A gang of twelve men launched an unprovoked attack in broad daylight on three Iraqi Kurdish asylum seekers in Plymouth on Monday 20 January 2003.
The attackers were reportedly in their twenties and thirties and inflicted facial and other injuries on their victims. To date, there have been no arrests.
On average, one racially motivated crime has been reported to Devon and Cornwall police everyday since November, double the number twelve months ago. But local refugee groups, such as Refugees First, are concerned about the police’s failure to take a tougher line and the resulting under-reporting of incidents. They say that there has been a growing number of incidents of abuse and attacks against asylum seekers and refugees in the area over the Christmas period, but neither the local newspaper nor local police have given the issue the attention it deserves. Jon McKenzie of the Rural Race Equality Project in Exeter believes that as many as ten racist incidents are going unreported for every one that is, in the South West of England.
Speaking to the Western Morning News, Roya Raffati, co-ordinator of Refugees First, said: ‘The asylum seekers and refugees have been dispersed to Plymouth not out of choice, but to escape torture and persecution from the countries they have fled from. The refugee community fears that the callous attacks are only the tip of the iceberg as increasing numbers of new arrivals are experiencing both verbal and physical abuse.’