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New Zealand does not condone racial abuse, says envoy

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New Delhi: New Zealand does not condone racial abuse in any form, the country’s Acting High Commissioner to India, Suzannah Jessep, said on Tuesday after an Indian in Auckland said he was assaulted, spat at and subjected to racist slurs during a road rage incident.

“New Zealand does not condone race-based abuse in any form. The comments reported do not reflect the views of the vast majority of New Zealanders, who celebrate and embrace New Zealand’s diversity and multicultural character,” said Jessep in a statement.

She said her country has a strong track record in human rights matters, and was ranked first globally for tolerance for immigrants, community safety, and religious tolerance in the 2016 Social Progress Index (SPI). Nearly 90 per cent of migrants in New Zealand say they feel they belong to New Zealand and the vast majority of New Zealand citizens believe the country’s culture, society and economy are improved by immigrants.

On the Indian diaspora, she said: “New Zealand is home to a thriving Indian diaspora (representing four per cent of New Zealand’s population), whose members are represented in government, the police force, civil society groups, business, education and elsewhere. Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is the fourth most culturally diverse city in the world – more diverse than even London and New York, according to the 2015 World Migration Report. Hindi is also the fourth most widely spoken language in New Zealand. For these particular cases, media have reported that complaints have been laid with the Police, and it is important that this process be allowed to continue independently.”

Indian national, Narindervir Singh, said he was filming from inside his vehicle when the incident happened last week, reported local news service Newshub on Monday.

Singh streamed the incident live on Facebook.

Singh said he was abused, sworn at and told to go back to his own country, the report said.

“It really shocked me and after he [left], I was really shaken,” Singh told the news service.

“I don’t know what to do, it really hurts my heart … The first thing in my mind was that he might hurt me with some weapon.”

Another man, Bikramjit Singh, suffered similar abuse last week as he left a Papatoetoe storage facility, reported Newshub.

A man who claimed Bikramjit was speeding yelled at him, saying: “Go back to your f*****g country – slow down! You know what the speed limit is here.”

However, Bikramjit said he wasn’t speeding, is a New Zealand citizen and has lived here for more than a decade.

“[It made me feel] so sad because New Zealand is so beautiful – there are lovely people here.”

The man who hurled abuse at Bikramjit ended up apologising in an email.

However, those who work with migrants say such discrimination appears to be increasing, said the report.

“We are seeing it much more openly which is a very serious concern,” said Anu Kaloti from the Migrant Workers Association.

“I think societies are becoming more and more intolerant, especially since Trump was elected President of the US.”

Both men have filed complaints with the police.

IANS

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