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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: https://www.humanite.fr/le-racisme-...

by Mehdi Fikri


Translated Tuesday 3 July 2018, by Mehdi Fikri

Monday, June 18, 2018
Mehdi Fikri
Two young men appear in Bobigny for the attack on Chaolin Zhang in 2016. His death had provoked strong demonstrations in Paris and Aubervilliers.

The trial of two young men, accused of the deadly attack on a Chinese couturier in Aubervilliers in 2016, opened last Friday in Bobigny. A central question pervaded the hearing: will the racist character of the act be considered by the court? This would increase the penalties and this case would then become an example for all cases of racist violence against people of Asian origin in France. At age of 17 and 19 at the time, the two young men were tried at first behind closed doors by the Seine-Saint-Denis juvenile court. They appear for "robbery with violence resulting in death" and, for having also attacked a friend of the victim, at the origin of an "ITT of less than eight days". All this is accompanied by the "aggravating circumstance of racism".

On 7 August 2016, they and a third teenager violently assaulted 49-year-old Chinese fashion designer Chaolin Zhang and his friend, also of Chinese origin, and seized Zhang’s handbag. Chaolin Zhang had fallen heavily to the ground after being kicked violently. He died in the hospital a few days later. His friend was also thrown to the ground with a punch to the face. He escaped, but was unable to work for a week (TIW).

The attackers seized his handbag and managed to escape. A few days later, after hearing about the case on television, the boys returned to the scene to hammer the video surveillance camera that was filming the street. They were apprehended shortly thereafter. During the hearings, one of them admitted that they had attacked Asians because "they had heard that they had a lot of money on them," according to a source close to the investigation. The youngest offender has already been sentenced in this case to five years in prison, including three years suspended and probation by the Bobigny Children’s Court in 2017.

Chaolin Zhang’s death had deeply outraged the Chinese community of the city, which ended its usual reserve. Enough was enough. More than 10,000 people from China work in Aubervilliers, where the first European textile import-export platform is located. The wholesale district of this commune to the north of Paris is regularly the scene of violent thefts. The thieves generally bet on the fact that Chinese merchants carry their cash and do not hesitate to ambush them, targeting primarily the elderly. After Chaolin Zhang’s death, thousands of people demonstrated in the streets of Paris and Aubervilliers to denounce "anti-Asian racism", repeated attacks, and to demand more security. "Since the case, the situation has improved but it is still far from perfect," says Rui Wang, co-founder of the Association des jeunes Chinois de France. Among the positive results, "measures have been taken and the case has freed young French people of Asian origin" to talk about the racism they suffer. But much remains to be done. "The police are forced to listen to the associations," continues Rui Wang. But at the individual level, it’s very hard. Police routinely refuse to take complaints filed by Chinese at the Aubervilliers police station concerning thefts or assaults without injuries. »

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