Activists to revisit controversial ‘Where is Peng Shuai’ protests at January Australian Open | Australia News

Activists plan to resume their controversial “Where’s Peng Shuai?” protest at next month’s grand slam, with support from three-time Australian Open winner Martina Navratilova.

At this year’s Open in January, Tennis Australia came under fire for initially confiscating the shirts, citing a ban on “commercial or political” material. The decision was later reversed.

Protesters tell hundreds of new “Where’s Peng Shuai?” shirts have already been printed with the intention of distributing 1,000 to tennis fans outside the gates of the Australian Open.

Peng disappeared from public view for several weeks in 2021 after she took to social media to accuse a senior Communist Party official of pushing her to have sex.

Her post was quickly deleted and she eventually appeared in photo ops organized by Chinese officials. Little is known about her wellbeing and the Women’s Tennis Association has repeatedly called for an independent investigation.

“I support the protests,” said Navratilova, a former number one tennis player.

“The Women’s Tennis Association is the only one that has really tried to do something [about Peng Shuai].”

One of the protest organizers, Drew Pavlou, said he planned to ‘create problems’ for Tennis Australia, saying its business deals with Chinese companies presented a conflict of interest over human rights issues. ‘male.

“Unfortunately for them, they are going to have these political issues on their hands for the next few years,” Pavlou said.

“We’re just not going to let this tension and contradiction go unnoticed and we’re going to cause problems for Tennis Australia.”

Last month, Australian Federal Police officers escorted Pavlou out of Parliament in Canberra, with the rights activist saying he had been deemed a “high risk person”.

Pavlou had met with Liberal Senator James Paterson who said he was “concerned” that federal police and the Speaker of Parliament had not confirmed why Pavlou had been asked to leave the building.

The WTA no longer visits China and has pledged to continue boycotting the country until there is more transparency around its treatment and well-being.

The upcoming protests were also welcomed by Human Rights Watch senior China researcher Yaqiu Wang, who said she was encouraged by the continued activism.

“The international community should continue to pay attention to Peng and keep his story and fate in the public domain,” Wang said.

“Many prominent women, including athletes around the world, have told their #MeToo stories, but few are paying the price Peng is paying.

“The least people in the free world can do is show they still care about him and continue to press for information about his fate and well-being.”

Bonnie Wong, a science student also involved in planning the Melbourne protest, said she expected Tennis Australia to allow them to wear the shirts inside stadiums.

“I hope so, but last year it was not easy. They tried to stop us as we were handing out outside the gate and people were taking the shirts with them,” Wong said.

“If the Australian Open can cooperate with us and allow us to spread this message, that would be really great.”

In January, Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said the ban on shirts would be lifted provided those wearing them behaved well.

“Yes, as long as they don’t come in droves to disrupt but are peaceful,” he said. “It all got a bit lost in translation from some people who aren’t here and don’t really know the full view.”

Similar shirts were worn at Wimbledon this year where campaigners said they were confronted with security. A spokesman for the All England Club said they were permitted to continue wearing the shirts.

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