Australian student to take university to court for suspending him for Hong Kong, Tibet activism

Drew Pavlou, philosophy student at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo courtesy: FB/DP)

(, Jun01’20) – A student who has been suspended by the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, for two years for misconduct because of his activism in support of support of Hong Kong and Tibet has said he will file an appeal to the Supreme Court. The suspension of philosophy student Drew Pavlou, 20, came just six months prior to his graduation. The suspension order covers the remainder of his term as a student-elected member of UQ’s governing Senate, reported Jun 1.

The report said Mr Pavlou faced a disciplinary hearing last month over misconduct allegations detailed in a confidential 186-page document, reportedly linked to his on-campus activism against the Chinese Communist Party.

“I want a total, complete exoneration,” Mr Pavlou was reported to have told ABC radio.

“I want the university to publicly apologise to me. I want to take it to the Supreme Court so we can absolutely tear them to shreds because it’s a politically-motivated farce.”

The university’s Chancellor Peter Varghese has expressed concern about the disciplinary hearing’s outcome and will convene an out-of-session meeting of the university’s Senate to discuss the case.

“There are aspects of the findings and the severity of the penalty which personally concern me,” he was quoted as saying in a statement on May 29.

The report noted that the university had faced media scrutiny for its relations with the Chinese government, which has co-funded four courses offered by it.

The institution is also home to one of Australia’s many Confucius Institutes – Beijing-funded education centres which many critics warn promote propaganda and have faced ignominious closure in many countries.

The report noted that last year Mr Pavlou organised an on-campus demonstration supporting Hong Kong independence activists. It ended in confrontation, with Mr Pavlou and his supporters surrounded by pro-Chinese students chanting and singing China’s national anthem.

“Drew’s methods may be provocative, but he has brought scrutiny to questionable partnerships between the University of Queensland and Chinese government entities,” Elaine Pearson, the Australian director of Human Rights Watch, was quoted as saying.

Pearson felt that the university should put its energy into addressing Chinese government interference on university campuses.


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