An activist involved in a protest against China’s president has defended himself on radio, and says he was harassed by “fascists.”
A political activist and Queensland senate hopeful has snapped back after sparking fury at a Sydney protest where he held a sign that said ‘F**k Xi Jinping’.
Taking to a busy shopping strip in the northwest suburb of Eastwood – which has one of Sydney’s highest Chinese populations – the 20-year-old sparked an angry reaction from bystanders who called him a “motherf**ker” and “son of a b**ch”. Pavlou claims there was also an attempt to smash his photographer’s camera. They have since made a statement to the police in regards to the “assault”.
Speaking with 2GB’s Ben Fordham on Monday morning, Drew Pavlou defended his actions and said he was “intimidated” by bystanders and labelled them as “fascists”.
“How many times do you see signs at the climate rallies (that say f*** Sco Mo)?” said the senate candidate.
“No one gets attacked when they put up a sign like that, no one gets charged by police.”
Pavlou said that the Chinese pro-democracy students protesting with him were also called “race traitors” and hit with racial slurs like “rotten banana”. He also claims one of the bystanders said “F*** Australians”.
“I was basically intimidated. These guys got up in my face,” he said.
“These guys were fascists basically.”
Despite this, he admits that he’d slightly change his tactics, if he were to protest again.
“I wouldn’t have put a swear word on the sign if I had my time back,” he added.
A NSW Police spokesperson told news.com.au an investigation has commenced.
“Officers from Ryde Police Area Command have commenced an investigation into an alleged assault that occurred during political protest activity at Eastwood Plaza, about 5.15pm on Saturday.”
The spokesperson said there were no reports of any serious injuries and no charges have been laid.
“As inquiries continue, anyone who have witnessed, or has mobile phone footage, of the incident is urged to contact Ryde Police Station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.”
Stunned stallholders and shoppers quickly fired up at Pavlou when he displayed the sign.
“F** you, motherf***er,’ one furiously yelled at him repeatedly. ‘It’s free speech!’
The activist described the situation as “chaotic” in a post to Instagram with the footage also showing a man rip the sign from Pavlou’s hand and stomp on it.
“America has genocide, not Xi Jinping,”
another person screamed, while others accused Pavlou of being a coward and told him to “f**k off”.
He told the crowd: “We are against the dictatorship. We believe in democracy. Free Hong Kong. Free Taiwan.”
In video, Pavlou added his protest was non violent and “peaceful”, putting his hands behind his back and inviting people to come and hit him.
As the situation threatened to spiral out of control, police were called in.
Later, Pavlou spoke about the incident on Facebook, claiming he was physically assaulted, and said this would never happen if he criticised Australian prime minister Scott Morrison in the same way.
“My point is a simple one – I should be able to insult a dictator like Xi Jinping in my own country without being physically assaulted and attacked. Australia is a democracy and we should be free to insult any leader no matter how coarsely – this is a simple principle of free speech,” he said.
“No way would I have been surrounded by 50 people and physically assaulted if I held up a sign saying “F**k Scott Morrison” in Sydney. Why should Chinese ultra-nationalists get a free pass to assault people in Australia if someone insults Xi Jinping?
The Brisbane man was in Sydney to lend his support Kyinzom Dhongdue, the Tibetan-heritage Democratic Alliance candidate who is running for the seat of Bennelong in the federal election.
“I was with Taiwanese, Tibetan, Vietnamese and Chinese campaigners when I held up a sign criticising a dictator in the middle of Sydney, as anyone in Australia should be able to do. It is not racist to criticise Xi Jinping,” Pavlou later added.
In October last year, the human rights activist well-known for his vociferous criticism of the Chinese Communist Party debuted his parliamentary team of Chinese-persecuted candidates for his political party Democratic Alliance.
The University of Queensland student was suspended from the institution after he held rallies against human rights abuses in China – one of which ended in violence – with claims he had breached the uni’s code of conduct.
Despite ongoing tensions between the university and Pavlou, he returned to later returned to his politics degree.
At one stage, he was in the process of suing the university for $3.5 million.
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