The Singaporean student brutally attacked in London last week has gone a step closer to justice as the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) releases surveillance photos of four men believed to be responsible for the incident.
Jonathan Mok, 23, was walking along Oxford Street around 9:15 p.m. on Feb. 24 when he came across a group of four young men, one of whom allegedly suggested that he was carrying the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
After an exchange of looks, the situation escalated into a physical confrontation, with the group — which reportedly included a woman — ganging up on Mok.
A few passersby stopped at the scene, but the group went on to assault the Singaporean national, giving him kicks and punches.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Mok recalled details of the incident while slamming racists for constantly finding excuses to “expound their hatred” — and this time in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“From refusing service to a Chinese-looking person to racially-motivated hate crimes, every single one of these acts are based on racism. People dismiss racism with statements such as ‘it’s not all of us — only a minority are racists and this does not reflect on a city/country.’ While factually true, not only it does not change the fact that this is an ugly problem that has plagued humanity for a very long time, but also it belittles this problem we have. Racism has changed it form and shape through the years and it is once again rearing its ugly head in light of the COVID-19 crisis,” he wrote.
After sustaining fractures in the face, the 23-year-old is expected to undergo reconstructive surgery.
“I had an X-ray scan and the doctor told me there was a broken bone around the right side of my face and that I will need to see a specialist,” he told the BBC.
On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) released CCTV images of the four male suspects. All are yet to be identified.
“This attack left the victim shaken and hurt. There’s no room on our streets for this kind of violent behaviour and we are committed to finding the perpetrators,” Detective Sergeant Emma Kirby said in a statement. “I am keen to speak to anyone who has information about this assault. I would like to identify and speak to the four men pictured who may be able to help me with our enquiries.”
Mok’s case is only one of a number of hate-related incidents that have occurred in the U.K. amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Ahead of his experience, a woman in Birmingham was attacked after confronting a man who racially-abused her friend, telling her to “take your f****** coronavirus back home,” according to the Independent.
Stop Hate UK, a hate crime awareness group, reported receiving increased calls regarding similar encounters.
“Stop Hate UK has recently received an increasing number of calls, across our helpline areas, from people experiencing racism, discrimination and verbal abuse, arising from perceptions that they are members of the Chinese community and therefore likely to be carriers of the coronavirus,” the group said in a statement.
The Singapore High Commission in London has been in contact with the MPS “at the highest level” to ensure Mok’s case is investigated with “utmost priority.”
“The Singapore High Commission is deeply disturbed by this incident, although we do not believe that the assault reflects the majority view of the British people in particular towards Singapore, given the close and special relationship between the UK and Singapore,” it said in a statement.