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Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

New Zealand’s largest ever crowd in support of migrant rights gathered in Auckland’s Aotea Square at the weekend in triple protests that also marked solidarity for Palestinian justice and the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, China.

More than 1500 people filled the square on Saturday proclaiming “migrant lives matter” with speakers calling on them to stand up for their rights.

New Zealand governments over the past few years were accused of cynically exploiting migrant workers and that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s “nation of 5 million people” excluded about 300,000 migrants.

The protesters then marched down Queen Street calling for changes to the “broken” immigration policies.

Among demands were:

  • Visas to be extended to allow for workers who had been trapped overseas, and
  • Creation of “genuine pathways” to permanent residence.

Unite union national director Michael Treen said successive governments had built the economy on the back of migrants and then consistently “lied” to them about their prospects.

President of the Migrant Workers Association Anu Kaloti said migrants were suffering at the hands of the “broken immigration system”.

Before the march, Palestinian community leader Maher Nazza declared to the crowd “No one is free until we are all free”, saying that the world community must pressure Israel into honouring the United Nations resolutions and restore justice and hope for Palestinians.

A smaller crowd of Chinese dissidents marked the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, with more than 10,000 deaths, according to a BBC report.

One speaker said: “If I said the truth [about the Chinese Communist Party] as I am saying here today in China, somebody would come within minutes and take me away.”

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