Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Escalation of racial tensions in Oz

Racial tensions involving Indian students are on the rise in Australia.

It was inevitable, given the hysteria whipped up by the media and politicians. I said in a post last week the climate is going to get worse in both countries, the extremists are jumping on the bandwagon, the real danger is an escalation of violence..

Now there are reports of exactly that in Sydney and Melbourne:

A protest involving hundreds of Indian students on Monday night turned into a "vigilante" attack, with a group wielding sticks and baseball bats attacking men of "Middle Eastern appearance" in apparent retaliation for an earlier alleged assault on an Indian student.

'Middle eastern appearance' is PC-speak for Lebanese by the way.

So it's escalated from protest marches in Melbourne and Sydney to protests in Indian cities, then to extremist groups jumping on the bandwagon with effigy burning in the streets of Indian cities, and now to ethnic groups, in this instance Indians and Lebanese, attacking each other.

The police and politicians, in Victoria, NSW and federal government, have handled it badly, which hasn't helped.

They've consistently said in the past that the attacks are not racial but opportunistic, which is only partly true and gives the students the impression that any racist element is being denied, is being swept under the carpet, their safety concerns are being dismissed. That's bound to raise tensions.

Undoubtedly some of the attacks are not racially motivated, they're part of the unfortunately normal mugging of vulnerable people. Students living in poorer areas, as their finances force them to do, working late and going home alone - often carrying a valuable laptop - are vulnerable.

But other attacks obviously are racially motivated and denying it was ridiculous and unhelpful.

At least now the Victorian police chief has acknowledged the fact:

Victoria's police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland has admitted that some of the attacks on Indian students were "clearly racist in motivation''.

"Some of the attacks were clearly racist in motivation and that violence is unacceptable and racism is unacceptable in any form.''


There are examples of the escalation in the rough Sydney suburb of Harris Park, where crime is high, and in Melbourne.

A demonstration was called in Harris Park after an Indian student was allegedly assaulted by a group of men of 'Middle Eastern appearance'. Around 200 Indian students, some of them armed with baseball bats and hockey sticks, gathered and attacked men of 'Middle Eastern appearance'.

I don't think there's much doubt that the violence was planned - you're not expecting to demonstrate peacefully if you go armed with a baseball bat or hockey stick.

The Times of India also reports a group of Indians retaliated against racial verbal abuse by stabbing a 20-year-old youth. The stabbing was in St Albans in Melbourne on Sunday when the youth was stabbed once in the neck and twice in the arm.

Police said they were looking for two Indian attackers aged 23 and 29. They added that a car believed to be that of a man involved in attacks on Indian students had also been torched.

In Melbourne Indian students have formed 'security patrols' to protect their own people around St Albans and Thomastown railway stations. That is a very stupid thing to do in countries such as Australia where it simply isn't done. It will do nothing but raise tensions and turn even mainstream Australians against them.

Amongst a lot of coverage in the Indian and Australian newspapers about the escalation there is one article which took a broader look at what's happening. It's by a well respected journalist, Paul Sheehan, who points out that "each incident is another brick in the wall of misconception that Indians in Australia have become the frequent victims of violent white racism.

This misconception has hardened into belief in India, where widespread media coverage of the attacks has played on old sensitivities about the treatment of Indians by whites and white Australia.


He goes on to point out that "the attacks on Indians (were) committed by a polyglot mix reflecting the streets - white, Asian, Middle Eastern, Aboriginal, Pacific Islander."

Detailing recent attacks:

"The most recent attacks, in Harris Park this week, allegedly involved assailants of the proverbial 'Middle Eastern appearance'.

In Melbourne, an assault on an Indian student on a train was recorded on video (which) shows a swarm of young men robbing and repeatedly attacking the student. Most of them do not appear to be white.

A recent assault on an Indian student in Glebe was committed by a young offender described as Aboriginal.

Another recent assault on an Indian student...in Port Melbourne, involved three attackers identified as Caucasian.


As he says, the ethnicity of the attackers varies from crime to crime.

All in all it's a sad and sorry saga which isn't finished yet.

Here's another prediction. With non-white gangs fighting each other on the streets and Indian 'security patrols', the next stage will be white bigots, such as I posted about in September, jumping in with their 'white Christians only' rantings about immigration.

If you're following the story here are some links to references in the posting:


Indians stab racial abuser.

Harris Park violence.

Some attacks are racist: police chief.

Street patrols.

Paul Sheehan: Brutal truth about attacks.

And I'll throw this one in, which I came across in The Times of India, just to get the Anons steaming. We're even more racist than Aussies: Jug Suraiya.
As always, the comments make interesting reading too.

20 comments:

Dubai Jazz said...

SeaBee, great post. And I totally agree with you. This whole racial baiting and agitation business is disturbing. And tensions usually tend to get worse when exploited by politicians.

And although I agree with Jug Suraiya’s article, it wouldn’t give me any relief to learn there’s racism in India. Two wrongs don’t make a right, you know. And I refuse to compare the levels of Civil Liberties, Freedom of Speech or Minorities Rights between the two countries to begin with. In other words, even if I come from a country run by a dictatorship (and by all means I do), I could expect to be dealt with dignity and equality when I’m in country like Australia (which ranked 10 on the world democracy index compared to whopping 35 for India).

Anonymous said...

i would be surprised to see that on average people who some to india will say they were treated without dignity or equality. i guess you have to go there, to find out what it is. and it would do good to probably. not that caste and religion and differences in colour and treatment do not expect it. what else do you epxect when 35 different languages, and a population more than europe, n.america and s.america is put together and lives in democracy, with a few hundred religions throw in for good measure. it would be surprising if we see africa and europe and middle east combined into one country and living together with complete freedom of speech and voice and rights, and see brotherly love and affection all around. that is how big the indian population and differences are. so enough of comparing that with countries with 21 million population, and the trouble of governing it. not that it makes wrong else right. but it is a downright stupid comparison. made by people who have not travelled enough, or have and not seen the truth.

as for indians getting the stick, good i say. let them go back to their own country and live there, instead of begging in some other country. those days are over. and let them also take the stick to everyone else. in the long term it is left to be seen towards where the pull will be....just kiddin...hope this shit ends. everyone can do without it.

Seabee said...

Agree with you totally Jazz about the Jug article.

I followed the link to it when I was reading the stories and thought I'd include it as a PS, just to stir up the Anons :-)

Media Junkie said...

it is true - indians are more racist to their own kind than any non-indian.

rosh said...

Personally, I believe, most Indians these days (particularly those who've lived their lives in India) should perhaps remain or return to India. Quite honestly, I do not believe, most of them know how, or perhaps rather wish to blend into foreign societies, and strike a balance between their ways of life, and that in the foreign nation. On the contrary, I believe most Indian immigrants from prior generations were perhaps more successful at it.

I say the above, often given what I've experienced across the United States, Canada and in the UAE. There is little effort to blend, even though Indians in general are perhaps more resilient & compassionate. Of course some folks do blend well, however the majority lives on with the aged ol' stigmas & traditions they bring forth from whatever part of India - and it's quite transparent, especially in the UAE.

As for Indians being more racist (not necessarily discriminatory) than Ozzies. It's the truth, something an honest Indian shan't deny.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

I agree that the Indian media is playing up the attacks. And I had to work at my perception of Australians after so much negativity. Your post helped.

But this whole Indian bashing - Indians are racist towards each other etc... is a not really the truth either.

Indians like criticising their own country. They are quick to beat themselves. And there are numerous ills in the country - a recently rabid media, some communal violence, among others. But accusing them of racism is just importing a disease that sounds fancy and foreign!

Indians will often tell you that who you know as Indian is a person culturally different from them. Say, you are friends with a South Indian Hindu and meet a Goan Catholic or a Muslim from the UP in the North - they are all Indian. But if you base your understanding of India on one of them the other would rightly feel misunderstood. Whether or not they are consciously aware of this, many Indians underline differences to because they are real.

Racism is hardly about wanting a 'fair' ocomplexioned bride! A fair skinned Tamil girl will still not be the first choice for a darker skinned Bihari boy when there is luxury to plan such things. Wanting a fairer skin via fairness creams is not about wanting to be white, it is about wanting to be fairer! Community based stereotyping is not racism - it is more a comment, right or wrong, on elements on people's lifestyle.

Labelling it all racism is just simplistic and a bit silly. Even if Indians do it themselves.

Shree Venkatram said...

I find the talk about Indians being racist, without any basis. We have some Indians discriminating against each other on many grounds -caste, religion, religion, language, but race???
Like one of the commentators said earlier, let us not import a foreign concept into India.
There is no country in the world where people speak so many different languages (Individual mother tongues in India number several hundred; the 1961 census recognized 1,652 languages)- Wikipedia. Now where else in the world do you come across a diversity like that?
India has also been home to migrant communities over centuries who have been escaping persecution in their lands - Zoroastrians, Jews, and more recently the Bahais come readily to mind. Each of these communities have been welcomed and made to feel at home. And all of them are free to carry on with their religion, dress and way of living, as indeed they do. Each diverse community has its own special identity. Diversity is celebrated and appredciated in India.
So let us not compare India to Australia, for there are no similarities.

Anonymous said...

Indian government should have declared indefinite unilateral ban of issuing visa to Indian students for Australia. This would have send strong signal and would killed cash cow approach of Australians towards Indian students (who later treat Indians as beef available for slicing). This would also have given a really tough message all the countries that take Indians students but care least about them, but it didn’t happen. And, doesn’t surprise me at all our government is filled of big time loser and timid people who can’t take a single tough stand.

http://genxyogi.blogspot.com/2009/06/punch-indian-politicians-before-racist.html

rosh said...

WOW - some comments seem the everyday Indian denials & hysteria.

"I find the talk about Indians being racist, without any basis."

You've got to be kidding! How long have you had head in the sand?

"Racism is hardly about wanting a 'fair' ocomplexioned bride! Wanting a fairer skin via fairness creams is not about wanting to be white, it is about wanting to be fairer!"

By 'fairness' should you mean wanting a lighter skin then, WOW! talk about hypocrisy?!

"Indian government should have declared indefinite unilateral ban of issuing visa to Indian students for Australia."

YES - they should have - and they STILL CAN - WHY DON'T they?! Talk about hysteria and knee jerk reaction.

Anonymous said...

skin colour, if you understand art, has nothing to do with racism. it is just preference, as van gogh preferred yellow, and you may prefer a blue dress. you have the liberty to change your colour, as much as women have the libery to fit extra boobs and bums with silicon. it has everything to do with perceived beauty. looks like you have a serious issue of being dark and having been commented upon. it is known in photography, dark colour absorbs all light, and hence features do not stand out. in fairer colour it does.it has all to do with perceived beauty. i dont even know why it should be called racism. if you have freedom of choice for everything else, why not this? it becomes racism if and when it is used to discriminate against, and reject someone based on colour. saying i like white coloured skin is just my freedom of expression. if you do not like it, too bad for you. sick of people who make generalistic comments about people and places, based on personal experiences.

rosh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rosh said...

"skin colour, if you understand art, has nothing to do with racism. it is just preference, as van gogh preferred yellow,"


How could you intertwine art with the general Indian perception of a woman with less than lighter tone, not beautiful enough? That's not art. It's discriminatory and possibly borders on racism. Imbecilic, you chose say that in context to the comments and this post.


"it has all to do with perceived beauty. i dont even know why it should be called racism. if you have freedom of choice for everything else, why not this?


Perhaps, however, a line is crossed when lighter tones are upheld to anything else i.e. a woman's beauty or skill is heavily accented on skin tone, never mind the one who's darker and strikingly prettier or better at skill. I have seen (and heard) this way many times across Indian communities. That's when people crosses the line to the point of being racist.

The UN defines the term - "racial discrimination" - shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life"


"saying i like white coloured skin is just my freedom of expression. if you do not like it, too bad for you. sick of people who make generalistic comments about people and places, based on personal experiences."


You like white people, and that is your freedom of 'expression' (or is it choice?) If it is choice, why imply Oz issue as racist?

Grow up!

Dubai Jazz said...

Rosh, good job on debunking this straw man.

Anonymous said...

you answered nothing, except go on and on about the same thing. if aussies like white skin, it is not a problem.every asian who goes to australia or uk or america indeed knows this. not necessarily right, and there is nothing you can do about it. but if they start telling you that in those places, or start beating you up as in australia, or excluding you from jobs or opportunities, then that is racism. and the govt will act to protect you against it.

"I have seen (and heard) this way many times across Indian communities. That's when people crosses the line to the point of being racist." Think you should start a class action suit against all indians. somebody has to.

it is imbecilic to actually believe that people have great preference for colour when it comes to dress, car, cats and dogs, but when it comes to humans themselves, they are colourless. nobody is justifying it, but get off your high horse. it does not mean they will act only upon it, or discriminate based on it. from a beauty point of view, they do have their preferences, and you will only be deluding yourself if you say no.

rosh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rosh said...

"it is imbecilic to actually believe that people have great preference for colour when it comes to dress, car, cats and dogs, but when it comes to humans themselves, they are colourless."

A car or a dress are not living beings. A cat and a dog are not people! You seem oblivious of racism almost embedded in you and your culture, in general.

rosh said...

"if aussies like white skin, it is not a problem.every asian who goes to australia or uk or america indeed knows this. not necessarily right, and there is nothing you can do about it. but if they start telling you that in those places"

I lived in Oz for undergrad. I've got friends & cousins (UAE born raised) who moved to Oz. They love it at Oz, so did I. I've lived in the US close to 9 years. Never have I been discriminated at school, work or elsewhere. However, get this - the ones who "choose" to discriminate (to the point of being racist), are often Indians - most often to fellow countrymen. Who do you suppose discriminate Indians in the UAE for the most part? An Indian! I could list true to life experiences of your countrymen on this blog, you'd be ashamed. Of course, I'd think the majority aren't this way.

"it is imbecilic to actually believe that people have great preference for colour when it comes to dress, car, cats and dogs, but when it comes to humans themselves, they are colourless. nobody is justifying it, but get off your high horse."

You, did justify. Please, read the comment on freedom of 'preference'. High horse? You ought to pull your head off your ass.

"it does not mean they will act only upon it, or discriminate based on it. from a beauty point of view, they do have their preferences, and you will only be deluding yourself if you say no."

Does not act upon or discriminate? Do you realize the harm a silly stigma brings upon the many brilliant women folk in your country? Do you REALIZE, the subtle promotion of lightening products and cultural ways is your way of implying they are below par - that IS Racism, moron. It's completely different to having a boob/nip tuck. Do you realize perhaps the triggers & hysteria of 'racism' in the media are given the above?! I'm in such disbelief, you feel the need to justify something inhumane as 'preference' beyond personal, against your own kind and simultaneously wail away at 'racism' in Oz. Epitome of hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

after all this global gyan, would indeed love to see your photo with your partner, whenever there is one! just want to see how colour-proof and culture-proof you are yourself :-) Seeing is believing.

rosh said...

Oh dear Anon, where do you suppose the angst comes from? Seeing isn't believing - having lived through it is.

You, and most of your people should have a good hearted, hard look at the ills in your society. You'd be surprised on what you find.

Peace

Anonymous said...

As an Israeli, I am wholeheartedly in favour of everyone developing a backbone and manning up.

So it heartens me to see the Arabs on here showing a glimmer of this and I live in hope that we shall no longer see any further whining of Jewish injustice and racism from their quarter.