Police have made this composite drawing of one of Sun's attackers; he's 20 and 190 cm (6'3").
At 21:00 on July 24, according to information provided by Bratislava police headquarters, eight youths "with extremely short hair" attacked three Chinese men on the 219 bus in the Slovak capital. When one of the victims, the Chinese embassy's Shizhong Sun, produced a diplomatic passport and attempted to calm his attackers, he was knocked to the floor of the bus and kicked in the face and body until he lost consciousness.
The driver of the bus immediately called for an ambulance and the police, but the attackers fled as soon as the driver stopped the bus on Trnavská Street.
Sun woke up after 18 hours in Bratislava's Ružinov hospital with a concussion, a broken nose and rib and various facial contusions. The other two victims were treated for minor injuries and released.
Chinese Ambassador Thao Miao did not learn of the attack on his deputy until 15 hours after Sun was hospitalised. Police spokesperson Marta Bujňáková explained that the police had not been able to communicate properly with the attacked Chinese until Sun, who speaks Slovak well, woke up.
"The bus driver who called the police said that some Vietnamese had been attacked. Mr. Sun was already in a coma after severe kicks to his head and the other two didn't speak Slovak, so the police informed the [Chinese] embassy only after interrogating Mr. Sun, who woke up in the hospital on the following day," she told The Slovak Spectator.
The 219 bus on Trnavská Street (above) was the scene of a brutal attack.
photo: Peter Barecz
The Slovak Foreign Ministry sent an official letter of apology to Ambassador Thao, expressing its concern over the incident and its determination to investigate the crime.
It appears, however, that the July 24 attack may be far from unusual for Chinese residents of Slovakia. Tsai Ge, spokesman of the Chinese Embassy, told The Slovak Spectator that the embassy has documented several such attacks against Chinese people in Slovakia. "Most Slovaks behave in a friendly way, but Chinese people have problems with some racist groups," he said.
Sun's beating was the second such attack within a week. On July 19, a group of four young men attacked two British citizens of Asian origin near a Bratislava police station.
The British Embassy expressed its concern over incident and asked to be kept up to date while the police investigated that crime. "We are aware of two attacks on British citizens, the other of which happened at the beginning of June," said Zuzana Melišová, a British Embassy spokesperson.
The police have said that they believe that both Sun's beating and the July 19 attack as crimes committed by members of the skinhead movement, but that they have been unable to confirm that the attacks were racially motivated.
Sun himself said that he did not think the attack had any connection with his ethnic origin. "I don't think it was a racially motivated attack. I think they were just aggressive young punks," he told the media.
But the police's Bujňáková doubted Sun's claims, saying that " it looks strange that a group of young men, reportedly with very short hair, entered a bus full of white Slovaks and attacked the three Chinese."
Other members of the 800-strong Chinese community in Slovakia are also in no doubt that race hatred fuels attacks by skinheads, especially in Bratislava.
"More than 10 people in my 30-member family have been beaten up by skinheads and seriously injured. And this has happened to every Chinese family in the city that I know," said a young owner of a Chinese restaurant in the centre of Bratislava, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"They [skinheads] don't care if they beat up women or children," he said. "It's terrible, but what can we do? Call the police? They never catch any of these bastards and they are rude to us instead. Why should we bother calling them if we only have more problems?"
Bujňáková confirmed that most of the skinhead attacks reported to the police have not been solved. "It's very difficult to find the offenders, because there are usually no witnesses to the attacks," she said.
However, she added that the police are about to launch a programme called "Safe Bratislava" which should improve security on the streets of the Slovak capital.