News

    Indian Students Claim Epidemic of Racist Violence in Australia

    Phil Mercer

    Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has condemned as "senseless acts of violence" a series of race attacks on Indian students in Melbourne.  The Indian high commissioner is demanding greater protection for Indians studying in Australia, as state authorities in the southern state of Victoria draw up new laws to crack down on hate crimes. 

    A series of assaults on Indian students in Australia prompted about 3,000 people to take part in a recent rally in Melbourne to demand greater protection from the authorities, who are accused of doing too little to stem the violence.

    There were ugly clashes between protesters and police.  More than a dozen people were arrested.

    Indian High Commissioner to Australia Sujatha Singh says many young expatriates are furious that their concerns have not been properly addressed.

    "Our Indian communities overseas are law abiding. They go by the rules and, if they're being provoked into this [protests], it is because they have very real concerns," said Singh.

    In the past year, about 70 attacks on young Indians in Melbourne have been reported and there are claims by community groups that the vast majority have been racially motivated.

    The latest victim of the violence - a 25-year-old Indian student - is in a critical condition after being stabbed with a screwdriver by intruders at a birthday party.

    His friend, Srinivas Vedantam, insists the attack was carried out by racist thugs.

    "When they entered the party and they started abusing - using the racial abuses, like 'You black Indians,' like that stuff. So it ended up with a racial attack," said Vedantam.

    However, senior police officers doubt that the violence directed toward the Indian community in Australia is exclusively motivated by racial prejudice.

    Victoria Police Chief Simon Overland insists that students, in general, have become "easy targets" for opportunistic criminals.

    "It's partly violence against Indian students," he said. "It's escalating robberies and we have used the term 'soft-target robberies.'  Now, the Indian students have taken that as referring directly to them;  it's not. What we have seen is that robberies are now happening more directed against people in the street, directed against people who are wandering around with laptop computers, mobile phones, iPods, cash.   And, if they're alone, they're vulnerable."
                
    The attacks have caused diplomatic friction between Canberra and New Delhi.

    Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has publicly reassured the Indian government that Australia is not a racist country and says he was appalled by the assaults.    

    "These are senseless acts of violence.  Those who carry out these attacks stand condemned," he said.            

    In response, the Rudd government has set up a special task force to deal with the violence.

    The new unit will be lead by a former chief of Australia's Special Forces, Duncan Lewis, who is one of the government's most-senior national security advisers.

    Officials in Victoria also want those convicted of racially-motivated offenses to be given more severe punishments.

    Victoria Attorney General Rob Hulls says judges should take bigotry into account when passing sentence.  

    "We want to send a message that any crime that's committed purely based on hatred or prejudice against a group of people is not to be tolerated, but it ought be something that is taken into account in the sentencing principles in this state," he said.   

    But some Indian students, like Jayasanker Bagiepalli, are too fearful to remain in Australia and are heading home.

    "See what happens here?  We are being attacked.  Not once, twice.  Many people, many Indians are being attacked.  That's what happens here.  So if this country, you know, people from India really stops coming here.   My parents doesn't (sic) want me to stay here," said Bagiepalli,

    About 90,000 Indian students are living in Australia.  They generate millions of dollars for the national economy, each year.

    The Australian wave of violence has made headline news across India.

    Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan has rejected an honorary doctorate from a university in Queensland to protest the assaults on Indian students in Australia. 

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora