Party Launch event, from left to right: Inty Elham, Kyinzom Dhongdue,
Max Mok, Drew Pavlou and Adila Yarmuhammad (Photo: Drew Pavlou Instagram)
An outspoken University of Queensland student Drew Pavlou first gained media attention in July 2019 when he organized a protest at the University of Queensland to support the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement.
“I held that one protest and then my life changed forever,” he told ABC News. Some pro-Beijing students attacked Mr. Pavlou at the event. Someone caught the assault on video, which went viral. It marked the beginning of Mr. Pavlou’s public activism against the Chinese Communist Party. However, he emphasizes his party, the Democratic Alliance, is not against the Chinese people.
According to the party website, the primary goals of the Drew Pavlou Democratic Alliance are to 1) Strengthen Aussie democracy and fight corruption, 2) Stand up to China and fight corruption, 3) Not to leave one Aussie behind i. e to tackle poverty and homelessness and 4) to support a renewables superpower and economic nation-building.
The party also pledges to recognize the genocide of Uyghurs and Tibetans and support their self-determinations. Among the primary policies of the party is to sanction genocidal Chinese officials and support Hong Kong democracy, Pavlou tells the ABC.
The Alliance had a launch event at Hyde Park in Sydney on Wednesday, a few days after a local billboard business had refused to run their party advertisement out of fear of retaliation.
Uyghur candidates to run with the Alliance
All of the five candidates of Mr. Pavlou’s party come from an immigrant background. Speaking to NCA NewsWire, Mr. Pavlou said all the candidates have directly experienced persecution by the Chinese communist regime.
Drew Pavlou says his party is proud to have the first Uyghur candidates to run in an election. ‘[They are] the first Uyghur candidates anywhere in the entire world to run at an election,’ Mr. Pavlou told the Sky News.
Adelaide-born Adila Yarmuhammad, 21, is one of the Uyghur candidates. She will be the youngest Muslim woman running in the 2022 federal election. ‘Even just running [for a seat] is enough, it is showing other women and younger girls that this is possible,’ she told ABC News.
Another Uyghur candidate is a 27-year-old Uyghur-Australian Inty Elham. In her speech posted on her Instagram account, Ms. Elham says that she never thought of entering politics.
‘I am running at the next federal election in Sturt in Adelaide’ Ms. Elham says, ‘I am an Uyghur Australian woman, I am proud of my heritage, and I’m proud of being Australian’.
‘I ever believed that I would enter politics. I run my own health care business, I’m a human rights advocate, and I also enjoy singing and performing at cultural events weddings.’
Party launch event (source: Inty Elham Instagram)
‘I’m not a career politician. I already have a career. But like so many Australians, I have a concern for our society, and I feel the need to do something before it’s too late. I know firsthand what the Chinese government is capable of, and it’s time that we Australians wake up to the increasing Chinese government interference in Australia. And take action to protect our democracy at all costs.’ Ms. Elham concludes.
Max Mok, 21, a Hong Kong pro-democracy activist, will challenge Liberal Gladys Liu for a seat of Chisholm. Mr. Mok said he used to be a student in that electorate, and his family has lived in Chisholm for a long time.
‘As a Hongkonger, I have been fighting on the front lines of Hong Kong, alongside brothers and sisters of all nationalities’, Mok writes on the party website.
Finally, there is Kyinzom Dhongdue, a Tibetan-Australian activist from Sydney. She is aiming for a seat in the New South Wales Senate. Ms. Dhongdue said she was the first Tibetan Australian to run for the Australian Parliament.
‘We want to fight for Australian democracy. This is our only home; what can we do if the Chinese Communist Party comes to our only home and tries to censor us, and intimidate us, and threaten us here in Australia, our own country?’ Pavlou concludes in the Sky News interview.