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Stop 'racialising' crime, says South Sudanese video

South Sudanese Australians protest 'devastating' racism and plead with politicians for better treatment

The Revd Chaplain Soma as he appears in the South Sudanese video.

By Stephen Cauchi

August 20 2018A video featuring South Sudanese Australians pleading with the Prime Minister and other political leaders to stop “racialising” crime has been launched at St John’s Anglican Church, Footscray.

The video protests the “devastating” racism that it says has been unleashed on the South Sudanese community as a result of vilification, including knife attacks and abusive language, which has led to suicides.

The video, Please Stop, was launched on Friday 17 August by Melbourne Assistant Bishop Philip Huggins and film maker and producer of the video Richard Keddie.

Monash University Chancellor and former Australian of the Year Simon McKeon and South Sudanese priest the Revd Chaplain Soma were also present at the launch.

Disturbingly, Revd Soma was racially attacked at a petrol station in Albert Park on the way to filming the video.

A motorist at a nearby pump abused Revd Soma with foul and racist language and waved a petrol nozzle at him. Revd Soma feared he would be doused in petrol and set alight, while his wife, sitting in the car, was terrified.

“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Minister Peter Dutton and Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy have singled out Sudanese gangs as a major crime problem in Victoria,” said Bishop Huggins and Mr Keddie in a statement promoting the video.

“By racialising crime, they have inflicted much hurt on thousands of innocent South Sudanese Australians, and there has been an escalation in racial hatred towards other Australians of an African background.

“At the very least it is poor leadership and has caused much hurt. At worst, it may have given impetus to extreme racist elements of the community, with a disastrous outcome for this country.”

Racial abuse of South Sudanese has also led to three youth suicides in recent weeks, as well as knife attacks on kids, said the statement.

Racialising crime, it said, “is a cynical wedge-styled political strategy, using fear to shift marginal voters”.

Some politicians believe it to be “strong and appropriate”, it said. “But this behaviour is in no way strong and sets a dangerous precedent for all Australians.”

The video states that the Federal Government has made “damning comments about Sudanese Australians… the racism that has been unleashed is devastating.”

“Savages”, “smelly African dogs”, “grubs” and “maggots” are among the terms being used on social media, it states.

The video points out that only one per cent of crimes in Victoria has been committed by Sudanese Australians, “yet they have been singled out in a calculated strategy to win votes”.

“We are frightened to go out because our Prime Minister has condemned us,” Revd Soma says in the video.

Other South Sudanese in the video report instances of racial abuse and prejudice as well as the suicide of young girls in the community.

Comments from the South Sudanese in the video include:

“We came to this beautiful country and we could not believe how warm and friendly you all were.”

“A few of our children have been bad. It’s terrible what they’ve done. But it’s just a few and we’re working hard to fix it.”

“We are not criminals. (We are) hardworking people with good hearts and much to give.”

“Please stop. It is not the Australian way. It’s not the Australia we love.”

“Malcolm Turnball please take your words back. Please do not judge us unfairly.”

See the video at: https://vimeo.com/285267995/cfb0b797a3