K-pop superstars BTS have condemned anti-Asian racism following a wave of violence across the US.
The South Korean boy band, one of the most popular and influential acts in world music, released a statement on social media in Korean and English, sending condolences to "those who have lost their loved ones".
BTS did not specify an incident, but six women of Asian descent were among eight people killed at massage parlours in the US state of Georgia earlier this month.
Police have not said the crime was racially motivated, but it sparked outrage among the Asian community following a wave of violence activists say is partially caused by rhetoric blaming victims for the spread of Covid-19.
In their statement, BTS - made up of RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook - said they too had experienced racism and had been mocked for how they look.
#StopAsianHate#StopAAPIHate pic.twitter.com/mOmttkOpOt— 방탄소년단 (@BTS_twt) March 30, 2021
"We send our deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones," the chart-topping group said. "We feel grief and anger.
"We recall moments when we faced discrimination as Asians. We have endured expletives without reason and were mocked for the way we look. We were even asked why Asians spoke in English.
"We cannot put into words the pain of becoming the subject of hatred and violence for such a reason. Our own experiences are inconsequential compared to the events that have occurred over the past few weeks.
"But these experiences were enough to make us feel powerless and chip away our self-esteem."
BTS said "what is happening right now cannot be dissociated from our identity as Asians", adding they had taken "considerable time" and "contemplated deeply" on how to respond.
"But what our voice must convey is clear," the group said.
"We stand against racial discrimination. We condemn violence. You, I and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together."
They added the hashtags #StopAsianHate and #StopAAPIHate. BTS have a vast social media following and their statement was retweeted more than 600,000 times less than three hours after it was posted.
AAPI stands for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate said it received more than 2,800 reports of hate incidents involving Asians in America last year.
Other stars to condemn the violence include Rihanna, actor Daniel Dae Kim, actress Olivia Munn and filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung.
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Source: Press Association