Melbourne News and events

Common decency

I was saddened to see the The Age: damage at Flinders Stdamage to the Flinders Street Station stained-glass windows on the news, from the protests by Indian students today, but I think it probably shows just how angry they are about the crimes against them. I’d be angry too.

Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe said there was a perception that Indian people were easy prey for criminals.

“I don’t think they are (racist crimes) in general . . . We think the majority of these things occur through opportunistic activity,” he said.

Herald Sun 30/5/2009

I think perhaps Walshe is using too narrow a definition of “racist”.

He seems to be of the view that unless the motivation for the crime is the hate of a race, it’s not racist.

He might well be right that it’s not an inherent hate of Indians that’s behind it. But if criminals are targeting members of a specific race as victims, because they are believed to be more vulnerable and more likely to be carrying valuables, is that not racism?

racism — 1. The belief that each race has distinct and intrinsic attributes.

Sounds like it to me.

In any case, enough pussy-footing about.

Until this stops, how about getting teams of TravelSafe staff and police on every single train and every single station after dark on the most vulnerable lines (Sydenham and Werribee), as well as on stations at any other trouble spots.

If specific people in our community are being targeted, common decency dictates that we have an obligation to ensure they are protected.

And if you prefer to take the economic rationalist view, the overseas education industry is worth $15.5 billion per year, and is our third-largest export industry, and given its reputation is at risk, that needs protecting too.

PS. Wednesday: Here’s another interesting viewpoint: Dr [Yadu] Singh, who heads a committee at the Indian consulate looking at Indian student issues, labelled the reporting “irresponsible”. … He feared the outrage could mask the genuine issues faced by Indian students, who Dr Singh said were over-represented in robbery statistics in Melbourne and also faced exploitation by employers.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

8 replies on “Common decency”

I was a bit upset about the damage done to our Station, if they are trying to win support for their cause, this is not the way to do it. If I threw a rock at the Taj, I would expect to be thrown in jail, deported and told never to return. (and the Aust government not to bail ne out)

Instead these people are expecting some attention to their cause; it will back fire on them Big time, and it will make the “rednecks” target them more. Which is a shame, because I am sure most of them are decent people, and they are highlighting a bigger problem of safety in Melbourne.

I was gobsmacked hearing the number of attacks on Indian students.

Listening to talk back radio though I heard some interesting things, albeit from Indian callers. One thing being that at least some of these attacks are carried out by other minority ethnic groups (Islanders was one example given). It’s interesting to me that we hear the words ‘racist’ and ‘Indian’, and the immediate assumption is that white Australians are going out of their way to attack Indian students…whereas this one particular caller indicated that wasn’t the case but these were often opportunistic attacks on students coming home late at night, in poor suburbs (because that’s where students can afford to live) that aren’t well policed.

It sounds bad – and it is – but I wonder if it’s more the circumstances that immigrant students find themselves in (coming home late, alone, living in poorer neighbourhoods) etc that make them a target, rather than being Indian per se.

Not sure that we are going to know the answer to that.

I agree with Daniel, these are racist attacks. I think it’s pretty bad the way we treat these students, we have major Universities and Colleges making a truck load of money from these people, but we can’t even get them home safely at night.

Even if the police don’t think they are racist based, there are just too many of the attacks to not do anything about it. I see on the weekend that the Indian PM has been in contact with our PM about it, that means they view it quite seriously which could jeopardise our future education market.

So maybe the Education sector could/should chip in for some security on these late nigh trains.

While these could be race based attacks, that Wiktionary definition of racism is incomplete and is consequently incorrect. To be racism, a belief that a trait is inherent in a race must be accompanied by a belief that a trait makes one race superior to another.

@Paul – Universities aren’t rich, most are almost broke half the time.
The only reason international students are so important is that the government doesn’t fund universities properly therefore they have to make up the shortfall with the fees from international students.

This is starting to really p!ss me off. What about all the other people who are getting attacked, robbed, threatened and killed? They’re not Indian so they don’t count? Certainly seems that way to me at present. Why should we make a big deal about the Indians getting home safely when *I* can’t even get home safely? Or when there’s people being stabbed in broad daylight at Flinders St Station?

I don’t think they’re attacks based on race. It’s based on vulnerability. 9 times out of ten you’ve got an Indian working the graveyard shifts in crap areas at 7/11. Most of the time it’s the international kids coming back from late shifts and evening work. Everyone who is out an about on their own or in small groups are targets for these twunts.

Daniel, are you for real? Surely your trying to impress a girl with these comments cause you seriously cant be on the level. The only ones that are making this a race issue are the protesters themselves.

In my eyes it is simply a single person being targeted on a train, it is not racially motivated. Any single person on a train is vunerable, be it someone of Indian decent, Africian decent, Scandinavian decent, Australian decent or any decent to be honest. A group of morons see someone vunerable on a train they are not looking at them as Indians, they are looking at them as a target. (which is the main issue here)

If a caucasian gets attacked on a train is it labelled a ‘race crime’? No Its lablled ‘crime’. If an American tourist gets attacked on a train is it a race crime? No it is just a crime. If someone of European heritage gets attacked on a train is it a race crime? No its just a crime. Just just so happens that a large number of people travelling on public transport at night are of Indian decent (be it students going home, or those working late shifts in their work) so therefore the odds are against them when it comes to being a target.

Has anyone actually got any figures of how many attacks on those of Indian descent there have been? From my view there seems to be two!!! Have there been others? I am sure there has been, but do we have figures on how many of those of non-Indian decent that have been attacked? I bet there have been more. Prove me wrong I dare you!! I bet you cant do it.

Crime is the issue. And on this does that make Melbourne an unsafe city? Compared to the rest of the world, hell no!! Many cities in the world would love to be as safe as Melbourne. Im not saying Melbourne is the safest, but compared to many cities in America, Asia, India, Europe, Africa we are a city of candy canes and tinkerbells. For a group to complain about the safety in Melbourne is a joke.

Finally to think that a sit in is going to get people on your side, are you for real. Yeah lets get people on our side by causing chaos. Hmmm, you just made yourself look like immature children.

I’d agree that the sit-in, and particularly the willful damage, probably got people off-side.

There have been more than two attacks against Indians. There have been media reports of at least two in just the past week, and there have been a number before that. And they are over-represented in the victim statistics:

Vic Police: Police currently believe about 30 per cent of robbery victims in Region 2, Division 1 are of Indian appearance. … “While Victoria Police acknowledges the Indian community are over represented as victims, there is no evidence to support Indians are targeted or vilified because of their ethnicity,” Insp Mahony said.

There’s always a need to do more about crime, no matter who the victims are. But it does appear that Indians are being targetted — not necessarily because the criminals hate Indians, and not because there are more of them out late at night (they don’t appear to be in the majority when I’m out late), but because they are seen as easy victims.

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