Gardai are investigating an alleged racist attack in which two Chinese men were verbally abused about the source of the Covid-19 virus before being assaulted.
he duo – Martin Hong and Arthur Ma, both in their early 20s – were assaulted by three teens in Cork after they objected to comments passed to them about the source of the virus.
Both required hospitalisation for minor cuts, bruises and a broken tooth.
Gardaí are appealing for witnesses to the August 8 incident – and are treating it as a racially-motivated attack.
It came after a Chinese woman was verbally abused and then pushed into a canal in Dublin by a group of youngsters who were mocking her about the coronavirus.
That particular incident made world headlines.
Mr Hong said their incident involved three teens.
“It was around 8pm when I was walking with my friend to do some grocery shopping,” he told RTÉ.
“On the way, we heard some people talking about the Chinese virus as we were walking in their direction.
“They were making fun of us but when we asked them to repeat what they were saying, they laughed at us and made fun of us.
“They also raised their middle finger towards us.”
Mr Hong said when his friend tried to record the incident on his phone, one of the teens took out his own phone and claimed the Chinese men had been insulting Ireland.
“My friend tried to film it because we did not want to get into any physical contact with them. We asked them to repeat what they said.
“They said we were racist and were saying bad things about Ireland. They were also saying Black Lives Matter – I don’t even know why they were talking about that.
“They tried to portray themselves as the victims.”
The two Chinese men were then assaulted by one member of the group.
“I stepped forward to try to reason with them and one of them just punched me.
“Both of my eyes got very severely bruised. I got punched in the eye and the nose, my nose was bleeding. I lost one of my teeth and, for one or two minutes, I lost consciousness when I fell to the ground.”
Another member of the group attacked Mr Ma.
“We both ended up in hospital. A very nice old lady walking by called the police and they took us to hospital.”
The duo were treated in hospital overnight before being released.
Afterwards, they were so shaken by their ordeal they have been reluctant to leave their home for fear of further attack.
The two men have been in Ireland for over a year and it was the first time they had endured a physical attack.
“It happened around my home so I don’t dare to go out from my home,” Mr Hong said.
“I went out for some shopping yesterday and a teenager said ‘hi’ to me and I was afraid to reply.”
Mr Hong has faced multiple dental appointments to repair the damage to his teeth.
“Before now, all the racial things were verbal – this is the first time I got physically attacked.
“Since this pandemic began affecting the Irish community, the first racist comment I received was from some kids.
“They were toddlers, they had only learned to speak and they were already racially abusing (people). They were only kids and that is the shocking part,” said Mr Hong.