New Zealand FM sent to Turkey to confront Erdogan over Christchurch comments

Erdogan has caused upset after he warned anti-Muslim Australians would suffer the same fate as soldiers in World War I Gallipoli campaign. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 March 2019
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New Zealand FM sent to Turkey to confront Erdogan over Christchurch comments

  • Erdogan has twice screened excerpts of video footage of the New Zealand mosque attack
  • The Turkish president says New Zealand should change laws so the attacker can be harshly punished

ANKARA, Turkey: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday Foreign Minister Winston Peters will travel to Turkey to “confront” comments made by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on the killing of at least 50 people at mosques in Christchurch.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday following a terror attack at the two mosques during Friday prayers.

Erdogan - who is seeking to drum up support for his Islamist-rooted AK Party in March 31 local elections - said Turkey would make the suspected attacker pay if New Zealand did not.

Speaking at a campaign rally in the northern town of Eregli, Erdogan criticized New Zealand and Australia for sending troops to Turkey in the World War I Gallipoli campaign, claiming their motive was anti-Islam-oriented.

“What business did you have here? We had no issues with you, why did you come all the way over here?” Erdogan said. “The only reason: We’re Muslim, and they’re Christian.”

In inflammatory comments on Monday, Erdogan had also suggested that anyone who comes to Turkey with anti-Muslim sentiments would be sent back in coffins, “like their grandfathers were” during the Gallipoli campaign.

Those comments were made in Canakkale province in northwestern Turkey, which is home to the historic battlefields, on the anniversary of a World War I Turkish naval victory.

The comments came at a campaign rally that included video footage of the shootings which the alleged gunman had broadcast on Facebook.

Ardern said Peters would seek urgent clarification.

“Our deputy prime minister will be confronting those comments in Turkey,” Ardern told reporters in Christchurch. “He is going there to set the record straight, face-to-face.”

Peters had earlier condemned the airing of footage of the shooting, which he said could endanger New Zealander's aboard.

Despite Peters' intervention, an extract from Tarrant's alleged manifesto was flashed up on a screen at Erdogan's rally again on Tuesday, along with footage of the gunman entering one of the mosques and shooting as he approached the door.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he summoned Turkey's ambassador for a meeting, during which he demanded Erdogan's comments be removed from Turkey's state broadcaster.

“I will wait to see what the response is from the Turkish government before taking further action, but I can tell you that all options are on the table,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

Morrison said Australia’s ambassador to Turkey will on Wednesday meet with the members of Erdogan’s government.

Morrison said Canberra is also reconsidering its travel advice for Australians planning trips to Turkey.

Relations between Turkey, New Zealand and Australia have generally been good. Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders travel each year to Turkey for war memorial services

Just over a century ago, thousands of soldiers from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) struggled ashore on a narrow beach at Gallipoli during an ill-fated campaign that would claim more than 130,000 lives.

The area has become a site of pilgrimage for visitors who honor their nations’ fallen in graveyards halfway around the world on ANZAC Day every April 25.


You die! Up to 23 dead as arsonist sets Japan anime studio afire

Updated 1 min 47 sec ago
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You die! Up to 23 dead as arsonist sets Japan anime studio afire

  • Fire started in three-story building in Japan’s ancient capital
  • Kyoto Animation, better known as KyoAni, was founded in 1981 as an animation and comic book production studio

TOKYO: A man screaming “You die!” burst into an animation production studio in Kyoto, Japan, and set it on fire early Thursday, authorities said, killing seven people and leaving at least 16 more presumed dead.

The blaze injured another 36 people, some of them critically, Japanese authorities said. Most were workers at Kyoto Animation, known for mega-hit stories featuring high school girls.

The fire started in the three-story building in Japan’s ancient capital after the suspect sprayed an unidentified liquid accelerant, Kyoto prefectural police and fire department officials said.

Seven have been confirmed dead with severe burns, said fire department official Satoshi Fujiwara. Six people also found on the first and second floors were presumed dead, Fujiwara said.

On the third floor, more than 10 people were found unresponsive, he said. Some of them were found on the stairs, where they apparently collapsed while gasping for air and trying to go out to the roof.

The suspect was injured and taken to a hospital, officials said. Police are investigating the man on suspicion of arson.

 

 

Survivors who saw the attacker said he was not their colleague and that he was screaming “(You) die!” when he dumped the liquid and started the fire, according to Japanese media reports. They said some of the survivors got splashed with the liquid.

Footage on Japan’s NHK television showed gray smoke billowing from the charred building. Other footage showed windows blown off.

“There was an explosion, then I heard people shouting, some asking for help,” a female witness told TBS TV. “Black smoke was rising from windows on upper floors, then there was a man struggling to crawl out of the window.”

Witnesses in the neighborhood said they heard bangs coming from the building, others said they saw people coming out blackened, bleeding, walking barefoot, Kyodo News reported.

Rescue officials set up an orange tent outside the studio building to provide first aid and sort out the injured.

Fire department officials said more than 70 people were in the building at the time of the fire and many of them ran outside.

Kyoto Animation, better known as KyoAni, was founded in 1981 as an animation and comic book production studio, and its hits include “Lucky Star,” “K-On!” and “Haruhi Suzumiya.”

With at least 23 killed or presumed dead, the fire was the worst mass killing in Japan since a man stabbed and killed 19 people at an assisted living facility in western Tokyo in 2016.

A fire in 2001 in Tokyo’s congested Kabukicho entertainment district killed 44 people in its worst known case of arson in modern times. Police never announced an arrest for setting the blaze, though five people were convicted of negligence. In 2008, 16 people died in a blaze at a movie theater in Osaka, near Kyoto.