Police have released images of four men they wish to speak to in connection with a “racially aggravated assault” where suspects targeted a Singapore man of Chinese ethnicity in central London.
London’s Metropolitan Police said the 23-year-old was punched, kicked and sustained facial injuries in the attack, which comes at a time of increasing xenophobia against people of East Asian appearance in the UK and around the world. Police told CNN on Thursday that no arrests have yet been made.
“This 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,” Detective Sergeant Emma Kirby said in a statement on Wednesday.
“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,” she added.
Mok wrote about the incident in a public Facebook post on Monday and said this was not the first time he had suffered racist abuse in the past few weeks.
“The guy who tried to kick me then said, ‘I don’t want your coronavirus in my country’, before swinging another sucker punch at me, which resulted in my face exploding with blood (from my nose),” wrote Mok.
“I’ve studied in London for the past 2 years and every year, I am subjected to racist remarks (whether innocent or made with malice),” he wrote. “To those people who told me that London isn’t racist, think again.”
The student said doctors had told him he might need reconstructive surgery, and the attack had left him with facial fractures.
Mok’s case is one of a number of incidents that have occurred in the UK during the global coronavirus outbreak that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and hate crime awareness group Stop Hate UK recently raised concerns.
“Stop Hate UK has recently received an increasing number of calls, across our helpline areas, from people experiencing racism, discrimination and verbal abuse, arising from perceptions that they are members of the Chinese community and therefore likely to be carriers of the coronavirus,” said the organization in a statement.
“We find this deeply concerning and we want our Helpline areas to know that we are here to help, advise and reassure anyone affected by such incidents.”
Discrimination has been rising in the US, with experts blaming ignorance and misinformation for racist and xenophobic attacks against people who appear to be East Asian.
“With news of the coronavirus, we’ve seen an uptick in fear of people who look like this,” said Rosalind Chou, a sociology professor at Georgia State University. “Real people are affected.”
CNN’s Jack Guy contributed to this story.