The head of South Korea’s national human rights watchdog on Wednesday voiced concern over hate speech against Chinese people and called for humanity and solidarity in the global fight against the new coronavirus outbreak.
National Human Rights Commission of Korea chief Choi Young-ae also said that Koreans too, in some Western countries, are being treated as potential virus holders, just because of the skin color.
“Unfortunately, there have constantly been social media posts aggravating hate against Chinese nationals or Korean-Chinese people amid spreading fears over the new coronavirus,” Choi said in a statement.
The human rights committee’s statement comes as Korean confirmed two more cases of the new coronavirus in Korea as of Wednesday, bringing the total number of infected people to 18.
“Just because the source of the infection is Wuhan, China, (we) blame Chinese eating culture, reveal prejudices about its politics and culture and point fingers at it as a hotbed of diseases,” she said.
Hate speech, by channeling the public’s fear and anxiety toward a certain group, “only delays reasonable measures for the crisis but also worsens social conflict, justifies discrimination and incites hatred,” Choi added.
She also referred to a case in which a restaurant put up a notice banning Chinese customers last week and false news that Chinese people infected with the virus were coming to Korea for free medical treatment.
“In some countries, Asians, including Koreans, are banned from attending classes and they get frequently insulted,” she said. “We (Koreans) also become the target of hate speech in another places.”
Choi called for love for humanity and solidarity to get through difficult times like this, rather than discrimination or attempts to eliminate certain groups.