The event marked white US terrorist Robert Aaron Long’s murder of six Asian women in Atlanta on March 17 and the rise of anti-Asian racism.
Brenda Gaddi, founder of Women of Colour read out the names of the six women: Suncha Kim, age 69, Yong Yue, age 63, Delaina Ashley Yaun, age 33, Paul Andre Michels, age 54, Xiaojie Tan, age 49, and Daoyou Feng, age 44. Gaddi described their families, their passions and their work.
Korean Australian writer and vigil organiser Shona Yang said grassroots action was needed “to prevent Atlanta-like shootings from happening here and … to put an end to the rise of racism against our community”.
Nathan Moran, Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO, expressed solidarity saying: “Our world is made up of ninety percent coloured people and only 10% is white. If we stand together, we are going to make ourselves free again like we were before 1789.”
From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese Australians reported a spike in incidents of racial hatred on public transport, online and in the streets.
These attacks were fuelled by racist headlines in Murdoch’s Herald-Sun and Daily Telegraph that racially labelled the corona virus as a ‘Chinese virus’. An online petition calling for the newspapers to apologise has gathered nearly 100,000 signatures.
A survey conducted by the Asian Australian Alliance last April recorded 178 incidents of racism in just two weeks. Common attacks included anti-Asian racial slurs, physical intimidation and verbal abuse in the form of questions like “Do you have coronavirus?” Individuals also reported being deliberately coughed or sneezed upon.
NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong called on the federal government to introduce more effective anti-racism laws, taking inspiration from new legislation in the US.
Benjamin Oh, Asian Australian Alliance National and Asian Australian Rainbow Alliance co-convenor, described the racism surge during the pandemic as “new manifestations” of longstanding anti-Asian hate. He said “anti-Asian hate has a long history in Australia” that can be “traced back to its roots before Federation all the way to the gold rush of the 1800s where Asians were treated terribly.”
The protest urged Multicultural Affairs Minister Alex Hawke and Prime Minister Scott Morrison to condemn anti-Asian racism.
A minute’s silence was held for the victims of Asian hate crimes.