A Melbourne bar has been forced to close due to criticism levelled at its “horrific” choice of theme.
Rickshaw Bar posted on Instagram on Thursday it had closed its doors effective immediately due to complaints about its theme.
The bar had taken on a Vietnam War theme, according to art and culture magazine Liminal.
The war killed 500 Australians and wounded more than 3100. Many returned Vietnam veterans still suffer ongoing trauma due to the scenes they were confronted with.
Among the themes inside Rickshaw reportedly included beers filled with bullet shells and an orange decor, allegedly a reference to chemical Agent Orange which was used by the US military during the war.
The bar, in now deleted posts, also used photos from the war to promote its brand.
'Dreadful' Vietnam war theme panned
On Twitter, people called the references to the war “genuinely appalling”.
“This is dreadful,” one man tweeted, one woman called it “horrific”.
“Who exactly are they appealing to? Lovers of Napalm?,” another man tweeted.
"F**king Rickshaw Bar is a Vietnam war themed bar and I’m so angry I’m gonna write and mail a letter. My family f**king died in that war bro," another said on Twitter.
"WTF is wrong with #RickshawBar? They're playing-up to the Vietnam war theme in social media and on their website when anti-Asian racism is increasing," someone else added.
"And in Richmond of all places with its vibrant Vietnamese population and culture."
Rickshaw has completely cleared its social media accounts following the outrage.
“We want you all to know we are sympathetic to the issues raised,” the bar said in a statement on Instagram.
“So much so, that the social media positioning of the brand has been completely wiped and the business is currently closed effective immediate (sic).
“We have listened to your comments and although it was never our intention to offend, we accept that it has.”
It added the orange was not intended as a reference to the chemical but “as a branding colour to reflect the embers of the kitchen’s charcoal-driven cuisine and flambéed cocktails”.
“We take the criticism onboard and are considering your commentary very seriously in our next steps,” it said.
“A genuine thank you and sincere apology to all those offended and also the people that took the time to make their position clear.”
Reports of racism towards Asian Australians
A study from the Australian National University, which surveyed 3000 people, last year found 84.5 per cent of Asian Australians reported at least one form of discrimination between January and October, according to the ABC.
Many Chinese Australians claimed they have been victims of racist attacks since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, which is believed to be traced back to Wuhan in China. But the origin of coronavirus is yet to be confirmed..
China urged people not to travel to Australia last year due to what it says is “an alarming increase recently in acts of racial discrimination and violence against Chinese and Asians in Australia”.
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