A petition started just six days ago, calling for national unity during the coronavirus pandemic has already received more than 12,000 signatures. Started by the Chinese Australian Forum - an organisation which has been at the forefront of fighting racism in Australia for the last 35 years - the petition calling for #UnityOverFear will be sent to the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader and all Members of Parliament for tabling in Federal Parliament.
The petition supports an open letter penned by 16 prominent Chinese Australians including businessman Jason Yat-Sen Li, GP and author Dr Cindy Pan, celebrity chef Adam Liaw and journalist Benjamin Law, where they express their concern about the rising escalation in racial abuse towards Australians of Asian heritage.
The group says the rising anti-Chinese sentiment brought on by the coronavirus pandemic poses a serious threat to Australia’s national unity. Their concerns are backed by the latest data from the Australian Human Rights Commission, which showed one in four people who lodged racial discrimination complaints in the past two months say they were targeted due to COVID-19.
President of the Chinese Australian Forum Jason Yat-Sen Li said the petition was a public expression of solidarity to Australians of Asian heritage as fellow citizens and valued members of our community.
“We have been overwhelmed by the show of support we have already received for this petition. At a time when fear of the coronavirus threatens to fracture our social cohesion, it was important for us to start this petition because we know our society is better than this,” Mr Li said.
“We are living through some challenging and frankly scary times, but fear of the coronavirus is not justification for vilifying our fellow citizens. This petition sends a strong message to those who have been victims of racial abuse that our community stands with them.”
One of those people who has been the target of racial abuse is Sophie Do, who along with her sister Rosa Do was racially abused and assaulted on the streets of Marrickville and accused of bringing the coronavirus to Australia.
“I've never experienced racism like that before and it had a deep impact on me, it made me feel scared and really shattered my belief in what I thought was an accepting and inclusive society,” Ms Do said.
“It's been a tough few weeks, but I've been incredibly heartened by the outpouring of support I've received and in particular the support this petition has received.”
The petition will be open for signatures until the end of April: change.org/unityoverfear
You can read the open letter in full here.
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