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Why I Was Attacked By Chinese Security Guards

June 24, 2010

Russel Norman
Voxy News (New Zealand)
June 22, 2010

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman gave a
personal explanation of the incident with Chinese
government staff on the steps of Parliament last week to Parliament today.

What follows is a transcript of his speech to the house:

Mr Speaker I seek leave to make a personal
explanation regarding the incident in front of
Parliament involving the Chinese Vice President on Friday.

Mr Speaker, Last Friday, in the lead up to the
arrival of the Chinese Vice President, I held up
a Tibetan flag at the bottom of the steps in front of parliament.

My purpose was to draw attention to the shocking
human rights abuses suffered by the Tibetan
people under Chinese Communist Party Government
occupation of their country, in line with this
parliament's long and honourable tradition of
speaking out to protect human rights.

I was well away from the security entrance to the
Beehive where the Vice President was expected to
arrive. I had no intention of getting close to
the Vice President but nor would I be hidden
away. I had not decided whether I would or would
not voice my concerns as well as holding the flag.

While I was standing still holding up the flag
and not speaking, someone who I can only assume
was part of the Chinese Communist Party
Government's security delegation, began to push
and obstruct me. I sought to avoid his pushing
and shoving by moving away from him but he
continued to push and harass my, up to then, silent protest.

I was incensed by the actions of the foreign
government's security person on the forecourt of
parliament pushing around a member of this house
and as the Chinese Vice President arrived I
called out "Freedom for the people of Tibet".

Shortly after I was then set upon by a number of,
what I can only assume were, Chinese Communist
Party Government security operatives who grabbed me from a number of sides.

Another member of the Chinese Communist Party
Government delegation, presumably a security
person, then placed an umbrella over me to try to
smother me and at that point I stepped forward
from under the umbrella to try to avoid it.

Another member of the Chinese Communist Party
Government delegation then tore the Tibetan flag
from my hands and stood on it. I reached forward
to recover the Tibetan flag from under the foot
of one of the security personnel. And then I held it aloft again.

In avoiding these assaults from the Chinese
Communist Government officials I was dragged closer to the security entrance.

Mr Speaker the Prime Minister John Key has
accused me of charging at the Chinese Communist
Party Government Vice President. I deny this. I
was intent on standing my ground but this proved
impossible in the face of the assaults from the
Chinese Communist Government security officials.

I certainly ended up closer to the Vice President
than I wished to, but at each step I was trying
to avoid the assaults of the Chinese Communist
Party Government security operatives who appeared
in control of the Parliamentary forecourt.

Mr Speaker the Deputy Prime Minister Bill English
has accused me of harassing the Vice President. I
deny this. I was standing still, well away from
the Vice President until the Chinese Government
security operatives started to push and harass me.

I would like to thank the New Zealand DPS officer
at the scene who was, in spite of being
outnumbered, doing his best to keep the Chinese
Communist Party Government security operatives
off me. I apologise to him for suggesting otherwise at the time.

I accept it looked a bit undignified, and that
isn't ideal. But it was pretty hard to look
dignified when you have a bunch of Chinese
Government security people grabbing hold of you
and pushing you around and putting an umbrella
over you and taking away the Tibetan flag you're holding!

But I would rather a little messy free speech
than seamless totalitarian silence. Thanks to
everyone who sent messages of support, especially
the many Chinese and Tibetan people here and
overseas who fear to speak out but see our
country as a beacon of hope for democracy and free speech.

And to those who disagreed with my actions, I
defend your right to free speech too.
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