TODAY -

End Bigotry and Racism : Stop Hate in the Time of Corona

30th March, 2020



Urgent Statement for Release (Monday, 30th March 2pm)
Statement against racial hate crimes in the time of Corona pandemic and lockdown


Besides fear, uncertainty and overwhelming shortages of food and medical resources, the Coronavirus global pandemic is also accompanied by numerous instances of bigotry and racism across the world against East and South East Asians. With some regimes opting to deliberately refer to it as the ‘Chinese’ virus, one cannot miss the invisible conservative state approval of this cruelty.

In mainland India, racial attacks and slurs have been directed at people from the North Eastern region of India, always. They are politically appropriated as Indians and socially ostracised for not being ‘Indian’ enough. Even the Tibetan community, provided legitimate political asylum by India and the Nepalese migrant workers, are victims of this racial targeting. The times of Corona seem to have made matters worse, with multiple reports of physical and verbal abuse and racial profiling coming from Gujarat, Pune, Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Dehradun, to name a few of the major cities.

Members from the community, including University students, have reported that they have been called ‘Chinese’, ‘Corona’ and other racial slurs. In some cases, when offenders were confronted for their racism, the response was to cover their faces and walk or run away, to show hysterical fear, or to laugh away the accusation.

There have also been instances when those with distinctly Mongoloid features have been spat at by miscreants from moving vehicles. Many were maliciously targeted and attacked during Holi, being called ‘Corona’ and such slurs.

Besides these widely reported racist attacks, families have also been asked to not come to grocery shops and other public places. Delivery ‘executives’ have also been told to be hesitant in taking orders from their restaurants and delivering to their homes.

The United North East Residents' Forum also shared an incident where a family from Manipur was denied accommodation in Delhi because the house owners believed they were from China.

We believe this racism is directed against the diverse lifestyle, dress, language, food varieties and cultural patterns of the different communities who have for long been inhabitants of the Brahmaputra/Siang basin.

A foundation of bigotry, cultural prejudice and racist attitudes among mainland Indians has long fostered such hostility and criminal ignorance. Lack of knowledge, information and interest about the region, people, their culture and history has ensured such actions continued undeterred.

Adding to this historical lacuna of understanding are irrational social media circulations which claim, among other outrageous things, that Coronavirus is a global attack by China. We condemn sections of Indian media continuing to use ‘Chinese Virus’ language propelling and endorsing the racist hatred.

There are also social media messages that are circulated about how the virus is an outcome of the eating habits of people of East or South East Asian origin. It is no surprise people believe what they see on social media when the Prime Minister himself quotes from fake news in the Parliament.

We condemn such messages and urge the governments to take strict action against those who are indulging in such racial abuse using social media.

We demand that central and state governments show no tolerance against offenders, responding with appropriate punitive action.

We also request citizens to intervene when members of the community are being harassed and intimidated, by speaking up against offenders and onlookers, as well as helping the aggrieved inform the authorities. Government must address the racial prejudices within the police department and paramilitary forces and instructions be given for strict adherence to rule of law and protection of all citizens.

While most media has been prompt in its reportage of racist attacks against people from the North Eastern states of India and authorities have taken some action in a few cases, it is unlikely to quell attacks and insults in the long run. There is need for a deeper engagement, which involves mainlanders abandoning racial prejudices.

If India, as we claim, is a country that belongs to the ‘people’ and if the ‘people of India’ comprise those living on all frontiers, then the mainlanders have no business selling their culture as the ‘definitive and only’ Indian culture. Either the culture of the frontiers is Indian culture or the frontiers don’t belong to India.

We commit to make available, a list of written and audio-visual material for interested citizens to better inform themselves about the political history of the Brahmaputra/Siang basin, which has morphed into the ‘north-east of India’, in precisely those minds which do not even accept the people from the region as Indian.

Those interested in escaping the shroud of ignorance should also talk to their neighbours, children, and community members. A sensible society, based on nuanced thought, scientific temperament, and access to information is the best deterrent against racial prejudice. It is as important as Indians shedding casteism, xenophobia, and disrespect to people from lower strata of the society.

Statement issued by Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG), with endorsements from:

All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP),
National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM),
National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF),
Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace & Democracy (PIPFPD),
Muslim Women’s Forum (MWF),
Campaign for Justice & Peace (CJP),
Aman Biradari,
Common Teachers Forum,
ANHAD,
National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR),
Social Security Now (SSN),
People’s Watch,
Human Rights Defenders Alert - India.


* This Press Release was sent to e-pao.net by Ishwor Adhikari who can be contacted at ishwor(AT)delhiforum(DOT)net
This Press Release was posted on 31st March 2020

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