The soldiers are buried at the Benghazi War Cemetery and the Benghazi British Military Cemetery in Libya. 200 graves were desecrated in the attack with 11 of those belonging to New Zealand soldiers.
Also a lecturer in Māori culture, David Rankin has pointed out that leaving the bodies of the fallen soldiers in a foreign country is a source of shame for an iwi “our tikanga says that the bodies must always be returned home.”
Mr Rankin has addressed the fact that this has been an ongoing issue with the RSA for the last 70 years. The attack on the graves has reinforced the need to have these soldiers home with Mr Rankin offering $50,000 to start a fund to have the bodies of Māori soldiers buried overseas returned.
Stephen Clarke, the RSA Chief Executive has said that the the New Zealand government has a commitment to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission that the bodies of those who have passed will remain in the country in which they have fallen.
“From the RSA perspective, we believe the Commonwealth War Graves Commission does a wonderful job. Those graves and cemeteries are very special places and very dignified, and when New Zealanders go over to pay their respects they always comment on what a wonderful resting place it is for our service personnel.”
“The sense of going over there and seeing how well looked after those graves are, and that they lay side by side with their comrades, whether they were Māori or Pakeha, provides a sense of comfort.”
With the unrest in Libya, Mr Rankin believes this is just the start of attacks on the burial sites.
“By leaving our Māori warriors, even our Pakeha soldiers – they also gave the ultimate sacrifice, and letting these creeps, these crazed Arabs smash these stones and call them pigs and dogs is actually an offence to our country.”
“Why are we leaving our dead in places where they can be attacked?”
Mr Clarke has said ”We are sure the recent desecration of the graves will be put right by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as soon as they are able to do that.”