Friday, December 11, 2009

Stabbings and bashings of Indians in Melbourne continue unabated

There seems no stop to the number of attacks on men of South Asian descent in Melbourne. The phenomenon has faded from the headlines since midyear, but the violence continues nonetheless.

Early yesterday an Indian taxi driver was stabbed in the chest while sitting in his parked vehicle in West Brunswick, by an unknown assailant. The man is in a serious condition, and police are investigating whether it was in relation to a road rage incident. Story here.

A separate incident occurred 2:15am on Sunday, when a taxi driver picked up three men from Fitzroy, who wished to go to Ivanhoe. The men became aggressive, demanding he drive through a set of red lights; when he refused they punched him, damaged the taxi and fled. The driver has not been identified as Indian but the picture (above) seems to indicate a South Asian background. Story here.

Another young Indian man was hospitalised for 5 days after a savage attack in Footscray. (His ethnicity has not been widely reported, but a Herald-Sun article referred to him as being Indian.) He was approached by two armed youths, in the middle of the afternoon, who demanded money. When he produced only the 20 cents he had in his hand, he was stabbed 14 times the upper body, neck, arms and face. One of the attackers, a 15-year-old from St Albans, has been apprehended. The other is still at large, described as 185cm tall, skinny, Caucasian with brown hair.

These attacks come after a recent attack in late November on an Indian couple in Bundoora, apparently by neighbours, which was accompanied by a torrent of racial abuse. I posted on that here.

In early November an Indian student was attacked in Ballarat; Sai Ratan Tiwari was walking with a friend when they were accosted by two locals. They asked the Indians where they were going, and when Tiwari replied that they were just going home, the Australians punched him, saying "In this place there is no home for you." Full story here.

How much these attacks were racist in nature is unclear, and varies. The latter two described here seem almost certainly racially motivated. The stabbing in Footscray and the attacks on the taxi drivers are not necessarily racist. You could easily argue that rather than being specifically targeted, Indians are just in the wrong place at the wrong time, since the are highly represented in jobs (like taxi driving) which put them at risk of attack. However I think it is fair to say that being Indian seems to put them more at risk. Simply being different, and in the case of taxi drivers having poorer English than a locally-born driver, makes them an easier target.

There is a lot of dissatisfaction with the level of service from taxi drivers in Melbourne, for which many people are keen to blame Indians. (This is not entirely without foundation - a substantial number of drivers are very recent arrivals who lack knowledge about the city's roads and certain driving conventions.) But this also means that when a taxi driver is attacked, you can hear people justifying it on the grounds that "well, the taxi driver was probably rude or tried to rip him off". Which is a load of crap - I get poor service at Chinese restaurants all the time, but I don't stab the waiting staff.

The above incidents do fly in the face of claims that those responsible for this violence are mostly "ethnics" themselves; a point of view favoured by right-wing commentators like Andrew Bolt. While some of the attacks on Indians have certainly come from people of African, Middle-Eastern, Asian and Pacific Islander backgrounds, white people have been well represented also - more or less proportional to their overall numbers in the community. Folks on the right have an agenda to deny that racism exists in Australia; or when it does exist, its mostly just "those ethnics" who are responsible anyway. In other words, people who, despite having grown up and been educated here, are somehow not really Australian.


  1. None of these incidents have even the hint of racial motivation to them. There are lots of Australians bashed and robbed on a daily basis, but this doesn't make the news, because its not interesting. Whats more, 90% of these apparent "race bashings" happen in the middle of the night in dark and lonely places. The simple fact is this, if you're gonna walk down dark streets, by yourself, in the middle of the night, carrying a $2000 laptop over your shoulder, you're asking for trouble. I was in the city the other night, and 90% of the people who were still out at 11pm, were of South Asian descent. And to say that this view is ony supported by "right-wing commentators" is also ignorant, because even Gurdip Aurora, the President of the Australia India Society of Victoria said they were not racially motivated. The simple fact is this, if you're not happy with the level of police protection in our county (as its the same for everyone) feel free to leave. No-ones making you stay.

  2. @ James - did you actually read what I wrote? I call bullshit on you on several points.

    "None of these incidents have even the hint of racial motivation to them."

    Um, of the 5 incidents I mentioned, one was accompanied by a lot of racist abuse. Another included the phrase "In this place there is no home for you."
    On face value, there is a pretty clear argument that those two are racially motivated. Of the others, I never said they were racially motivated. But then again, how do you know they were not?

    My comment about "right-wing commentators" was about the contention that Caucasians are not responsible for any of these attacks. Which they clearly are in these cases. Don't make up something I didn't say and call me ignorant.

    "Gurdip Aurora... said they were not racially motivated." With respect to him, how does he know? How do you know? Clearly, not all of the attacks on Indians have been racially motivated. Some clearly have been. I'm just collecting the evidence, and you can make up your own mind.

    "if you're not happy with the level of police protection in our county (as its the same for everyone) feel free to leave. No-ones making you stay."

    Are you satisfied with the level of policing in this country? I'm not. Most people are not, and won't be until everyone can walk Melbourne's streets without the fear of getting bashed. What you are implying is that no one who lives here has the right to demand better services from the State. I'm sorry but that's complete crap. Thanks to Indian students agitating for better conditions, police upped the level of security around public transport. That's a victory for everyone.

    If you don't like what I write on my blog, feel free to leave. No one's making you stay.

  3. hi yeah its been a while since all this shit happend but i can tell you most the attacks in melbourne then around the western suburbs alot of it werent racial motivated attacks in footscray well if u go to footscray to attack some is going to be a indian or pakie some sort of ethnic i say all this because i was involved in the armed robbery where the man was stabbed 14times for 20cents im the youth that as u said then still at large i got charged and all that couple days later after my friend at the time got arrested it was not racial one bit money was the case and was the case for most of the attacks, it was reported guy gave us 20cents it was a dollar it was reported in different media's how many times he was stabbed one said 21 other said 17 next it was 14 and 14 is right the man had 400$ on him theres alot more details that were never cleared up all that doesnt matter but my point is media doesnt report exactly what happend and turn something thats nuthig thats everyday life in melbourne to sell a story dont belive what the media tells u yes some of it was racial motivated but after media made big story and people started thinkin ima do that good idea or maybe i might be on television when first story broke out bout it i can tell u if u actually ask the suspects why they did it 85% say it wasnt racially motivated, belive me or not belive me that i was second youth involved but why else would i comment bout your blog bout this shit now and also the guy who stabbed the guy got 3years let out in ayear 7months me i got a 6month supervision order becoz it was first time i had been busted for a crime and also the prosecution stuffed up but u guys never hear bout that in media and how the judge threw the victims statement out of the case because there were alot of faults in it. felt like i should say something because unlike you i actually know what im talking bout becoz im involved in this shit unlike someone who just reads paper and watches the news and blogs bout it thinking it means something i like ur blog here it makes me laugh on how much of an outsider :P (most attacks werent not racial just opportunistic get it right people)