The Human Rights Commission is calling on the film makers of the ‘They Are Us’ film to listen to the 15th March affected whānau of shuhada, bullet wounded victims, and survivors.
“We are still suffering and for the sake of the affected whanau of March 15th we would kindly request to have some patience when planning for such a movie or docudrama. This is not the time,” wrote the March 15 Whānau trust, composed of 78 affected whānau of shuhada and bullet wounded victims, in a statement released on 20 June.
Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt called for the voices of the affected whānau and victims to be heard.
“The Human Rights Commission echoes the concerns expressed by the Muslim community concerning the reports of the ‘They Are Us’ film,” Hunt said.
“The lack of appropriate consultation, sidelining of those affected by focusing on the actions of the Prime Minister, and the short time since the horrific events of March 15 have all been raised as concerns for the Muslim community in respect of the film.”
“As a country, we have a responsibility to do all we can to ensure that Muslim New Zealanders are represented accurately in stories. We have an obligation to do all we can to ensure those stories come from a place of respect. It matters who is telling the stories and for whom those stories are being told, particularly when it is your story being told.“
“As the Human Rights Commission, we hear the Muslim community and we encourage others to hear them as well when they say this film should not go ahead.”
Hunt wants to see more dialogue regarding representation in stories and media to counter Islamophobia.
“Media shapes how we understand each other, the past, and where we are going in the future. It can create harmful stereotypes and misrepresent the facts. Stories told through the media can uphold or undermine an inclusive society and honour or disrespect Te Tiriti o Waitangi in Aotearoa New Zealand.”
“Countering Islamophobia in the media is just one of many steps we need to take to build an inclusive society. While this is long-term work, we can start by listening to the views, and acting on the advice, of the communities directly affected by the terrorist attacks of 15 March 2019. “