An online petition to stop bullying and harassment of international students has garnered thousands of supporters in the wake of the bashing of two Chinese secondary college students at the Woden Interchange on Monday.
It comes as ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry issued a statement reassuring international students that they were welcome in the ACT, and police said two juveniles had been arrested over the incident.
The two Chinese Year 11 students – one at Lake Tuggeranong College and the other at Canberra College – were attacked by a mob of teenagers after refusing demands to give them cigarettes.
One was seriously injured and admitted to Canberra Hospital.
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One of the students said this was not the first time Chinese students had been harassed, with some of their peers saying they had often been threatened over demands for money.
ACT Policing said in a statement that two juveniles had appeared before the ACT Children’s Court but would not comment further.
The statement said it had engaged with the Chinese community and increased patrols in and around the public transport interchanges throughout the ACT.
It conducted a workshop with Chinese students on Thursday to advise them on keeping safe in the ACT.
Ms Berry said what occurred in Woden was an isolated incident but any violence was unacceptable.
“Students who come from around the world to study here in Canberra make a valuable contribution to our community and Canberrans pride ourselves on our city’s cultural diversity,” she said.
“The Government will continue to work with our educational institutions and ACT Police to ensure the safety of all international students.”
Melisaa Zhao started the petition, which says that international students have been frequently ”provoked, intimidated, surrounded and even assaulted by the local young bullies around the Canberra Woden Shopping Mall.”
It says that although these incidents have been reported to the police, “the bullies do not stop their illegal activities. The international students are still often assaulted by them”.
“Therefore, we petition the ACT Police to reinforce the rule of law by taking further substantial steps to stop the bullies from their crimes, so that the international students can receive their quality education in a peaceful environment here in Canberra.”
Some comments left are:
International students need a safe environment to study and live.
Ye Ma, Australia
We choose Australia coz we feel it safe, stop violence
Shujie Chen, Sydney, Australia
Sy Li, Australia
The petition now has more than 2,300 signatures and will be delivered to ACT Policing and the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.