Liberal senator James Paterson said he was “concerned” that activist Drew Pavlo was escorted from Parliament House by federal police after the pair met yesterday, but AFP and Parliament would not tell why he was asked to leave the building Was said.
Police officers told Pavlu that he was considered an “active protestor” while drinking coffee in a public cafe in the parliament building, and that “people upstairs” wanted him to leave the building.
Pavlou said, “While I was quietly having lunch in Parliament House an Australian Federal Police contingent stopped me and instructed me to leave Parliament or face trespassing charges as a ‘high risk person’. “
The Brisbane man is an anti-Communist Party activist who has led high-profile protests against Chinese human rights abuses and for pro-democracy causes in Hong Kong, including disrupting July’s Wimbledon tennis final and wearing a shirt that read “Where is reading is included. Peng Shuai?”.
He was arrested later that month after holding a small protest outside the Chinese embassy in London, holding a Uyghur flag. Pavlu said that he has been arrested On a false “bomb threat” given to the Chinese embassy They claim to have come from a fake email address created to trap them.
On Wednesday, Pavlu was in Canberra to meet Paterson, who is shadow minister for countering foreign interference and former chair of parliament’s intelligence committee, as well as the committee’s current chair, Labor MP Peter Khalil. He also spoke to activists demonstrating in support of the Uyghur minority in the front lawn of Parliament House.
Pavlou said that after meeting Patterson and waiting to meet Khalil, he went to the Queen’s Terrace Cafe, located in a public area of Parliament House. In a tweet published around 1.30 pm, Pavlu claimed that the police asked him to leave the building.
In video of the incident seen by Guardian Australia, two AFP officers approached Pavlou and asked him to leave Parliament House until they met later in the day.
“Come back at six, it’s all right,” said one.
When Pavlu asked why he was being asked to leave, another officer replied “Because you are an active protester, they don’t allow active protestors in the house.” Pavlou replied that he was not protesting, just having lunch.
An officer replied, “You mentioned what your intentions are for the rest of the day.”
“It’s just policy and it comes down to the boss. We’re happy to have you in our meeting, but outside of that hanging out here…”
An official said Pavlu was considered “high risk”, noting that parliament staff were “antsy” after recent protests where a protester laid hands on a painting earlier this month.
“Unfortunately it came from above,” the official said. “They just wanted you out, but we were able to strike a deal with them.”
Pavlou agreed to leave, but said he was shocked at the request.
“I know I have protested in the past but I have never protested against Parliament,” he said. “Why would I?”
After Pavlu left Parliament, he claimed that another email was sent to the Parliament House address under a false account in his name, containing another violent threat. Pavlou said he was copied over the email by the person who sent it.
A spokesman for the Department of Parliamentary Services said it “does not comment on security matters”.
An AFP spokesman declined to explain why Pavlou was asked to leave.
“AFP can confirm that she engaged a man at Parliament House today who voluntarily left the building,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
“No arrests were made as a result of this incident. No further comment will be made on the matter.”
Patterson said he did not know why Pavlou was asked to leave.
“Australians who protest, including union officials and environmental activists, often go to Parliament House without being told to go by AFP,” he said.
“I am concerned that Mr Pavlu’s legitimate activism is being cited as a reason why he was not allowed to remain open to the public in areas of Parliament House, particularly the building without incident They had bipartisan meetings in a secure area.”
Khalil appeared on ABC TV shortly after Pavlu published his claims on Twitter. He said he had not yet met Pavlo, and was unsure of the details of the incident, but said it was a matter for the presiding officers of the parliament.
“I think it’s with him this time, Chairman [of the house] and the President [of the Senate] Who has control over the security of the house… I leave it to them and I will not comment on that because I do not know the facts,’ Khalil said.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Milton Dick said the request did not come from his office.