Threats against Jacinda Ardern on the rise
The number of threats levelled against New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has surged in recent years, with those requiring police involvement nearly tripling since 2019.
According to data shared with Newshub under the Official Information Act, police have dealt with 50 threats targeting Ms Ardern in 2021, in comparison to just 18 in 2019 and 32 in 2020.
A combination of anti-COVID-19 vaccine and anti-vaccine-mandate sentiment, as well as gun reform in the wake of the 2019 Christchurfch Mosque terror attack are the main drivers, according to the data.
“My job is to make tough calls that not everyone likes,” Ms Ardern told television show AM.
“Now that - never ever - is a reason for anyone in a leadership position to face threats and I don’t want to trivialise it by saying it comes with the job. But unfortunately, in recent times, that’s increasingly been the case.
“Does it change what I do or how I do it? No.”
As a result of the threats, the PM and her office have been afforded additional protection in recent months, as reported by several New Zealand outlets.
It comes after anti-vaccination groups occupied the lawns and streets outside Parliament, with a number of protestors calling for the public trial and execution of Ms Ardern and others involved in the vaccination effort.
Some threats against the Prime Minister have emerged via Telegram, the encrypted social media platform frequently used by conspiracy theorists and Nazi sympathisers, including one from Richard Trevor Sivell, who was charged with threatening to kill Ms Ardern in April.
“They are going to die. We are not going to allow them to share this world with us anymore,” Mr Sivell said in an audio message posted to the Counterspin channel on Telegram. “Same as Jacinda. She is going to die. Execute these motherf***ers. I look forward to hearing their necks snap.”
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