Released on 8 December 2020, the Royal Commission enquiry into the Christchurch Mosque Attack - New Zealand's most devastating terrorist attack in history and what we now know as our "darkest day" - is now public.
The 792-page comprehensive report - which can be read in full here - features the title Kō tō tātou kāinga tēnei, which means “This is our home”. This represents an inclusive New Zealand, welcoming of people of all ethnicities and backgrounds.
This article will be updated as new perspectives from Asia are published.
What are Asian media outlets reporting on the Royal Commission enquiry?
Multiple Indian media outlets have reported that Brenton Tarrant, the Australian-born attacker who killed 51 Muslim worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, travelled extensively around the world, including India where he spent nearly three months, before moving to New Zealand to carry out the country’s worst massacre in 2019. This piece was also published in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
There's a focus on hate crimes and the social isolation of the terrorist in this Daily Star piece, of which original reporting was done by Reuters. It notes "Gamal Fouda, the Imam of Al Noor mosque targeted by the shooter, said the report showed 'institutional prejudice and unconscious bias' exists in government agencies." The same story was also published in Pakistan's Daily Times.
This straightforward report bullet points the key findings from the Royal Commission, and provides a timeline leading up to 8 December 2020. Astro Awani is a Malaysian news outlet with a small English section.
Hong Kong's South China Morning Post was the first to pick up the Associated Press newswire story, which was later republished by Taiwan News, The Diplomat, New Delhi Times, CNA, and Japan Today. This story is in-depth: it goes back to the terrorist's childhood, searching for motivations, notes there were no clear signs the attack was imminent, and details NZ Police's failings in background checks for firearms and the Government's various intelligence agencies being too focussed on Islamic extremist threats and not enough on those from white supremacists.
Offering a linear timeline, Al Jazeera goes back to 15 March, 2019, the day of the attack. It details when Jacinda Ardern announced the Royal Commission enquiry (25 March 2019), the multiple extensions granted for the enquiry, the charge of Terrorism (on 21 May 2019, the first time that charge has been laid in New Zealand), the trial which began on 24 August 2020, sentencing 3 days later, and the eventual release of the Royal Commission report.
Echoing the Asian media's focus on social media misinformation during the US Election 2020, Jakarta Post reports on Stuff's crackdown on comments featured at the bottom of articles about the attack. "Of the comments that are posted, most are fair expression – but it only takes a little toxin to poison an entire stream," Stuff editor-in-chief Patrick Crewdson wrote on the website, detailing that moderators had clamped down on personal attacks and prejudice, while the ability to upvote or downvote comments was removed.
With original reporting from Christchurch, Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay said the “overriding” sentiment of the Muslim community is acceptance and support of the Royal Commission's 44 recommendations listed to promote more safety. Yet at the same time, there were also some who felt that “not enough was said” in the report, about how complaints of the Muslim community were overlooked. On Al Jazeera's YouTube channel, the network published a two-minute segment about the Royal Commission under the title "No 'single' sign could have averted Christchurch attack: Report".
A day ahead of the report's release, on Monday Channel News Asia kicked off Asia outlet coverage. Naming the terrorist (which is something New Zealand outlets have uniformly agreed not to do) in the second paragraph, CNA quotes a Jacinda Ardern press conference where she vowed accountability for the country's worst massacre. A news outlet from Turkey reported similarly.
What is a Royal Commission?
According to the Government itself, a Royal Commission is the most serious response to an issue available to the New Zealand Government. It investigates matters of great importance and difficulty.
"A Royal Commission is engaged in fact-finding and preventing future recurrences. It investigates why the situation came about and then recommends policy or legislative changes to prevent it happening again."
Evidence is gathered from a range of different places and sources, including from participants and through the Commission's own investigations. In the case of the Christchurch Mosque Attack, evidence and statements were gathered from the terrorist himself, though these were redacted in the report so they cannot be used as alt-right or anti-Muslim propaganda and do not inspire future attacks. Public hearings are one important part of the inquiry process. They provide an opportunity to clarify matters, test disputed material and ensure that key evidence is discussed in public.
- Asia Media Centre