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International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination

March 21, 2020 9:01 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination - and this year, the importance of this day has been brought into stark focus more than ever before.

The Liberal Democrats will always fight for freedom, fairness and equality for people of all races and ethnicities in the UK.

With the world facing the biggest public health crisis of the twenty-first century, what the UK desperately needs are compassionate communities that look after one another, regardless of people's race and background.

While so many stories of kindness are emerging, very sadly this has not been the case for everyone. In recent weeks we have seen a huge rise in racism against East Asian people following the coronavirus outbreak. Tweets from so-called world leaders such as Donald Trump calling it 'The Chinese virus' adds fuel to the hatred and fear.

In Manchester, there have been reports of racist targeting of Chinese children. In Birmingham and Central London Chinese students were seriously assaulted. Up and down the country, East Asian people have reported being spat at or verbally abused with comments relating to the coronavirus - even East Asian health workers have not escaped this rising tide of hatred.

The media aren't helping. Last week I filed a complaint with the BBC over their use of images of Chinese people when reporting on the outbreak, regardless of where in the world they were covering. They aren't the only ones. Newspapers and other outlets have been full of pictures of Chinese and East Asian people in masks, adding to the fear and prejudice being shown towards our community.

BBC and Coronavirus reporting. Please do not use images of Chinese people in the backdrop to news reports as it fuels prejudice against the British Chinese community. https://t.co/T0Dt5QYG31

- ChineseLibDems (@ChineseLibDems) March 11, 2020

Unfortunately, this treatment isn't unusual for ethnic minorities in the UK.

Since the EU referendum in 2016, racism and race-related hate crimes have been on the rise. The Conservatives' hostile environment policy has made ethnic minority communities in our country fearful. The Windrush scandal and recent high-profile deportations have shown that this government is systematically trying to break apart our diverse communities and sew division.

In recent weeks we have seen a huge rise in racism against East Asian people following the coronavirus outbreak.

If this were to continue then I fear that there will be serious economic consequences with would-be investors and students from East Asia staying away as well as mass social unrest resulting from a recession due to the double whammy of Brexit and Coronavirus.

As a country, we need to do better. The Liberal Democrats will always fight for freedom, fairness and equality for people of all races and ethnicities in the UK. Just like I acted throughout my police career to tackle racism and my recent calling out of the BBC for discriminatory reporting, we each need to challenge discrimination wherever we see it. And as Lib Dems, the more of us who add our voices to this cause, the stronger we become.

Dr George Lee was the 2019 Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Westminster North and is a member of the Chinese Liberal Democrats.