London police arrest 2 teenagers linked to Covid-19 racist assault on Singaporean student

(From left) Images of two of the four men who allegedly assaulted Singaporean Jonathan Mok in a coronavirus-related racist attack. PHOTOS: LONDON METROPOLITAN POLICE, JONATHAN MOK/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - The London Metropolitan Police said on Friday (March 6) that they have arrested two teenagers linked to the coronavirus-related racist attack on Singaporean Jonathan Mok in London on Feb 24.

The police said in a statement that they arrested a 16-year-old boy on Wednesday and a 15-year-old boy on Thursday, and continued to appeal for the public's help in identifying two other suspects.

This comes two days after Scotland Yard released photos of four male suspects involved in the case, which they described as a "racially aggravated assault".

The 16-year-old boy has been released but remains under investigation, while the 15-year-old is out on bail until later this month, the London Metropolitan Police said.

On Tuesday, Mr Mok, 23, opened up about the attack, which took place in Oxford Street near the London Underground's Tottenham Court Road train station, on Facebook.

The law student at University College London said he heard a group of young people say "coronavirus" as he walked past them at about 9.15pm.

When he turned to face the group, he was punched in the face, with one of the suspects saying "I don't want your coronavirus in my country" before the group fled.

The incident resulted in Mr Mok having to go for facial surgery that is expected to take place later on Friday, reported Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao.

Since Mr Mok's Facebook post on the incident on Tuesday, the case has prompted many to voice concerns over coronavirus-related racism, with the post garnering 67,000 reactions and shared more than 41,000 times.

The London Metropolitan Police continued to appeal for the public's help in identifying two other suspects. PHOTO: LONDON METROPOLITAN POLICE

On Wednesday, the Singapore High Commission in London said on Facebook that it was "deeply disturbed" by the attack and recognised its "broader implications" given the large Singaporean community in Britain.

It also promised to ensure that the London Metropolitan Police "follow through with their investigation with the utmost priority".

"(We) do not believe that the assault reflects the majority view of the British people in particular towards Singapore, given the close and special relationship between the UK and Singapore," the High Commission added.

British High Commissioner in Singapore Kara Owen said in a tweet on Tuesday that she was "shocked and saddened by the attack", and wished Mr Mok a speedy recovery.

Since the onset of Covid-19 - the disease caused by the coronavirus which broke out late last year in China - ethnic Chinese students have reported an increase in cases of discrimination overseas.

Some have said they are shunned in public spaces just for wearing face masks, while others said they have had to bear the brunt of virus-related jokes among their peers.

In more serious cases, these confrontations become physical.

Mr Mok said in his Facebook post: "Why should anyone, simply because of the colour of their skin, be subjected to abuse, in any form, verbal or physical? Why should I keep quiet when someone makes a racist remark towards me.

"Racism is not stupidity - racism is hate. Racists constantly find excuses to expound their hatred - and in this current backdrop of the coronavirus, they've found yet another excuse."

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