The novel coronavirus is rapidly spreading across the world and unfortunately, this has also led to an increase in racially motivated assaults against Asians.
Disclaimer: The story contains graphic photos of abuse that the readers might find distressing.
As the news about a 'mystery' virus in Wuhan began spreading in December 2019, a significant rise in racists assaults against Asians in the US was noticed. Currently, with over 199,000 confirmed cases globally, the World Health Organization officially announced that the novel coronavirus has become a pandemic. While many are now taking precautionary measures like practicing social distancing and postponing travel, others are contributing to racially motivated attacks on people of Asian descent. Victims of these crimes have taken to social media to share their stories of both verbal and physical assaults against them. Using the hashtag #JeNeSuisPasUnVirus, which translates to "I am not a Virus" in French, many are showing their support for people who have been viciously attacked amidst the deadly outbreak of coronavirus. Everyday cases of misinformed attacks and wide-spread panic are being reported and the most recent one comes from Australia.
The NYPD and the Hate Crime Task Force encourage the victim to report this incident to the police for a full investigation. https://t.co/4Qb4XHVj3Z— NYPD Hate Crimes (@NYPDHateCrimes) February 5, 2020
A fencing teacher from Australia, Mark Holgate, expressed how "ashamed" he was "to be Australian" after his student was attacked for speaking in a different language. Three days ago a Chinese student of mine was cowardly assaulted for walking down the street speaking another language, wrote Holgate in a Facebook post. This is Constantine, and he's one of the nicest people I've met, and it's been a privilege to train and fence with him. Now that's all over, he won't be fencing for a long time. The coward who attacked him, spewing racist trash and telling him to speak English, smashed a huge section of his cheekbone, and he's going to need serious and expensive facial reconstruction surgery to keep from losing the eye.
Student who was racially attacked by men who shouted 'coronavirus' at him shares moving message https://t.co/dwfldlPNdr— Manchester News MEN (@MENnewsdesk) March 3, 2020
The student, who has to undergo expensive facial reconstructive surgery to save his eye, came to Australia from China just to learn the historical art of fencing. I'm just gutted for him. Well done Australia, way to encourage tourism, he continued. Condemning attackers who are simply using the virus as an excuse to indulge in racially motivated violence, he wrote: Our country has an ugly history of racism. Challenge it and call it out. And look after your Asian friends, the corona virus is just another excuse that's stirring up racist violence. Thankfully "the assailant was stupid, coming back to the scene of the crime, and was apprehended by police," he added. Holgate created a GoFundMe page to raise money for Constantine's medical treatment.
On February 18, a British-Chinese actor and filmmaker Lucy Sheen took to Twitter and shared a sickening account "when a complete stranger whispered in my ear ‘why don’t you f— off back 2 China & take ur filth with you.'" In an interview with the Mirror, she revealed that a white male passenger whispered the same in her ears while she was on a bus. "In my case, what shocked me was the stealth – the fact that this person had obviously made a decision to say what he did but do it in a covert manner," said Sheen who was completely taken aback by this behavior.
Video shot [email protected] Happened on 2/1/2020. Headed home with a friend. He directed his coronavirus rant at me for 15 mins.There were other men on the train, they avoided eye contact with me. I felt trapped and scared. This was my first. #JeNeSuisPasUnVirus #IamNotAVirus pic.twitter.com/cjkMCoYvRa— tanny jiraprapasuke (@jiraprapasuke) February 5, 2020
"If he’d shouted that out I can deal with that, I could have handled that," she continued. "It’s like any form of bias, prejudice or racism that is undercover, ingrained, institutionalized or structural, it’s very very hard to challenge or to try and change those entrenched views." Sheen feels that the political climate has a lot to do with it. "In the current climate along with the current government and what they seem to be supporting, it has given a great excuse for anti-East Asian sentiments and [something for] racists to hang their racism upon," she added.
This disgusts and angers me. Sorry that it happened to you Lucy. Take care xx— Anna Krauze (@krauze_anna) February 18, 2020
Silawattakun, who moved to London from Thailand ten years ago, was left with a broken nose after being attacked by teenagers on the street. "I heard a voice from the left-hand side, and when I looked over there was someone filming me. I didn’t hear what they were saying yet but as I started noticing what the sounds were, it was just ‘coronavirus’ being repeatedly shouted at me," he told BBC London. "Before I got the chance to say anything, another teen ran up from behind me and grabbed the headphones from my neck. [The teen] didn’t run away immediately. He took the headphones and then he looked back at me and started laughing. He didn’t run away." He then explained how he was punched in the face and remembers how his glasses flew off due to the impact that left him with a broken nose. Now, he feels uncomfortable to live in the city which he calls home.
Artist and designer An Nguyen, who was assumed to be carrying the virus, was asked to leave a U.K. art fair and told that her assistance was no longer required, according to The Guardian. "I am very sorry to have to cancel your assistance at the fair next week. The coronavirus is causing much anxiety everywhere, and fairly or not, Asians are being seen as carriers of the virus," read the message that Nguyen received from the art dealer and curator Raquelle Azran. "Your presence on the stand would, unfortunately, create hesitation on the part of the audience to enter the exhibition space. I apologize for this and hope we can meet and perhaps work together in future," continued the email, the screenshots of which was immediately uploaded by her on Twitter.
I wanted to share this beautiful message and art from @RicardoCavolo: #JeNeSuisPasUnVirus ['I am not a virus']. Please don't reduce yourself to racism and hate during a time when everyone could use some kindness ❤ pic.twitter.com/WyAimRYyF6— Sarah Murfitt (@sarah_murfitt) March 4, 2020
If you’ve been a victim of such attacks or have witnessed one, please contact your local authorities.