Advocates are calling on the government to take action against coronavirus-fuelled racism, as reported incidents continue to rise.
Australia’s former race discrimination commissioner believes incidents of anti-Asian racism are just the “tip of the iceberg.”
Advocates call on government to take action to stop racism
Tim Soutphommasane is now a professor of sociology and political theory at the University of Sydney.
He says the Australian Humans Rights Commission has seen a rise in race discrimination complaints in the first quarter of this year.
Soutphommasane told SBS News:
“We know that racism tends to be underreported, so for every incident we see and hear about, there will be many others that go unobserved by the public.
“If it’s this bad when people are in isolation, then how bad will it be when people start coming back?”
Police report increase in race-based incidents
Victoria Police confirm the robbery and assault of two Chinese students in Melbourne’s CBD.
Their attackers allegedly told them to “go back to China.”
Similarly, the Queensland government confirmed a rise in “racially motivated” incidents against people of Chinese background.
Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll says police have laid 22 charges since March 1.
They include abusive graffiti, assaults, and robberies.
For example, a 15-year-old girl allegedly punched an Asian woman in the face, accusing her of having coronavirus.
Furthermore, the Asian Australian Alliance has received more than 170 reports of coronavirus-related racist incidents.
More than 60 percent of people reporting racism said they were insulted with a racial slur.
For example, “Go back to China” and “Stop eating bats.”
Soutphommasane called on government and community leaders to take a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Asian racism now.
Additionally, he warns the situation will likely get worse without decisive action.
“People are angry and they’re afraid because of what’s happening around the world with the pandemic, and calling COVID-19 the ‘Chinese virus’, as Donald Trump and others have done, has made it possible to scapegoat people of Chinese and other Asian backgrounds.
“Blaming Australians of Asian background or international students of Asian backgrounds for the coronavirus is similar to blaming an Australian of caucasian background for the actions of Donald Trump in the US – it simply doesn’t make any sense and we’re better than that.”
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