.

Gendron, who surrendered inside the supermarket, pleaded not guilty and was arrested on suicide watch.

After pleading guilty, Tarrant, an Australian citizen, in 2020 became the first person in New Zealand to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.the hardest phrase available.

The Christchurch attack was broadcast live for 17 minutes and watched by hundreds of thousands of people on Facebook before it was taken down. Tarrant’s video and speech were quickly banned in New Zealand but it can still be found in dark corners of the internet.

Since Christchurch, social platforms have learned to remove videos of extremist shootings faster. The Buffalo shooter allegedly streamed the attack live to Amazon-owned gaming platform Twitch. Twitch said it removed the video in less than two minutes.

The Christchurch attacks also prompted the New Zealand government within weeks to pass new laws banning the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons. The police paid the owners to turn in their weapons and destroyed more than 50,000 of them.

“We saw in New Zealand the gun control thing,” said Muti Bari, another survivor of the Christchurch attacks. “We saw some measures taken by the government right away. We’re still waiting to see what the US government does. But sadly, we haven’t seen anything like it.”

Bari, who hid in a bathroom at the Linwood Mosque as the gunman killed people a few feet away, said he tries not to think too much about that day but is remembered when he meets his friends, including a family who lost a father and son. son.

He said that easy access to guns in the US, along with constitutionally protected free speech – and the apparent prevalence of hate speech – was a potent mix that the US government needed to consider more seriously.

The Christchurch attack also inspired other white supremacist shootings, including a shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, which left 23 people dead..

Atacocugu, the survivor who was shot nine times, this year retraced the route the gunman took from Dunedin to Christchurch on the morning of the attacks.

Despite his lingering injuries, Atacocugu walked and cycled for two weeks along the entire 360-kilometer (224-mile) route. He wanted to bless the route, spread peace and change a journey that started with hate.

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