Updated: Jan 17, 2021
Hackney Chinese Community Services is part of the Campaign Against Secondary Victimisation (CASVIC), which has recently defended a Chinese man from secondary victimisation after a racist attack.
Since Covid-19 has arrived at our British shores, racism towards Chinese and South East Asian people has escalated significantly. In March 2020, Mr Ma was with three university friends at the Liverpool city centre waiting for a taxi to return home. A group of six youths approached Mr Ma and his friends, and told Ma "CHINK YOU GOT CORONAVIRUS, GET OUT THE COUNTRY.”
One of the men punched Mr Ma and gave him a black eye, Mr Ma and an Indian friend fought back. Mr Ma had the perpetrator on the floor, whilst a police car drove by and saw what happened. The police intervened and stopped the fight, and five accomplices of the perpetrator fled the scene. Mr Ma told the police about the racist comments and their attack on him. He also told them that he and his friend acted in self defence, and to protect their female university friend.
The police arrested Mr Ma and his Indian friend, alongside with the perpetrator; all were charged with public order offences.
Mr Ma went to the Manchester Chinese Consulate to seek help. Chinese Consul Mr Liu wrote to Merseyside Police to lodge his formal complaint and expressed his concerns. He was worried for the safety of Chinese nationals, especially students living and studying in Liverpool. The Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) ignored Mr Liu’s concerns and continued the prosecution.
Mr Ma then sought support from the Pagoda Chinese Youth and Community Centre (PCYCC). The PCYCC, the Newham Chinese Association (NCA), the Hackney Chinese Community Services (HCCS), and solicitor WahPiow Tan mobilised Chinese, East and Southeast community, and other local community organisations to write to the CPS expressing their concerns about the secondary victimisation inflicted on Mr Ma by both the Police and the CPS. Sixty seven organisations signed a joint letter of concerns, and eleven organisations sent individual letters to the CPS, pointing out that the prosecution had significantly undermined the ESEA community confidence in the criminal justice system.
The Campaign Group met with the CPS officer, highlighting that the case is an unprovoked racist attack on Mr Ma, and that numerous similar Covid-19 related racist attacks are happening now to the ESEA community all over the country. Legal Advisor WahPiow Tan presented a submission pointing out the “blind spot” in the CPS process that failed to protect Covid-19 race hate victims who were being forced to defend themselves. He proposed CPS guidance to address such a blind spot. The CPS relayed the proposal to the local and national CPS, both are evaluating the proposed guidance.
On 30/12/2020, the prosecution went ahead, and Mr Ma was found not guilty.
Mr Ma told the Campaign Group, “I was very worried about the prosecution, feeling lonely and insecure. The many supporting letters from community organisations gave me warmth and confidence in the freezing Covid winter to face the trial with courage and made it more bearable. Thank you for all your support.”
The Campaign Group is very pleased for Mr Ma, but extremely disappointed that the CPS insisted on the prosecution. This continued despite 70+ ESEA and Art community organisations highlighting that the prosecution is secondary victimisation, against public interest, and damaging to ESEA community confidence in the criminal justice system. The fact that Mr Ma is found not guilty demonstrated that he should not have been charged in the first place.
The Campaign Group renamed itself as the Campaign Against Secondary Victimisation (CASVIC). The HCCS is an active member of this group. As a campaigning group, CASVIC is now planning a campaign against secondary victimisation with the objective to:
· Persuade the CPS and Police to adopt our proposal to implement new guidelines to eradicate a blind spot in the existing system which fails to protect those victims of hate crime who exercise their right to self-defence, and
· Enact legislative changes to decriminalise those inadvertently convicted during the pandemic for self-defending against racially-motivated hate crime.
· Persuade the police to develop guidance in dealing with secondary victimisation.
CASVIC and HCCS would like to express our heartfelt appreciation for the prompt response from community organisations to our appeal. We are sure that their support was a significant factor in bringing about this just outcome to the case.
You can download a copy of the letter below.