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Activist under investigation for bomb threat claims smear tactic by China

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Activist Drew Pavlou being removed by security as he protests against Chinese ambassador Xiao Qian at an Australian university in June (Photo/AAP)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, July 25: The vocal anti-China activist Drew Pavlou is under investigation for allegedly sending an email about a bomb threat to the Chinese embassy in London, which the Australian activist has repeatedly denied to have sent. Pavlou claims that it is an ‘orchestrated’ smear campaign against his activism by the Chinese government, as he was arrested during a peaceful protest outside the embassy on Thursday. “It’s just such a black mark on my reputation forever. It’s the darkest thing that’s ever happened to me,” he told SBS News.

An account pretending to be Pavlou’s sent a false bomb threat to the embassy in London, which read, “This is Drew Pavlou, you have until 12 pm to stop the Uyghur genocide or I blow up the embassy with a bomb. Regards, Drew.” The 23-year-old called this fake threat to be “absurd” as he talked to several media houses about the whole incident. “Why would I throw my whole life away … to go to the Chinese embassy and hold a peaceful protest but then also send a bomb threat with my name attached to it?” he says in one of the interviews. Although he got bail the next day without any charges, he has been asked to not leave the United Kingdom until August 12 when he is required to attend the police station.

During the protest, Pavlou said that he was outside the Chinese embassy for a peaceful protest where he had planned to use glue to attach a Taiwanese flag to the embassy gate. The London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement that a man was arrested on Thursday afternoon on suspicion of “trespassing on diplomatic premises, communicating a fake bomb threat and criminal damage”. According to Drew, the police denied his right to speak with any solicitor or his barrister, Michael Pollack, as well as Australian consular authorities at least until midnight.

Tibetan MP Tenzin Phuntsok Doring from Australia said in a statement on Sunday expressing shock over Drew’s arrest, “I was deeply shocked to hear the news of the arrest of my dear friend and human rights activist by the British police. As a fellow activist, I demand British [police] for his immediate release and request Australian authorities to render any possible assistance for his safe return to Brisbane.” The Chief Executive of Hong Kong Watch, Benedict Rogers, on Saturday took to Twitter calling Drew’s arrest “outrageous injustice”, “[He] is a totally peaceful young man who heroically devotes his energies to highlighting Uyghur Genocide, Tibet, the dismantling of Hong Kong’s freedoms & China’s CCP repression. He should be applauded, not arrested.”

The vocal activist had made headlines in June when he and other protestors disrupted the Chinese ambassador Xiao Qian’s speech in a coordinated fashion at an event in University of Technology Sydney in Australia. “This is the representative of a dictatorship with one million Muslims in concentration camps. Uyghur Muslims are being raped and tortured as we speak. [It is the same dictatorship] that commits genocide against Tibetans,” Pavlou shouted during Xiao’s speech as he was quickly ushered out of the hall by security personnel.

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