Indian student knifed in Belarus

October 7th, 2008 - 8:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Minsk, Oct 7 (DPA) An Indian student was knifed in a provincial Belarusian town, sparking a rare university demonstration and class boycott, the Belapan news agency reported Tuesday.The racially-motivated attack by a reported gang of Slavic nationalists took place in the city of Gomel near the town’s medical school.

The male victim, a medical student, was hospitalized in a serious condition and is expected to recover fully, according to the report.

Dozens of medical school attendees demonstrated in central Gomel to protest what they called chronic racist attacks on members of the university population, and lack of police attention to the problem.

Most forms of public protest are banned in Belarus, and are frequently broken up by police.

Law enforcers monitored the student march but did not interfere with it.

Hundreds more students refused to attend classes. The Gomel State Medical School has one of the largest foreign student populations in Belarus, with nationals from India, Nepal, Nigeria, and Sri Lanka being the most prominent.

A police spokesman said suspects had been taken into custody and that police would in future be permanently stationed on campus.

Violent racism in Belarus in contrast to neighbouring Russia and Ukraine is an infrequent occurrence, and violent crime of any form is rare due to a powerful police force and authoritarian government.

The relatively low numbers of foreign nationals in Belarus has, however, made the few visitors from Africa and Asia stand out amongst Belarusians, and sometimes targets for xenophobic attacks.

Lingering Soviet racial stereotypes repeated by Belarus’ state-run mass media exacerbate the problem.

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