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.