Indian IT Worker Blames Racism in New Zealand for Ruining New Year's Eve

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By Reissa Su | January 3, 2014 2:11 PM EST

An Indian IT worker in New Zealand was denied entry to a bar on New Year's Eve. Sandesh Gopal, a 30-year-old software project manager from Bangalore, described what he called an act of "racism" when a bouncer stopped him and his friends from going inside a bar in Viaduct Harbour, Auckland.

Reuters
Fireworks explode over and around the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House during new year celebrations. Dec. 31, 2012. REUTERS

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The bouncer at the bar singled out Mr Gopal and his friend by asking for their IDs. Despite showing him their IDs, the bouncer told them they cannot enter the bar. Mr Gopal observed "white" customers had no problem getting inside the bar. When he asked why they were not allowed to go in, the bouncer could not tell them.

In an interview with the Herald, Mr Gopal said he and his friend just wanted to celebrate the New Year like everyone else in the city. He added the experience spoiled the holiday mood.

According to Mr Gopal, he feels New Zealand is the "most racist" country since he has travelled to Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Malaysia and Singapore as part of his job. He observed the "racism is not overt" in New Zealand, but there are small things that make people like him feel unwelcome.

He has stayed in the country since 2011 and revealed he has several bad experiences. He believes some people act differently towards him because of his ethnicity.

Mr Gopal recalled an experience when a representative from a rental car company asked him if he was from India. He could not find the GPS machine he placed in the car's glove compartment. In another incident, a bus driver singled him out and his friend to check their tickets to see if they paid the right amount.

Mr Gopal also recalled a time when a department store staff told him to read the instructions when he asked for help on the pram he bought. He saw the same representative did not hesitate to assist a European customer regarding the same matter.

Mr Gopal stated it was "a shame" for a developed country like New Zealand to have this type of "rude atmosphere."

In March 2012, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination mentioned New Zealand as having a "persistent discrimination" towards migrants, especially those with Asian roots. 

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Fireworks explode over and around the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House during new year celebrations. Dec. 31, 2012. REUTERS
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