There is no doubt that Indian students in Melbourne feel threatened, and there is evidence that some of the attacks on Indian students have been racially motivated. But it does not follow from either of these facts that there is widespread hostility to Indians in Australia, that racism is increasing, or that Melbourne is a more dangerous city than, say, Mumbai. On the contrary, all the available evidence attests to the fact that Australia generally, and its large cities like Melbourne and Sydney in particular, continue to become more culturally diverse and tolerant, as they have for many decades. And by global standards, the level of violent crime in Australian cities is low.
Nobody, but nobody, is willing to call a spade a spade and slam the perpetrators for what this is — latent racism in society coming to the fore. Everyone, the police first and foremost, is pussyfooting around the problem and trying to characterise the naked violence as anything but an expression of racial hostility.
As long as this goes on, we’ll continue to see more of such senseless violence in the suburbs. And it will embolden others in other regions of the country who have feelings of the same kind to express themselves with sticks, stones and knives.
It amazes me that the authorities don’t realise that the need of the hour is to out the cause. Yes, these savage beatings are one of the effects of a feeling of hostility within, fed by ill-informed radio jocks and others, over the perception that a foreign race is taking over the suburbs.
Not unexpectedly, following the peace rally and then occupation of the intersection of Flinders & Swanston Streets on Sunday evening/Monday morning — an action which was condemned by the Federation of Indian Students of Australia Inc. (FISA) — Victorian Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland ‘blamed a group of “rabble-rousers” for hijacking a peaceful demonstration, bringing in alcohol and weapons. He said most of them weren’t Indian and the situation got out of control.’
A statement, presumably, intended to explain why, in dispersing the crowd, police were forced to bust some heads. Witnesses claim “(There were) six (officers) to one guy who was sitting down peacefully, who was punched and dragged”; “a sitting protester was knocked unconscious by repeated punches to the head and another was hospitalised with a broken thumb”; approximately 18 were arrested.
Interviewed on 3AW, ‘When asked by Ross Stevenson whether the protest was ‘hijacked’ by people with different agendas, Overland confirmed this was the case. “I was down there late last night – and there were clearly people in there who had their own agenda and had little to do with the issue confronting Indian students,” he said. “I think [their] agenda is just to cause as much trouble as they can”.’
Other sources confirm the presence of foreign trouble-makers. Mick Armstrong of Socialist Alternative stated:
I was one of the organisers of the Indian student demo from the Melbourne Racism is Bad Coalition and I am also in Socialist Alternative.
The anarchist crazies involved in the ultra-violence were in no serious sense part of the demo. Just like their black bloc mates in Europe they simply exploited the demo for their own purposes.
Right throughout the lead-up to the demo they made clear their hostility to and contempt for other protesters. On the day they did all they could to disrupt the demonstration and were hostile, abusive, threatening and ultra-sectarian towards people on the demo.
Australia, fortunately, has not previously been blighted by the sort of black bloc anarchist activities which have had such a disastrous impact on demonstrations in Europe. These people are simply provocateurs that open up protests to police repression. In Europe their ranks have been riddled by police agents and fascists.
What gave them a certain critical mass at the Indian student demo was the presence of considerable numbers of anarchists from overseas. One of our members from New Zealand said he recognised at least 40 NZ anarchists. He knew at least 20 of them by name. There were also a considerable number of black bloc anarchists from Europe. We know of people from Sweden, Germany and England. These people are like football hooligans who travel the world looking for violence.
On top of that there were also a considerable number of anarchists from interstate.
Because of the behaviour of these provocateurs the media and the law and order brigade are having a field day.
The left should offer no comfort to these crazies. We should do whatever we can to isolate them. They are wreckers. If they grow in Australia it will simply make it harder to build future protests and movements.
Police figures reveal a 35 per cent increase in attacks on Indians between 2006/07 and 2007/08.
Statewide figures show 1,447 people of Indian origin were victims of crimes such as robberies and assaults in 2007/08, an increase from 1,082 the previous year.
There were a total of 36,765 victims in the state in 2007/08, according to Victoria Police.
(Take) Indians Out (For Dinner)
Vegetarian Nirvana Cafe (Richmond)
The Melbourne Veg Food Guide
The Melbourne Veg Food Guide explores the very best of meat-free dining in Melbourne and regional Victoria. Including over 80 easy-to-read reviews of vegetarian, vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants, this guide will help you to seek out good food no matter where you are. From the bustling inner city streets of Collingwood to the serenity of the foothills in Belgrave, The Melbourne Veg Food Guide covers it all. Melbourne was named Australia’s most vegan-friendly city in 2008 and this book is testament to the amazing eating the city has to offer. A must for all Victorian food-lovers.
See also : Cowboys and Indians, John Birmingham, Blunt Instrument (The Brisbane Times), June 2, 2009:
“…But while there have been some awful assaults on individuals visiting from the subcontinent, there’s no evidence of a co-ordinated racist campaign, or of disinterest by the state. The idea of communal or political complicity in the attacks is insane.
There have been co-ordinated racist campaigns against foreign students in Australia before. During the 1980s the neo-Nazi group Australian National Action was responsible for a number of attacks on Asian students in Sydney and Melbourne. The Nazis were smashed flat by a couple of Special Branch detectives after foolishly trying to intimidate the family of one police officer who’d been investigating them.
They’re still around, but their ranks tend to be bloated, literally, by a preponderance of fat, sad, middle aged losers without girlfriends, so you don’t find them on the party circuit where at least one of the most serious of the recent assaults took place. Nor were they likely to mug their victims for profit. The NA attacks of the 1980s were an underground, politically motivated hate campaign. But none of the same signifiers (posters, pamphlets, fire bombings etc) are present in these attacks…”
In which context, it’s also worth mentioning the fact that: 1. NA obtained new leadership — Michael De Brander — in 1991, following the gaoling of James Saleam — currently the leader of the Australia First Party (NSW Inc.). 2. NA opened a bookshop in the Melbourne suburb of Fawkner in January 1997; it closed in April 1998. 3. Australia First was founded in 1996 by former Labor MP Graeme Campbell. 4. Another major racist campaign of note was launched in WA by the Australian Nationalists Movement, under the leadership of Jack Van Tongeren. 5. A brief account of anti-/fascist activity in Melbourne during the 1990s is available here.