Police should consider assault charges

Stuff reports:

Green MP Russel Norman had a Tibetan flag torn from his hands by a member of Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping’s entourage when he arrived at Parliament today.

Dr Norman said he believed it was one of the vice president’s security guards.

Arriving in a convoy of around six vehicles with a police escort, the guards initially tried to shield the flag with their bodies and umbrellas before it was torn from Dr Norman’s hand with a member of the vice president’s entourage standing on it as the VIP was rushed through the front entrance of Parliament.

“I think it’s pretty outrageous that Chinese security can come to our country and push around an elected Member of Parliament simply because you’re standing up for democracy and freedom in our own country on our own parliamentary grounds,” Dr Norman said afterwards.

“I mean, the Chinese security guards, they elbowed me out of the way, they put an umbrella over the top of me and they took the flag out of my hands and trampled on it.”

With some blood on his hand following the scuffle, Dr Norman said he had never experienced such treatment on Parliament’s grounds, he said.

“We were roughed up, they grabbed us and pushed us around.”

The Chinese security guards obviously exceeded their brief, and there should be consequences for that. Unless Dr Norman was a physical threat to the Vice-President, they had no right to manhandle him. Keeping an embarrassing sign out of sight is not a legitimate reason.

We had much the same in Dunedin in 2008 when Pete Hodgson manhandled a protester who was holding a sign up behind Helen Clark, which the cameras could see. Hodgson was investigated for assault in that incident, and the Chinese security should also be investigated for assault.

Personally I think Dr Norman looks like a prize idiot when he acts as a lone protester rather than a party leader – but he has the right to do so.

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