Pro-Hong Kong Students in Australia Allegedly Attacked By Pro-China Students During Protest
Two groups of students with opposing views on Chinese politics in Hong Kong clashed inside the campus of the University of Queensland on Wednesday.
Police were reportedly called to the campus after a violent clash between the two groups broke out at around 1 p.m., reports News.com.au.
Before the incident, a group of some 50 pro-Hong Kong demonstrators were staging a sit-in protest outside one of the main coffee shops on campus. Witnesses say that the peaceful protesters held signs denouncing mainland China’s increasing dominance in Hong Kong and alleged human rights abuse.
About an hour in, pro-China activists crashed the demonstration, playing nationalist songs and chanted “China is great.”
“A few Chinese students ran over and grabbed signs and ripped them up and things went from there. There was a lot of pushing and shoving.” student Nilsson Jones was quoted as saying.
“I saw some of the anti-CCP (Chinese Community Party) organisers being punched and shoved onto the ground. I saw someone smash a drink against someone’s head and a security guard was bitten by one of the (pro-Beijing) protesters.”
Footage of the incident, uploaded by Jones on Twitter, shows the violence breaking out.
The two groups were separated at about 2 p.m. when the local authorities arrived. Jones said the pro-Hong Kong protesters left the area and continued with their peaceful protest at a nearby grassy area.
“They were chanting demanding an apology or they wouldn’t leave,” Jones said. “They were chanting ‘UQ apologize’.”
The standoff ended at about 4 p.m. when police returned and convinced both parties to vacate. No arrests have been made.
The University of Queensland later released a statement that reiterated its role to facilitate “open, respectful and lawful free speech, including a debate about ideas we may not all support or agree with”.
The statement, however, further noted that the university expected its students and staff express their views “in a lawful and respectful manner.”
“Earlier today, in response to safety concerns resulting from a student-initiated protest on campus, the University requested police support,” said a spokesperson for the university.
“On the advice of police, protesters were requested to move on. The safety of all students is paramount to the University.”
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