‘Embarrassing’: Student lashes TV host
A University of Queensland student who was assaulted on campus after organising a pro-democracy rally in support of Hong Kong has taken aim at Tony Jones, lashing him for what he described as a "really embarrassing question".
Appearing on Q&A on Monday night, UQ philosophy student Drew Pavlou told the panel he had been assaulted by a "co-ordinated group of thugs" after helping to organise the protest on July 24.
Trouble began roughly an hour after some 50 pro-Hong Kong and anti-Beijing demonstrators arrived at a coffee shop on campus last month, erupting into violence where students reported seeing people punched and shoved to the ground.
Hong Kong has been in the grips of violent protest for 10 weeks now, with millions of its residents taking to the streets to fight for a bill, where locals could be extradited to China, to be withdrawn.
Hong Kong's international airport, one of the world's busiest, was forced to suspend all flights earlier today after thousands of protesters stormed the arrival hall.
Mr Pavlou claims, after organising the protests at UQ, he was hit with a dozen death threats from people supporting the Chinese Communist Party and saw his enrolment questioned by the university.
Despite international media covering the protest at UQ, none of Australia's politicians commented.
"Is this response a product of the fact that Chinese Communist Party has systematically bought the loyalty of key government and non-government institutions in this country?" Mr Pavlou asked.
One of the panellists A. C. Grayling, a philosophy professor at the New College of the Humanities in London, described the protests at UQ as "worrying".
"I'm very sympathetic towards the Hong Kong demonstrators. I hope they will behave with restraint because the precedents are bad about what mainland China government might do when it loses patience," Mr Grayling said.
"We have seen it in Tiananmen Square and that was dreadful.
"One thing that's very worrying about what we have seen in the Brisbane case is that when very large numbers of Chinese students go abroad to study, in among them will be people who are there to watch them. These are people who are, in effect - this is not conspiracy theory, it is wildly known - there are people planted among them to watch them.
"These are people who will be countering them in these demonstrations. That's the kind of signal, a symptom of the fact there is limited patience on the part of the Chinese authorities."
Li Shee Su, the people's panellist and an IT executive, said the UQ protest descending into violence caused the students to lose their message.
Mr Shu also alluded to the CIA being involved in the pro-democracy Hong Kong protests and said the US has the most to gain.
Mr Pavlou took aim at Mr Shu, calling him a "nobody" and asking him if he had spoken to anyone in Hong Kong.
As the panel battled to hear Mr Pavlou's comment through Skype connection issues, Jones cut him off.
"Drew, can I interrupt you? You are breaking up a little bit," Jones said.
"So, I don't know what is happening with your microphone. To be clear, there have been reports you also were sending some pretty inflammatory social media postings to the pro-Chinese students. Did the situation in the case of your demonstration become inflamed because both sides were behaving intolerantly?"
With a wry smile on his face, Mr Pavlou responded.
"Look, that's a really, really embarrassing question, I think, Tony," he said.
"I went into the protest completely peacefully. Look, I may have responded to death threats by being a bit immature and responding with insults but the fact that I went in as a peaceful protester and was assaulted by a co-ordinated group of masked thugs and I'm being called a violent protester and you're saying that there is violence on 'both sides' it reminds me a bit of Trump, 'there is fine people on both sides' in the whole Charlottesville debacle. You know how it is."
"OK well you've made your point, thank you Drew," Jones responded.
President Trump was condemned two years ago after he was asked about a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia - that left one woman dead and 19 injured after a neo-Nazi drove a car into a crowd of people.
Days after the rally, Mr Trump said he was "not talking about the neo-Nazis or the white nationalists because they should be condemned totally" but later added "there's blame on both sides … very fine people on both sides."
Mr Pavlou's fiery responses earned him praise on social media, and the UQ student later weighed on his own appearance.
Drew’s questions/comments were entirely valid. The issues he raises are seriously concerning. It is a pity the people’s panellist gave a somewhat glib response. Everyone doing a lot of tip-toeing about both UQ issue and Hong Kong #qanda #HongKongProtests #UQprotests— Jane Castles (@janecastles) August 12, 2019
lmao I stan the drew guy who skyped into #qanda - glorious shade— Jennine Khalik (@jennineak) August 12, 2019
Was Tony Jones implying that because I responded to death threats with insults, it was right for me to be assaulted several times on July 24th by masked pro-CCP thugs? Presumably I also deserved death threats and threat to rape and murder my mother? Embarrassing journalism #qanda— Drew Pavlou (@DrewPavlou) August 12, 2019