By Tenzin Sangmo
Chinese students at University of Queensland objecting to Gu-Chu-Sum photo exhibition on Tibet
DHARAMSHALA, Sept. 5: Gu-Chu-Sum association-led photo exhibition on Tibet at the University of Queensland (UQ) saw a group of Chinese students objecting and calling it “harmful to China,” on Tuesday.
Drew Pavlou, a student leader who had fought against Chinese influence in the campus tweeted his indignation, “Nationalist students surround two Tibetan demonstrators at UQ. They are filming them, saying their posters make them feel sick and the Tibetans have no right to display them: ''This is harmful to China.''
The duo was Tenzin Doring Phuntsok, the newly elected president of Queensland Tibetan Community Committee assisting Lhagyari Namgyal Dolkar, president of Gu-Chu-Sum Movement Association of Tibet, an organization of former political prisoners based in Dharamshala whose executive members were touring Australia at the time of the incident.
An exhibition was held at Brisbane CBD, at King George Square on Monday after which Phuntsok teamed up with Gu-Chu-Sum to continue the exhibition the next day at UQ which has a ubiquitous presence of Chinese students.
“I thought it was a good opportunity,” Phuntsok said.
The team sought permission from the Student Union at the eleventh hour and held the exhibition in the afternoon.
During the exhibition, a large number of Chinese students turned up at seeing photos of Chinese leaders on display. The mainland Chinese students said they were hurt and find it hard to believe.
The duo can be seen in videos trying to hold a matured conversation while asserting their right to speak about human rights violation in Tibet. Students standing by voiced their support.
Some Chinese students who claimed it was their first time coming across such narrative were told that it is because of the Communist Party of China (CPC)’s propaganda and that Tibetans are against the Chinese government and not its people.
Lhadon Tethong, a prominent Tibetan independence activist took to Twitter to express her lack of surprise at the incident. “This is nothing unusual for Tibetans & supporters. Chinese students have for years been mobilized to try to intimidate. Worst is if school/other officials back them up. As if their fragile feelings are a reason we must hold back from talking about China's atrocities in Tibet.”
The UQ student leaders in July had stood up for Hong Kong supporters in the University.
Namgyal Dolkar, who is also a member of Tibetan parliament-in-exile, thanked the University of Queensland on social media for standing true to its principle in upholding basic human rights and creating an environment for safe dialogue between Tibetans and Chinese students.