An activist involved in a protest against the Chinese president has defended himself and said he was harassed by “fascists” who hurled racial slurs at his group.
A political activist and Queensland Senate hopeful has reacted after sparking fury at a protest in Sydney where he held a sign reading ‘F**k Xi Jinping’.
Walking onto a busy shopping street in the north-west suburb of Eastwood – which has one of Sydney’s highest Chinese populations – the 20-year-old sparked an angry reaction from passers-by who addressed “motherf**ker” and “son of ab**ch”. Pavlou claims there was also an attempt to break his photographer’s camera. They have since made a statement to the police regarding the “assault”.
Speaking to 2GB’s Ben Fordham on Monday morning, Drew Pavlou defended his actions and said he was “bullied” by bystanders and called them “fascists”.
“How often do you see signs at climate rallies (that say f*** Sco Mo)?” said the Senate candidate.
“Nobody gets mugged when they put up a sign like that, nobody gets charged by the police.”
Pavlou said pro-democracy Chinese students who protested with him were also called “race traitors” and slapped with racial slurs like “rotten banana”. He also claims one of the passers-by said “F*** Aussies”.
“I was basically intimidated. These guys stood up in my face,” he said.
“These guys were basically fascists.”
Despite this, he admits he would change his tactics slightly if he protested again.
“I wouldn’t have put a swear word on the sign if I had gotten my time back,” he added.
A NSW Police spokesperson told news.com.au an investigation has begun.
“Officers from Ryde Police Zone Command have opened an investigation into an alleged assault which occurred during political protest activity in Eastwood Plaza at approximately 5.15pm on Saturday.”
The spokesperson said no serious injuries were reported and no charges were filed.
“While investigations continue, anyone who witnessed the incident or has mobile phone footage is asked to contact Ryde Police Station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.”
Stunned merchants and shoppers quickly flared up against Pavlou when he posted the sign.
“Fuck you, motherfucker,” he was repeatedly shouted furiously. “It’s freedom of expression!” »
The activist described the situation as “chaotic” in an Instagram post with the footage also showing a man snatching the sign from Pavlou’s hand and stomping on it.
“America has a genocide, not Xi Jinping”
another person shouted, 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. Liberate Hong Kong. Free Taiwan.
On video, Pavlou added that his protest was non-violent and “peaceful”, putting his hands behind his back and inviting people to come and punch him.
As the situation threatened to spin out of control, the police were called.
Later, Pavlou spoke about the incident on Facebook, claiming he was physically assaulted, and said it would never happen if he criticized Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the same way.
“My point is simple – 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, however crudely – it – it’s a simple principle of free speech,” he said.
“I would never have been surrounded by 50 people and physically assaulted if I had held up a sign that said ‘F**k Scott Morrison’ in Sydney. Why should China’s 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 to Kyinzom Dhongdue, the Tibetan-born Democratic Alliance candidate running for the Bennelong seat in the federal election.
“I was with Taiwanese, Tibetan, Vietnamese and Chinese activists when I held up a sign criticizing a dictator in the middle of Sydney, as anyone in Australia should be able to. It’s not racist to criticize Xi Jinping,” Pavlou added later.
In October last year, the human rights activist well known for his outspoken criticism of the Chinese Communist Party debuted with his parliamentary team of candidates persecuted by China for his political party the Democratic Alliance.
The University of Queensland student has been suspended from the institution after leading rallies against human rights abuses in China – one of which ended in violence – claiming he violated the university’s code of conduct.
Despite continuing tensions between the university and Pavlou, he later returned to his degree in politics.
At one point, he was suing the university for $3.5 million.
Originally published as Qld Senate candidate Drew Pavlou as protest in China draws furious crowd