Chinese fans clashed with human rights protesters at a China-Australia basketball game in Melbourne on Thursday, as the two countries try to smooth over a number of political differences.
During the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup qualifiers, activist Max Mok, a Hong Kong-Australian, was pushed around by a Chinese fan as he shouted “liberate East Turkestan”, a reference to Uyghurs from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and “Hong Kong Independence” during the game. The incident was filmed by a cell phone video and posted on social media.
Mok was also holding a sign calling for the release of Mirzat Taher, an Australian-Uighur who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in China in April 2021. The sign showed a photo of Mirzat created by Chinese dissident artist and political cartoonist Badiuca, who is based in Australia.
Mirzat, a permanent resident of Australia, married Australian-born Mehray Mezensof from Melbourne in Xinjiang in August 2016. A year later, the couple were going to fly to Australia to live, but police stopped arrested Mirzat two days before their scheduled departure. Authorities have detained Mirzat two more times since then.
Australian political activist Drew Pavlou, who has spoken out against the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party over their policies towards Hong Kongers, Tibetans and Uighurs, attended the game and alleged that guards security had dragged him down a flight of stairs, as if captured on a cell phone picture and posted on Twitter.
“Security took no action against this violent attacker but they backed me down a flight of stairs for holding signs supporting Australian political prisoners in China and calling for an end to the Uyghur genocide,” Pavlou tweeted.
The United States and the legislatures of some Western countries have issued rulings that China’s mistreatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang constitutes genocide and crimes against humanity. Beijing has angrily denied accusations of serious rights abuses in the region.
Another protester carried the flag of Tibet, which is banned in China because it considers the western region to be part of the country.
Security personnel said they removed seven people involved in the incidents from the arena and no one was physically injured, according to local reports.
More than 8,100 spectators were present at John Cain Arena. The Australian team won the game 76-69 and are now 4-0 in their playoffs.
The incident came about a week after Xiao Qian, who was appointed China’s ambassador to Australia in January, was harassed by human rights protesters during a speech on improving relations between Beijing and Canberra under the Prime Minister’s new Labor government. Antoine Albanian.
“In recent years, our relationship has gone through a difficult period, nevertheless, China’s policy of friendship with Australia remains unchanged,” Qian said during his briefing. speech at the Institute of Australia-China Relations at the University of Technology Sydney on June 24.
Human rights protesters interrupted the event several times to criticize the Chinese government’s policies in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang. They were escorted out of the event.