Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sudanese claim racist bans

By Charlotte Glennie
Updated Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:25pm AEDT

A group of young Sudanese refugees in a central Queensland city say they are being victimised because of their race.

The men say since moving to Rockhampton for work, they have been banned from a shop, a bar and a nightclub.

They say the bans were imposed as a result of trouble caused by some of their countrymen which had nothing to do with them, but the businesses involved stand by their actions and deny they have been racist.

Jacob Deleer, 23, is a Sudanese refugee who arrived in Rockhampton a couple of months ago to start a job at the meatworks.

He says he likes the work but not everyone in the city has been welcoming.

"When you go Friday night and you walk around in the street, you walk around from this club to that club or from that club to that club," he said.

"There is a lot of people looking for trouble. Especially trying to fight me or something for no reason."

He says his taunters also make abusive comments about his race and a few weeks ago he says he was banned from his local corner store.

"One day I walk into the shop and the shopkeeper telling me no, I can't sell you smoke mate. You know, I can't sell you anything in this shop and I say why?" he said.

"He said it was one of you yesterday come around here and urinated at the back of the shop and I say what do you mean, man. I don't even know what you are talking about. I don't even know who done that."

But the store's owner, Alan Longmore, says he was quite within his rights.

"I went outside to bring the signs in. There was a group of Sudanese people out the side of the shop and urinating against the shop wall," he said.

"They were then told that until they cleaned up the mess, they would not be served in the shop."

Mr Longmore says that almost two weeks later, a "token effort" was made to clean the store.

"Just some water was thrown against the wall and that was it," he said.

Mr Longmore insists Mr Deleer was involved in the incident, but Mr Deleer insists it was a case of mistaken identity.

Mr Deeler says he has since been unfairly targeted again.

He says he has been banned from at least two bars and nightclubs, because one of his friends got into a fight one night, when he wasn't even there.

"The security guy [was] telling me you guys are dangerous and you guys are always fighting and fighting and I said, you didn't see me, you know my face. You seen me a couple of time ago coming in here," he said.

"They said, yeah, I know you but I can't let you in mate."

But the owner of Rockhampton's Heritage Hotel, one of the establishments in question, says no one would be banned solely for their race.

Will Fowles says that only people who specifically cause trouble in the venue are banned.

"I am aware that a number of people, if they have acted up in the venue, won't be allowed back for a period of time at the discretion of management and staff," he said.

Rockhampton's Mayor Brad Carter is watching developments and says racism is unacceptable.

"We want an inclusive community, we are working hard to have a very inclusive community," he said.

"I would be happy to become involved in these issues and allegations that have been raised to see what I can do to smooth the troubled waters, if in fact the waters are troubled."

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