London police release photos of men linked to Singaporean student attack after COVID-19 comments
SINGAPORE: London's Metropolitan Police on Wednesday (Mar 4) released images of four men in connection to an incident where a Singaporean student was assaulted after he reacted to passers-by making comments about his race and COVID-19.
"Police investigating a racially aggravated assault have released images of four men they wish to speak to in connection with the incident," said the Metropolitan Police in a press release.
"The 23-year-old victim was punched, kicked, and sustained facial injuries," the police added.
Police officers were called at about 9.15pm local time on Feb 24 to Oxford Street to reports of a man being assaulted.
Detective Sergeant Emma Kirby, who is the officer in charge of the case, said the attack left the victim "shaken and hurt".
"There’s no room on our streets for this kind of violent behaviour and we are committed to finding the perpetrators," she said.
“I am keen to speak to anyone who has information about this assault. I would like to identify and speak to the four men pictured who may be able to help me with our enquiries."
No arrests have been made, and police have asked witnesses to come forward.
"DON'T YOU DARE LOOK AT ME, YOU..."
Singaporean student Jonathan Mok said he was walking along the street on Feb 24 when he heard a racist comment and the word "coronavirus" from some youths.
Mr Mok then turned to look at them, because he did not want them to think he was afraid and that "Asians are easily bullied", he said.
"I felt really angry ... it is ridiculous people are being targeted for being Asian," he told CNA on Tuesday.
After he looked at them, Mr Mok said one of the youths shouted: "Don’t you dare look at me, you …". He did not catch the last word because of the man’s accent.
The group then approached him, Mr Mok said, adding that they "seemed no older than 20 years old, but were all more than a head taller than me".
Suddenly, he was punched in the face twice, he said, and another attacker attempted to kick him as he tried to explain what was happening to another passer-by.
The man who tried to kick him then said: “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country,” before punching him again, said Mr Mok. His nose started bleeding and blood was splattered all across the pavement, he added.
The group left the scene before the police arrived.
Mr Mok has lived in London for two years while studying at University College London (UCL), but travels back to Singapore during his summer holidays.
On Wednesday, the Singapore High Commission said it was in contact with London police "at the highest level" to ensure that investigations into the incident are followed through.
It is also in touch with the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office as well as the Home Office "given the broader implications with our large student and Singaporean community" in the country, the high commission said.
"The Singapore High Commission is deeply disturbed by this incident, although we do not believe that the assault reflects the majority view of the British people in particular towards Singapore, given the close and special relationship between the UK and Singapore," it said in a Facebook post.
"There are unfortunately always abhorrent elements in every society, especially in such uncertain and anxious times."