Examination of Witnesses (Questions 580
MONDAY 25 OCTOBER 2004
[Please note: ***** indicates that text has been
removed to protect the anonymity of the victims.]
Q580 Chairman: Thank you very much
for coming. I want to conduct this rather less formally than I
might. What I would like you to do, because we are here to learn,
is perhaps if each one of you who has been a victim would like
to tell us in your own words what happened, how it happened, what
the consequences were and whether or not it got reported and what
action was taken, in other words just give us the feeling of your
own personal experience. Shall we start with you, Jewish victim?
Thank you very much. I will be very brief. I am from the Jewish
community. This may seem inconsequential in terms of some of the
things that have been going on here in the last few years but
it had a profound effect on me and my friend. This incident happened
in October 2003. It was Yom Kippur night (that is the holiest
night of the Jewish calendar) and I was walking into the synagogue,
off the road with my friend and there was a group of young men
walking past on the other side of the road and they started to
jeer at us, "Look at the Jews. You dirty fucking Jewish bastards."
They shouted it louder and louder and louder. I would class myself
as a reasonably strong and intelligent woman and I was paralyzed.
I could not move towards them and I could not move where I was
going into the synagogue. I was so stunned. I have lived in Northern
Ireland for 15 years and I have never come across anything like
that before. They were shouting, "Go back to where you belong.
Look at them all fucking dressed up." I just felt myself
collapse inside. I cannot begin to tell you, if you have never
experienced it, the profound effect it has on you. It is only
a few words. I think it was opportunistic. They were not standing
waiting, they were talking past. They were maybe 16-19 year olds
and there were seven or eight of them. They started to taunt.
I can only tell you my experience. My friend experienced it differently
in that she wanted to go and run at them, she was so angry, but
I could not move. I was stunned. I was so upset. I felt so disempowered.
Even in retrospect you do not know what would have been the effect,
if any, anyway. That was the incident. It is only a short incident.
There was nothing physical, but it felt very physical. It was
a verbal attack, but I felt physically like I had been knocked
for six. At the end of the service we reported the incident to
the chairman of the synagogue. I am only speaking personally here,
not on behalf of the synagogue and that is because it is a long
established Jewish community and the general feeling in the Jewish
community has always been that Northern Ireland has been good
to us, we should not lift our head above the parapet and things
have always been hunky-dory. There is inertia about reporting.
People do not want to report. We reported it to the chairperson
of the synagogue so that it would be officially reported. I am
unsure whether or not it was. It is one small incident but to
me it was significant. It made me view my status here in Northern
Ireland very differently. In general the Jewish community are
not visibly perceived as different. We have a new Rabbi who is
a very religious man and he will dress in the traditional way.
He looks very different. He can be picked out and he is being
picked out because he looks very different. That is really all
I wanted to say.
Q581 Chairman: Thank you very much
indeed. Do you have any idea who these people were? Had you seen
Jewish victim: No. I can only
guess they were local lads out hanging round.
Q582 Chairman: Chinese victim, would
you like to tell us your story?
Chinese victim: For her it was
only one incident but for me it has been happening for years.
I have made a note and I would like to hand it in.
The children know exactly what they are doing. They are doing
it from the age of six onwards. By the time those children reach
16 and the law gets them they will be teaching the younger ones
to continue doing it, and the parents encourage them as well.
Q583 Chairman: Where do you live?
Chinese victim: ****.
Q584 Chairman: We went to visit that
area when we came to see your community before. How long have
you lived there?
Chinese victim: Since 1992. It
was okay up until 1995. In 1995 they noticed the Chinese moving
into the area. At that time it was, at most, only 69 families
out of 600 houses, but they thought that was too many and at that
time they said there should be no more Chinese families moving
in and no more were moving in until the last few years where there
has been an influx of immigrants. They were making people move
out. They were breaking windows, kicking the door, calling people
names and chasing after you when you walked past. Last Friday
when I was driving past my car was stoned and 10 minutes later
at least 10 kids, some of whom were around 10 to 14 years old,
came up to my house and kicked the door and threw stones. This
time I was amazed because the police responded very quickly. Normally
it takes one hour. Sometimes they do not turn up at all. This
time it took five minutes. By the time they arrived some of the
kids had gone, but two or three were still hanging around and
they actually threw things at the police when they were talking
to me at the door. I know who they are but I do not know their
names. The people living there are protecting them. They know
exactly who is doing it. In the past those people have been speaking
out, but they got into trouble as well for having told these people
to stop it and they were scared. They shout "They're Chinese
bastards" at us. When they were walking past it used to be
friendly, we would say hello or good morning, but they stopped
it after those incidents. They throw things at me all the time.
It is an assault emotionally and physically. It does not hurt
us physically but emotionally we are hurt.
Q585 Chairman: Thank you very much.
Muslim victim: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
I wanted to tell you my personal experience. I was living in a
house in south Belfast about two years ago and I had lived for
two years in that house. When we moved into the **** area of south
Belfast we started receiving insults from the children in the
street. We knew their parents and the families. Our car was vandalised
sometimes on a daily basis. Everything was reported to the police
in the right way, they were called and it was reported or we made
a phone call. A major incident happened after two years of us
living there. One of the things that happened was that when we
had visitors they were insulted and so I used to feel embarrassed
to invite people to my house because I did not want them to be
insulted. People were afraid to come and visit us, so we did not
socialise for two years. We were called names on many occasions,
myself and my wife, although my wife is from Ireland, she is White
Irish, but because she is married to me she was insulted on many
occasions. They used to say to her "Paki, go back home."
Stones were thrown at us. Everything was reported to the police.
The children were known to the police but nothing was done. However,
on one occasion I was leaving the house with my wife and I was
holding my son who was one year old. One of the neighbors had
two dogs and he was walking beside us and the dogs started coming
close to us and in our religion we cannot touch the dogs, so I
said to him, "Please could you keep your dogs away from us,"
and he said, "You are dirty." He used all the bad words
in the English dictionary that I have never heard before in my
life. The two dogs attacked me and they were jumping on me. He
said, "I hate Muslims. I hate your culture." He insulted
everything I believed in in a very aggressive way. His dogs were
jumping on me and frightening my son. I phoned the police from
my mobile and told them I was under attack and they knew that
things were happening as they would have heard the shouting. However,
it took the police 45 minutes for them to reach the place. When
the police officer came I said to him, "I could have been
killed and buried before you came here. 45 minutes is a very long
time," and he did not show any emotions, nor did he apologise.
Then he took my statement. After that I discovered he did not
report everything I had told him and I objected to that and I
went to his boss in the police station and I was not informed
if anything was done.
Q586 Chairman: Where did this happen?
Muslim victim: Two years ago,
it was just before 12 July.
Q587 Chairman: Where?
Muslim victim: I have the full
details. He said, "If you stay tonight here we will kick
you out," and he used very bad language. The police did not
do anything. We stayed that night and the next morning we found
our car completely destroyed. So we got the message that it was
a serious threat and we left the area.
Q588 Chairman: That first incident
with the man and the dogs, did you know who the man was?
Muslim victim: Of course. I knew
the man and the police knew. When I asked the policeman what he
was going to do he said to me that they were going to caution
him. I asked if they were going to take any action against him
and he said there was no law to take any action against him.
Q589 Chairman: Did you do anything
about that? Did you complain to anyone about the way that the
police had behaved on this occasion?
Muslim victim: I only complained
to the inspector there. I complained and I registered my complaint
with him, but I have not complained further than that because
I was busy with my family finding new accommodation.
Q590 Chairman: Do you know there
is a Police Ombudsman?
Muslim victim: I was not aware
of the Police Ombudsman at that time. One of the problems in many
cases is that the victims are not aware of what is available around
Q591 Chairman: That is why I am telling
you. My opinion is that, if what you say is correct and I have
no reason to doubt it, that is a very reprehensible way for the
police officer concerned to behave and I think you should pursue
that complaint and I would advise you to take it up. The Police
Ombudsman is changing the culture within the Police Service of
Northern Ireland by taking up these cases and reporting on them
independently and in some of them she finds the police officer
behaved properly and in others that the police did not. One of
the things that you need to do is not to ignore these things but
to raise them. I know sometimes that makes a bad situation worse,
but the only way all of us are going to solve these problems of
race hate that arise is if we do take them up and let the mechanisms
that have been put in place operate. My strong recommendation
to you, Muslim victim, is to take this matter up.
Muslim victim: At that time I
did not know about the Police Ombudsman. I found out about it
after that. The person who told me said that you had to report
it within six months and six months had passed already.
Q592 Chairman: In that case, without
knowing who it is or who I am landing in trouble, my advice is
for you to go to your MP.
Muslim victim: He is here.
Q593 Chairman: Then why not have
a chat with the Reverend Martin Smyth and he will tell you what
your remedies are and how to go about them because I really do
believe it is very important that you use the mechanisms that
are there, although that may be difficult. Sonia, did you want
to say anything?
Chinese victim: Whenever we report
anything we have to know what is wrong. We are depending on the
police to behave correctly.
Q594 Chairman: I understand that,
but if you are being attacked by dogs, you know that is wrong,
you do not need to look at the law. That is such a strong case.
Chinese victim: He had already
complained to the inspector. Fifteen years ago one policeman really
behaved badly, he was very ignorant.
Q595 Chairman: There is nothing we
can do about incidents that happened 15 years ago. What we have
tried to do in the last three or four years is to create a new
world of policing. This is what the Patton Review was all about,
this is what the new Police Service of Northern Ireland is all
about and it is what the Ombudsman is all about, to try and bring
about a change in attitudes, some of which were unacceptable,
although it has to be said that the old RUC did have a very difficult
job to do when they had a major terrorist campaign on their hands,
but now that is over. What I think everybody round this table
and I know all of you want to see is a police force that is user-friendly,
that is helping the citizens, like most police forces do in the
rest of the United Kingdom and the only way we can get it right
is if you do follow up these complaints. I am here to listen to
you, not to talk to you. I am afraid you provoked me into saying
that you must take these things up. ****, what did you want to
Philipina victim: For the past
few years my brothers and I have worked down in ****, but we normally
get tortured by some of the children.
Q596 Chairman: Try and keep calm.
We do not want to intimidate you in any way. Just tell us what
happened because we do need to know.
Philipina victim: Last year I
was working at **** when a group of children were in our shop.
Q597 Chairman: How old were they?
Philipina victim: They ranged
from about 12 years old downwards. I told them to go out of the
shop. We have to close at eight o'clock because we normally get
attacked. Our shop is between ****. They just told me to "fuck
off". I said, "Could you please go out?"
Q598 Chairman: Were you alone in
Philipina victim: My supervisor
was at the back and my other brother was cooking. I just told
them to go away because I had to close the shop immediately. Then
one boy kept on trying to annoy me and he took the spray bottle,
the ones that we use to clean the tables, and he sprayed it into
my face until it got into my eyes. What was inside the bottle
Q599 Chairman: What was your supervisor
doing at the time?
Philipina victim: She was doing
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