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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs