|Green Party co-leader Russel Norman gave a personal explanation of the incident with Chinese government staff on the steps of Parliament last week to Parliament today (Tuesday, 22 June, 2010).
What follows is a transcript of his speech to the house:
Mr Speaker I seek leave to make a personal explanation regarding the incident in front of Parliament involving the Chinese Vice President on Friday.
Mr Speaker, Last Friday, in the lead up to the arrival of the Chinese Vice President, I held up a Tibetan flag at the bottom of the steps in front of parliament.
My purpose was to draw attention to the shocking human rights abuses suffered by the Tibetan people under Chinese Communist Party Government occupation of their country, in line with this parliament's long and honourable tradition of speaking out to protect human rights.
I was well away from the security entrance to the Beehive where the Vice President was expected to arrive. I had no intention of getting close to the Vice President but nor would I be hidden away. I had not decided whether I would or would not voice my concerns as well as holding the flag.
While I was standing still holding up the flag and not speaking, someone who I can only assume was part of the Chinese Communist Party Government's security delegation, began to push and obstruct me. I sought to avoid his pushing and shoving by moving away from him but he continued to push and harass my, up to then, silent protest.
I was incensed by the actions of the foreign government's security person on the forecourt of parliament pushing around a member of this house and as the Chinese Vice President arrived I called out "Freedom for the people of Tibet".
Shortly after I was then set upon by a number of, what I can only assume were, Chinese Communist Party Government security operatives who grabbed me from a number of sides.
Another member of the Chinese Communist Party Government delegation, presumably a security person, then placed an umbrella over me to try to smother me and at that point I stepped forward from under the umbrella to try to avoid it.
Another member of the Chinese Communist Party Government delegation then tore the Tibetan flag from my hands and stood on it. I reached forward to recover the Tibetan flag from under the foot of one of the security personnel. And then I held it aloft again.
In avoiding these assaults from the Chinese Communist Government officials I was dragged closer to the security entrance.
Mr Speaker the Prime Minister John Key has accused me of charging at the Chinese Communist Party Government Vice President. I deny this. I was intent on standing my ground but this proved impossible in the face of the assaults from the Chinese Communist Government security officials.
I certainly ended up closer to the Vice President than I wished to, but at each step I was trying to avoid the assaults of the Chinese Communist Party Government security operatives who appeared in control of the Parliamentary forecourt.
Mr Speaker the Deputy Prime Minister Bill English has accused me of harassing the Vice President. I deny this. I was standing still, well away from the Vice President until the Chinese Government security operatives started to push and harass me.
I would like to thank the New Zealand DPS officer at the scene who was, in spite of being outnumbered, doing his best to keep the Chinese Communist Party Government security operatives off me. I apologise to him for suggesting otherwise at the time.
I accept it looked a bit undignified, and that isn't ideal. But it was pretty hard to look dignified when you have a bunch of Chinese Government security people grabbing hold of you and pushing you around and putting an umbrella over you and taking away the Tibetan flag you're holding!
But I would rather a little messy free speech than seamless totalitarian silence. Thanks to everyone who sent messages of support, especially the many Chinese and Tibetan people here and overseas who fear to speak out but see our country as a beacon of hope for democracy and free speech.
And to those who disagreed with my actions, I defend your right to free speech too.