Letter to University of Queensland Chancellor: We stand with Drew Pavlou

Dear Chancellor Peter Varghese,

We write to you today to express our grave concerns over the University of Queensland’s treatment of student leader Drew Pavlou as reported in numerous media stories.

As members of the global Tibet movement, we join the thousands of students and supporters who have signed the petition calling on your university to drop the charges against Mr. Pavlou. 

The attempt to silence Mr. Pavlou, an advocate for human rights and freedom, is antithetical to the university’s cherished value of academic integrity. We are particularly concerned that he is penalised for speaking up for those whose voices are brutally suppressed by the authoritarian Chinese government.  

Should the expulsion of Mr. Pavlou from the university go ahead, it will ring the death knell for free speech on Australian campuses and reveal the extent of China’s influence on the University of Queensland.

Universities around the globe that host China’s Confucius Institutes are routinely found to be doing the bidding of the Chinese government. Though marketed as a language and cultural exchange program, Confucius Institutes are designed to use their foothold in academic institutions like yours to control the discourse on China and censor critical political issues such as those relating to Tibet, East Turkestan, Taiwan, Falun Gong, Hong Kong, and the Tiananmen Square massacre. 

Precisely because of these issues, the New South Wales Department of Education terminated the Chinese government-funded and -controlled language program in 2019. Over the past year, thirteen American universities also ended their ties with the Confucius Institute. Momentum to reject Chinese propaganda in schools and universities is also growing in Europe, with Sweden closing the last of its Confucius Institute this month. We urge you to follow their lead and protect academic freedom on Australian campuses.


Kyinzom Dhongdue, Executive Officer, Australia Tibet Council

Tenzin Phuntsok, President, Tibetan Community of Queensland 

Dorjee Tseten, Executive Director, Students for a Free Tibet

Mandie McKeown, Campaigns Coordinator, International Tibet Network

Dr Cuong Bui, President, Vietnamese Community in Australia – Queensland Chapter

Vincent Do, President, Thanh Niên Dân Chủ Democratic Youth


Professor Peter Høj, Vice-Chancellor

Professor Peter Adams, President of the Board

Australia Tibet Council campaigns for the freedom and human rights of Tibetans. We are the largest community of Australians standing in solidarity with the people of Tibet and supporting the Tibetans’ right to self-determination.

Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) works in solidarity with the Tibetan people in their struggle for freedom and independence. We are a chapter-based network of young people and activists around the world. We have 650 high school, university, and community chapters in over 30 countries. Through education, grassroots organising, and nonviolent direct action, we campaign for Tibetans’ fundamental right to political freedom.

The Tibetan Community of Queensland is a local community organisation with members who are mostly former political prisoners from Chinese-occupied Tibet and have moved to Australia as part of the government’s humanitarian assistance.

International Tibet Network is a coalition of more than 180 Tibet organisations, campaigning for an end to human rights violations in Tibet and restoring rights to the Tibetan people.