Drew Pavlou is familiar with the challenges that come when speaking out against the Chinese communist regime on human rights, sometimes resulting in physical attacks, even though he lives in a democracy.
But the 20-year-old student from Australia’s University of Queensland (UQ) underestimated the Chinese regime. After he helped organize a pro-Hong Kong rally on UQ’s campus in Brisbane on July 24, the local Chinese consul-general, Xu Jie, issued a statement the following day calling his event “anti-China separatist activities”.
The Chinese regime’s state media has circulated Pavlou’s name.
“It was basically like an invitation to attack me,” told NTD in an interview on December 9, “It’s like, ‘Open season on this guy.’”
Then came hundreds of death threats and abusive messages flooding in targeting him and his family, some mailed directly to his home address.
Pavlou has sought a court order against the Chinese consul-general. Pavlou said the diplomat’s statement has threatened his safety.
“I can take the death threats myself because, like, that just comes with it,” Pavlou said, “But the Chinese regime knows the way to get you is by targeting your family.”
“And they didn’t ask to be involved in any of this. My mom didn’t asked to get those sorts of rape and death threats,” he said.
It’s not just him. Pavlou said the Chinese regime has also harassed families of his Hong Kong and Uyghur friends because of their dissident activities in Australia.
“It’s the way, like, the mafia, thhe mobsters work. The gangsters,” Pavlou said.
This week, Pavlou and his lawyers traveled to the United States and met with U.S. government officials from the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. They discussed the alleged harassment in Australia from the Chinese regime.
The Commission is an independent agency that monitors human rights in China.
Mark A. Tarrant, Pavlou’s lawyer, said that their court case is possibly the first time a Chinese Consul-General was made to answer a criminal complaint.
Tarrant said if no action is taken against Xu, “that’s going to set a very dangerous precedent. Because that’s a green light for people like Xu Jie to continue to incite violence against the vulnerable.”
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has sent a letter to the court, saying that Xu has diplomatic immunity. The court will hear the case later this month.
The U.S. ambassador to Australia, Arthur Culvahouse, has called on Australia’s government to take stronger action against alleged Chinese harassment.
Speaking on Australia’s national television on Dec 12, he said the Brisbane Chinese Consul-general has encouraged Chinese students in UQ to harass pro-Hong Kong students.
Pavlou said his family have asked him to stop his activism, “Unfortunately, as evidenced by my interview in New York City I’m giving right now, I haven’t stopped.”
He said it’s because the choice is clear.
“After World War Two and the Holocaust, the world promised ‘Never Again’, and we’ve broken that promise so many times,” Pavlou said, “and each time the blood-stained our hands.”
“It’s happening again now. And if we fail to act, we will always have that shame and guilt always sitting on our conscience,” he said.