May 25, 2016

African diplomatic community to boycott Africa Day celebrations due to everyday racism and afro-phobia in India - Killing Of Student In Delhi's Vasant Vihar

African Community Seeks Strong Action Against Killing Of Student In Delhi
All India | Indo-Asian News Service | Updated: May 25, 2016

New Delhi: The African diplomatic community in India has decided to boycott this year's Africa Day celebrations over safety of its nationals, and is seeking strong action against the killing of a Congolese student in New Delhi last week.

"The Group of African Heads of Mission have met and deliberated extensively on this latest incidence in the series of attacks to which members of the African community have been subjected to in the last several years," said Eritrean Ambassador Alem Tsehage Woldemariam, who is also dean of the Group of African Heads of Mission, in a statement.

A Congolese student, Masonda Ketada Olivier, 29, was beaten to death by a group of men in South Delhi's Vasant Kunj after an argument over hiring an autorickshaw on May 21. Oliver was hit on the head with a brick, leading to his death.

"They strongly condemn the brutal killing of this African and calls on the Indian government to take concrete steps to guarantee the safety and security of Africans in India," it said.

The police had arrested one person a few hours after the murder.

According to Mr Woldemariam's statement, Oliver and his friend Samuel had gone to meet another friend, and while on their way back, he flagged down an auto-rickshaw which stopped a few metres away. However, as he tried to board it, three locals standing nearby boarded it. An argument ensued following which Oliver was thrashed.

"They pushed Oliver to the ground and kicked him in the face and abdomen repeatedly. One of the Indians picked up a large stone from the roadside and hit Oliver on the head," the statement said. A passer-by who stopped to help was also beaten up and the attackers ran away when they saw that Oliver was unconscious.

Oliver was rushed to a private hospital where he was referred to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Trauma Centre but he died on the way.

Mr Woldemariam stated that the African heads of mission in Delhi have noted with deep concern that "several attacks and harassment of Africans have gone unnoticed without diligent prosecution and conviction of perpetrators".

He said that given the climate of fear and insecurity in Delhi, "the African heads of mission are left with little option than to consider recommending their governments not to send new students to India, unless and until their safety can be granted".

"Accordingly, the Indian government is strongly enjoined to take urgent steps to guarantee the safety of Africans in India including appropriate programmes of public awareness that will address the problems of racism and Afro-phobia in India," he said, and called on the media, civil society, think tanks, research institutions, parliamentarians, politicians and community leaders to play major roles in addressing the stereotypes and prejudices against Africans in India.

As for the Africa Day celebrations being organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) on May 26 here, Mr Woldemariam said that they have requested that the event be postponed, and the African nations have also decided not to participate in the celebrations, except for a cultural troupe from Lesotho.

"This is because the African community in India, including students, is in a state of mourning in memory of the slain African students in the last few years, including Oliver," it added.