Although this is just being reported now, the suicide happened in June of 2007! Although the family of the Indian student who committed suicide asked the Otemon Gakuin University to investigate, the school let this case sit on a shelf for 3 years. The university made no report until the bereaved family hired a lawyer in August of 2010.
This is really sad news. I have not seen this picked up by a lot of news agencies yet, but I really hope this news goes international. I have personally seen cases of exchange students having trouble making friends, having trouble with host families, and even being picked on or disliked by teachers before. This story, however, is even more extreme.
If early news reports such as this one in MSN Sankei Shinbun are accurate, an exchange student (however he may have been born and raised in Japan… I’ve seen him described both ways) from India was bullied extensively while studying abroad at Otemon Gakuin University. The story reports that he was nicknamed “Bin Laden” and had his pants forcibly removed in public by a number of male students at the school. There are also reports that the students shot fireworks in his direction. The student later committed suicide.
This information comes from a friend of the student. A suicide note was also left. Otemon Gakuin University officials strongly deny that “bullying” was a factor in the suicide.
Further accounts state that a member of the group told the student that bullying him recently had been the most fun he’d had. Another member reportedly said that just looking at him made him angry. The Indian student’s friend was distressed about not being able to do more to protect him.
A professor at the university also reportedly tolded Sankei News that even though the university understood that there was a high probability that the student had been bullied, they failed to investigate and covered up the incident.
(If I’ve missed or misunderstood anything, please feel free to let me know in the comments. I am really frustrated with how schools and university’s that have the trust of the people continually cover up things like this. In fact, I think this should be treated as a hate crime (though I don’t think Japan has any hate crime laws… time to make them), and the students (if guilty) and the university are guilty of racism and a slew of related crimes because of the cover up.)
I’ll be setting up some Google Alerts so that hopefully I can follow this story.