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Christchurch Begins Burials as Memorials Continue to Grow

As New Zealand police continue to work with families to positively identify those slain in last Friday’s attack at two Christchurch mosques, members of the community buried their dead Wednesday and pressed forward with their lives.

"The process to reunite the victims with their loved ones, this is for us an absolute priority - for family reasons, for compassionate reasons and for cultural reasons. That's progressing very well, it was our intention to do what we could to complete that by today, we are making very good progress,” said New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush.

He added, "As of last night at 11:30pm, twenty-one of those victims had been formally identified and were being made available to release to their loved ones."

Two of the 50 victims were laid to rest in Memorial Park Cemetery Wednesday.

Hundreds gathered for the memorial service, including some who traveled from elsewhere in the country.

“Seeing the body lowered down, it was a very emotional time for me,” Gulshad Ali told Reuters News Agency. He flew from Auckland to attend the funeral.

While members of the Muslim community were mourning, New Zealand Prime Minister

Ardern visited Christchurch’s Cashmere High School. There, she told students it was “okay to grieve.”

"It is ok to ask for help,” she said, “even if you weren't directly affected. These things, these images that people are seeing they are really difficult to process."

That’s something Jennifer Hammon, a life long resident of Christchurch, is also struggling with - how to make sense of something that many in the city thought was unimaginable, as well as, how to explain what happened to her young daughter.

“You can't explain it,” Hammond told VOA as her voice began trembling, “We lost people who were part of our lives. The thought of children being targeted angers me… you can't even put it into words. It's hurt, there's some anger there, and grief.”

It will take time

With nearly half of the bodies identified and some returned to families, the burial process has begun in Christchurch for those slain. Dr. Reza Abdul-Jabbar, an Imam from Invercargill, came to the city to assist in the process.

“We’ve got to dig in… dig deep within ourselves,” to move past the events of last week Abdul-Jabbar stated.

He says politicians, academics, and religious leaders are now in a position to change how communities deal with extremists.

Abdul-Jabbar urges the dialog on what comes next not be “sugarcoated,” so that real conversations can take place.

“I think we will move forward as a nation,” he said, “because 99.99999 percent of us are behind everybody.”

That sentiment, that those killed Friday are part of the larger New Zealand community and vice versa is also something Hammond believes.

“We rally together. That’s who we are, and we will always be like that,” she said.

But in a city still reeling from an earthquake that killed 185 people in 2011, Hammond notes it will take time and more than just words to help the community heal.

内容来自 VOA英语学习网https://www.chinavoa.com/show-8752-241533-1.html