Take Action Against Anti-Asian Racism in Ireland

Take Action Against Anti-Asian Racism in Ireland

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Anti-Asian Racism Ireland started this petition to Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and

*This petition builds on our previous GoogleDoc open letter - please sign this petition instead*

Objectives

This is an open letter to alert universities in Ireland to the recent increase in anti-Asian racist harassment, crimes, and xenophobic sentiment. We urge universities to take action, to defend and protect the equal rights of Asians and other ethnic minorities in this country.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, a growing number of violent acts against Asian people have been documented. Irish Network Against Racism (INAR) report shows an increase in racist crimes: 700 reported cases, which include 60 coronavirus-related racist incidents in the first four months of 2020. A significant portion of incidents relating to racism, however, go unreported. Hate speech, both online and offline, has exacerbated societal and racial tensions. It is imperative for universities, institutions, and community-based organisations to offer timely support and resources to Asian ethnic groups who continue to encounter racism in their daily lives in Ireland.

Within Ireland, there is a large Asian community who were born here. Those who also choose to live, study and conduct their livelihood in Ireland make great contributions to this country. Hate-fuelled ideas and advocacy coarsen public discourse, weakening the social fabric of communities and threaten democratic values, social stability, and peace. We urgently call on strong support and assistance from within Trinity and from all sectors of Irish society as each of us deserve to be heard, respected, and valued. We appeal to prohibiting advocacy of national and racial hatred that convenes on issues of incitement to discrimination, hostility, and/or violence.

Background

Throughout Ireland, Asian communities have been targeted with racist abuse since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. These incidents include Xuedan (Shelly) Xiong being pushed into the Royal Canal in Dublin and Martin Hong and Arthur Ma being physically assaulted in Cork, August 2020. Most recently, on March 29, 2021, a group of teenagers threw a rubbish bag on Mina Choi on Henry Street in Dublin, filming their actions while jeering at her. 

However, the most tragic incident involved the death of Urantsetseg Tserendorj, a Mongolian woman who worked as a cleaner and was stabbed near the IFSC in Dublin on her way home on January 20, 2021. Despite being taken to hospital, she later died on February 3, 2021.

A majority of Asian staff and students within universities have reported encountering acts of discrimination and racism brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. A young woman was attacked in Dublin by a group of girls shouting, “you brought the virus here”, while her friend had experienced people shouting the words “virus, virus” at her. In another case, a Dublin-based student was verbally abused on the Luas by three male teenagers who told him he brought the virus to Ireland. The student was afraid to defend himself because he was outnumbered. Since this incident, the student has not left his accommodation for fear of further abuse. Pharmacy students have detailed their over-the-counter racism, wherein Asian staff were treated with hostility and disdain while performing their regular job responsibilities of treating the Irish public. While Jun Ni, a lecturer at the Technological University Dublin, said a man in a department store covered his mouth and nose when she and a Chinese friend passed by him. A Korean Youtuber reports how a number of Korean exchange students experienced racism from their professor. In the recorded clip, the voice of the professor can be heard asking about the currency of Korea, in which students replied, “won,” to which the professor responded with  “corona.” When the Korean students were hesitant to answer a question, the professor joked how it might be because they caught the coronavirus. Jin Yong, a Chinese/Korean artist who has lived in Ireland for nearly 20 years told the press that he has never seen such high levels of intolerance and abuse towards the Chinese community. He witnessed one young woman in Dublin being punched and spat at by a group of resentful girls. 

These sentiments can likewise be found in Irish Media. The Independent.ie used a photo in relation to an Asian female face wearing a face cover to report an irrelevant news story. “Workers are told to maintain 'social distance' from public to avoid coronavirus spread”. A complaint was made by the Graduate Students’ Union of Trinity College Dublin, but the Independent.ie presented a flagrant disregard to this matter. The Irish Sunday Mirror, similarly referred to Covid-19 as the “China Virus” in their headlines, perpetuating the associations of the virus with a certain ethnic group.

Despite the signs and symptoms of rampant racism towards Asian communities in Ireland, no action has been taken to ensure the safety and well-being of people affected by it.

Our Appeal for Social, Political, and Collegiate Participation

These heartbreaking incidents are disastrous moments for the Asian communities in Ireland. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the world has seen a shocking level of racism stemming from xenophobia; Ireland is no exception. We appeal to all universities and community-based institutions in Ireland and the Irish government to tackle this problem at the root.

Call for Action from Universities

  • Publish a public statement against xenophobia, anti-Asian racism, and racism towards people of colour and other ethnic minorities on campus.
  • Publish statistics of complaints of racism regularly and disclose how these cases have been dealt with.
  • Provide sufficient information and support resources regarding harassment, discrimination and hate crimes against students and staff from minority ethnic groups.
  • Offer timely support to students experiencing or witnessing racial harassment, discrimination and assault.
  • Promote counselling services for racial trauma and minority ethnic issues.

Call for Action from the Government

Regular public discussions of racism are important. More importantly, legislation on incitement to hatred and hate crime should be formulated and a renewed national action plan against racism is strongly needed by all communities in Ireland.

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