NOW THE HATE MAIL BEGINS

By MEGAN KINNINMENT

INDONESIANS living in Byron Bay have been the target of racial attacks in the wake of the Schapelle Corby case.

Byron Bay-based Australian Indonesian Arts Alliance founder Judith Shelley, said the arts group was now receiving racist hate mail on its website.

The president of the North Coast branch of the Alliance, Indonesian-born Dharma Bradridge, urged Australians to not take out their anger at the Schapelle Corby trial on the Indonesian people.

"The Indonesian people need our support more than any other time before," Mr Bradridge said.

Ms Shelley said the Indonesian Arts Alliance had no political agenda or affiliation, only a philosophy to promote peace and understanding between Australia and Indonesia, but she was compelled to now speak out about the racism surrounding the Corby case.

"I'm appalled at the racism," she said.

"Our organisation has been receiving abusive and racist hate mail on our website since April this year, for the first time, and as a direct result of the Schapelle Corby case.

"I believe it is a racist act to denigrate a nation of innocent people in response to a legal matter," she said.

Dharma Bradridge, a multi-media artist, said calls for Australian tourists to boycott Bali, for tsunami donations to be refunded and the attack on the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra of a suspected biological agent, would not help Schapelle Corby.

Instead, Mr Bradridge said, it would be the ordinary Indonesians who would suffer.

"We need to be able to separate the actions of the Indonesian Government and the courts from the people of Bali," Mr Bradbridge said.

Despite the loaded emotional energy surrounding the case, the Arts Alliance is forging ahead with preparations for their annual Indonesian Arts Festival to be held in Byron Bay from June 11.

Mr Bradridge hopes the festival will re-build and strengthen bridges between the two cultures: "Hopefully we can channel this negative energy into something positive."



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