Asia-Pacific

A 95-year-old Kiwi WWII veteran caught four buses to protest against racism

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At Auckland's Aotea Square on Sunday, this 95-year-old veteran joined thousands of others to rally against racism.

Arm-in-arm with a police officer and a stranger, 95-year-old WWII veteran John Sato was determined to show his support for the Muslim community by protesting against racism at an Auckland rally. 

The New Zealand Army veteran told Radio New Zealand he couldn't sleep the night of the Christchurch terror attacks, when a sole gunman killed fifty Muslims during afternoon prays at two different mosques. 

Mr Sato admits he was living in a bubble; keeping to himself in the Auckland eastern suburb of Howick since losing his wife and daughter. 

But when the news broke out of Christchurch, he was plunged into reality. 

John Sato, a former Japaense serviceman, took two buses from Howick to join the march against racism in Auckland, New Zealand.
John Sato, a former Japaense serviceman, took two buses from Howick to join the march against racism in Auckland, New Zealand.
Getty Images

"I thought it was so sad. You can feel the suffering of other people," he told the broadcaster. 

"The Christchurch incident was more than just a tragedy for us."

Mr Sato said he was determined to show his support.

First he caught a bus to visit a mosque in Pakuranga, not too far from his house. After seeing so many flower and messages of support, he decided to press on - heading into the city centre to join a march against racism. 

Anti-Racists Rally Against Racism And Islamaphobia
People gather to march against racism at Aotea Square.
Getty Images

After three more bus trips, he arrived to join thousands of Aucklanders rallying against hate.

When strangers saw him, they were quick to offer him a hand. 

Born to a Scottish mother and Japanese father, Mr Sato believes that when recruited into the army during New Zealand's fight against Japan in the Pacific, he was one of only two Kiwi-Japanese in the military.

He said racism had no place in New Zealand.

People gather to march against racism in Auckland, New Zealand.
People gather to march against racism in Auckland, New Zealand.
Getty Images

"I think it's such a tragedy, and yet it has the other side," he told Radio New Zealand.

"It has brought people together, no matter what their race or anything. People suddenly realised we're all one. We care for each other."

Inspired by the 95-year-old's show of solidarity, a police officer even gave him a lift home from the march.

 

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Sydney Muslims send a message of hope and strength after the Christchurch shooting.
Sydney Muslims send a message of hope and strength after the Christchurch shooting.

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