As we focus on racism in international context here this week, a few news items from outside the U.S.caught my eye. A quick trip around the globe:
- Australia – The Herald Sun reports that a group linked to white supremacists is calling for a Melbourne rally “against immigrants and Islam.” Police say they will not tolerate any breach of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act, and the organisers of the rally planned for next month need to quickly close down their Facebook page. And, speaking of Facebook, Australian-based researcher Dr. Andre Oboler has authored a report on “Antisemitism Online.” Once again, most other democracies are well ahead of the U.S. in combatting such hatred.
- Scotland (UK) – According to the BBC News, two men were injured in a violent, racist attack in Aberdeen. The attackers were all believed to be in their mid-teens.
- Hong Kong – A British man living in Hong Kong, Martin Jacques, author of best-seller “When China Rules the World”, accused the city’s hospital staff of racism after his Indian-Malaysian wife, Harinder Veriah, died. Mr. Jacques said that the hospital staff failed to give timely treatment to his wife because of her race. The hospital agreed to a settlement.
- Japan – Racism and discrimination are commonplace in Japan, according to Jorge Bustamante, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants. Bustamante urged greater efforts to protect the rights of immigrants in Japan. Problem areas included immigrant detention centers, work programs that exploit foreign industrial trainees, and a lack of educational services for many migrant children.
- Germany – A recently released report from the GDR finds that members of the German extreme right committed about 20,000 crimes in 2009, reported the Secretary of the Interior Thomas De Maizire. This is the highest figure since 2001, when they began keeping records of such crimes. According to deputy of the Die Linke (the left) party, the figures demonstrate that the government’s campaigns to combat the extreme right have failed.
- India-Britain(UK) – An Equality Bill in the UK would make caste discrimination illegal, equating it with racism. Until now victims of caste discrimination in Britain have had no recourse to law. India also has legislation outlawing caste discrimination but is fiercely opposed to any comparison with racism. The bill is being welcomed by campaigners for India’s “dalits” or “untouchables”, a caste which suffers extreme violence and persecution, but has been rejected by their government. There are more than 250 million dalits in India, many of whom are denied water, access to schools, and in some cases the right to pass through villages by upper caste Hindus who believe their presence, or even their shadow, pollutes them. Some dalits in India still work as “night soil carriers” – transporting human waste from latrines. One prominent dalit campaigner had his arms and legs amputated because he refused to withdraw a police complaint against higher caste men who had raped his daughter. Officials in London have become increasingly concerned about discrimination and persecution against lower caste Indians in Britain following a report last year which claimed thousands had been ill-treated because of their caste. A report by the Anti-Caste Discrimination Alliance surveyed 300 British Asians and cited cases of children being bullied at school, bus inspectors refusing to work with lower caste drivers, and employees being sacked after their bosses discovered their caste status. Until now victims of caste discrimination in Britain have had no recourse in the law. India also has legislation outlawing caste discrimination but is fiercely opposed to any comparison with racism.
- Cuba – A replica of the historic Cuban slave ship Amistad, which was taken over by the Africans aboard in 1839, is visiting Cuba, where academics and community leaders have begun to publicly debate the problem of racial discrimination that has not been stomped out in Cuban society.
The point of this series is not to diminish the importance of racism in the U.S., but rather to expand our view to see how it is connected to manifestations in other places beyond our usual focus.