Why did Numan Haider have to die?

Why did Numan Haider have to die?

Melbourne Socialist Alliance media release September 26, 2014

The only facts that the public know about the death of Melbourne teenager Numan Haider is that he was shot and killed by the police on September 23 and that two Victorian police officers were stabbed.

Despite statements to the contrary in the media, we don't know the circumstances of the struggle between the teenager and the police. All we have is a statement from Victorian police commissioner Ken Lay putting 100% of the blame on the dead victim.

People who have followed other death in custody cases are familiar with the police preempting investigations by getting their statements exonerating police officers out to the media quickly, thus prejudicing the public against the victim.

The police commissioner linked Numan Haider with the Islamic State by claiming that "There's certainly information that he was present at the shopping centre in the last week or so with the flag that appeared to be an ISIS [Islamic State] flag”

It was later discovered that the flag that Numan Haider had at the Dandenong shopping centre had nothing to do with Islamic State. Instead it was a flag symbolising the Shahadah or profession of faith. It’s the first pillar of Islam and a common creed recited by Muslims. It literally means ‘There is no God but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.’

There are many contradictory elements in the police story. They portray Numan Haider as a terrorist threat but then they organised to meet him in a car park instead of the police station. If Numan Haider was really a feared terrorist, it is unlikely the police would have met him in a carpark.

The police commissioner also made another contradictory comment that the police had “No inkling this individual posed a threat”. This is despite also portraying him as a terrorist threat that they had concerns about.

The Age even published a big front-page photo of a person they named as being Numan Haider.It later turned out that the photo was of different person, not Numan Haider.

Sean Brocklehurst, Socialist Alliance candidate for Pascoe Vale said today that the “statements by the police and the media don't prove that Numan Haider is a terrorist.

The unfounded and speculative statements by police and media outlets linking Numan Haider and ISIS are prejudicial to the investigation of the facts of the case and are designed to create hysteria around supposed homegrown terrorism.

Every case involving a member of the Muslim community doing something anti-social or violent is being used by the Abbott government as justification for the increased terror alert. The government is desperately searching for something which could be construed as a “terrorist plot” in order to justify the increased terror alert.

When Haider met the police, he was technically in their care and custody.

“Numan Haidar's death is another death in custody case and it will take some time to uncover the facts given the media hysteria.

“There are similarities between the death of Numan Haidar and the case of 15-year-old Tyler Cassidy, who was shot and killed by the police in Northcote in 2008. In the 1990s, the Victorian police had a reputation as being the state where police were most prepared to shoot to kill, usually mentally ill people,” said Brocklehurst.

“Numan Haidar may well have had mental health issues, similar to several other Victorians who have been killed by the police.

“The prejudice against Muslims that is being whipped up by politicians, the media and right-wing race-hate groups, is being used to prejudice any investigation of the facts about how Numan Haider came to die,” he said.

Socialist Alliance Moreland councillor Sue Bolton added that: “It will be difficult to uncover the facts of the case, because police will be investigating police.

As we have seen in many cases across Australia, the police force is a racist institution which engages in racial profiling. We couldn't have any confidence in the police investigation, especially as the police have already been feeding information to the media which is designed to prejudice the public against Numan Haidar,” said Brocklehurst.

“This case has been so politicised that there must be an independent investigation of the circumstances of the case,” she said.

Socialist Alliance calls for

  • An independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding the death of Numan Haider
  • An end to the demonisation of Muslims by politicians, the police and the media
  • An end to the stripping of people's passports
  • No new anti-terrorism laws to be passed
  • The existing anti-terrorism laws to be repealed
  • No discrimination against women on the basis of what they choose to wear.