Indian students organise against racism

June 13, 2009

Green Left Weekly's Chris Peterson spoke to Indian student and Resistance activist Ajay Kumar who took part in the 5000-strong anti-racist protest in Melbourne on May 31.

Who organised the protest?

It was organised by the Federation of Indian Students of Australia, along with Pakistani and Sri Lankan student organisations. The main issue was to stop the attacks on Indian students.

Why did you attend?

Many of my friends have been attacked. One friend was attacked in Dandenong after refusing to give a person change. It is important to remember that there are many cases that have not come out. These attacks have been going on for two or three years, yet no one has done anything. I stayed at the protest from 12pm until 7pm.

It is very hard to find work with the financial crisis. [International students] are limited to 20 hours of work each week, yet often can't get jobs. Students pay lots of fees and taxes, yet are given nothing back, not even protection.

Many in the media have argued that these attacks are not racist. What do you think?

Some of these attacks are definitely racist, some not. Many international students are studying till 8 or 9pm then having to travel a long way home, making it more dangerous to travel.

Is student accommodation a problem?

Inner-city accommodation is too costly; students often have to live alone and with no protection. My friend had to move from Footscray after facing harassment.

What is your message to people in Australia?

Australia is making $2 billion a year off Indian students. The government and universities should ensure that they are protected. If Australia gives out visas to students, it has a responsibility to protect them.

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