Hundreds of Australians dressed in black gathered in Melbourne on the steps of Victorian state parliament late yesterday for a silent vigil in memory of murdered Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe.
The 21-year-old was killed on the way home from a comedy show in Melbourne just after midnight Tuesday. Her body was found in bushes near a tram stop by passers-by several hours later on Wednesday morning.
“It’s a sad reason that we are here today,” one man attending the vigil told Channel Seven TV news. “To sit and stand in anger for what has happened.” A woman holding back tears at the event said: “It’s just so sad, she seemed like such a lovely girl.”
Attendees will later fill the 86 tram, which Maasarwe was believed to have ridden on her way home, with red roses that were reportedly her favourite flowers. Maasarwe’s father Saeed, visited the crime scene yesterday, where dozens of flowers and messages from the public have been left nearby in support. “I feel very very sad from one side, but from another side, when I get this support and this help – from the people, from the community, from the police – it makes the suffering to feel a little more better,” he told reporters. “This is the last place my daughter... was here,” he added, breaking down in tears. “I want to be with her for more time, but someone decided I cannot be.”
Maasarwe was killed in a late-night attack while she was speaking on the phone with her sister. Police, who have described the attack as “horrific”.
Campaigners have called for an end to the “epidemic of violence against women” in the city. Some of the vigil organisers were the ones who had arranged a similar tribute for Eurydice Dixon, a 22-year-old local comedian who was killed in a Melbourne park last year as she was going home. “We’re as angry as we were last time,” organiser Jessamy Gleeson told Melbourne’s Herald Sun, adding more needed to be done to keep women safe. “We shouldn’t have these one-off vigils. There needs to be continued engagement and conversation about violence against women.”
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison took to Twitter yesterday, calling the crime “an incredibly shocking, despicable and tragic attack”.
“My heart goes out to Aiia’s family and friends and everyone whose life she touched.”
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