Experts from the United Nations (UN) formally expressed concerns about the growing number of attacks against Asian Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the alleged lack of measures from authorities to combat them.
The experts, appointed by the Human Rights Council (HRC), serve as rapporteurs on (1) contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; (2) human rights of migrants; and (3) discrimination against women and girls.
In an August mandate made public last week, experts cited cases of hate incidents toward Asian Americans, which they received as reports from actual victims.
“Racially motivated violence and other incidents against Asian-Americans have reached an alarming level across the United States since the outbreak of COVID19,” experts continued.
These included vandalism, verbal harassment, physical attacks, and refusal of service and access.
Verbal harassment comprised the majority of the incidents. Victims reportedly heard profanities such as “f**ing Chinese,” “die ch*nk die,” “yellow n*****” and “go back to China, b**ch!”
The UN experts noted that they “do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of information” made available to them. However, they have “serious concern” about the situation, particularly over the fact that Asian American women reportedly make up the majority of the victims.
“According to the reports we have received, U.S. authorities have utterly failed to take the steps required to detect, monitor, and prevent racist and xenophobic incidents. One result of this state of impunity is that, many victims of such attacks are reportedly reluctant to seek justice,” the experts added.
The group also cited the alleged link between President Donald Trump’s anti-China rhetoric and the surge in hate incidents. They noted that his actions have been “seemingly legitimizing” the phenomenon.
“We are further concerned by the documented increase in hate and misogynist speech, including incitement to hatred and racial discrimination in public places and online, and the contribution of the President of the United States in seemingly legitimizing these violations. In light of the far-reaching human rights harms inflicted upon Asian Americans that have resulted from this surge, we urge your Excellency’s Government to take all necessary measures to combat anti-Asian racism and xenophobia, and to provide effective remedies to those affected.”
Trump has used controversial terms to refer to COVID-19, including “Chinese Virus,” “China Virus,” “China Plague,” “Wuhan Virus,” “Kung Flu.” The World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency of the UN, has long opposed the use of such terms.
“Don’t attach locations or ethnicity to the disease, this is not a ‘Wuhan Virus,’ ‘Chinese Virus’ or ‘Asian Virus.’ The official name for the disease [COVID-19] was deliberately chosen to avoid stigmatization,” the agency said in March.
Congress has since introduced bills (House of Representatives, Senate) condemning all forms of anti-Asian sentiment. The House passed its version by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) last month, which led to attacks against the official herself.
The U.S. officially withdrew from the HRC in 2018, citing the organ’s “chronic bias against Israel.” Nikki Haley, who was ambassador at the time, described the HRC as “a protector of human rights abusers” and “a cesspool of political bias.”
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