Academics write in support of Anne-Marie Brady, urge PM to take action on China

by Anusha Bradley / 26 November, 2018
RelatedArticlesModule - anne marie

Illustration / Getty Images

The prime minister is being told she must make it clear to China that attempts to intimidate and silence academics here will not be tolerated.

Twenty-nine academics, researchers and human rights advocates have written an open letter to Jacinda Ardern in support of China critic and Canterbury University politics professor Anne-Marie Brady.

"We have been shocked and disturbed by the reports of intimidation and harassment suffered by Professor Anne-Marie Brady," the letter said.

"Attempts to intimidate and harass one academic in New Zealand have implications for freedoms of all the others - and indeed, for the freedoms of all who live here."

The group also urged the prime minister to "make a clear statement in defence of academic freedom" in light of the case and to be "very clear that any intimidation and threats aimed at silencing academic voices in this country will not be tolerated".

It was revealed that Prof Brady had been burgled in February and the police, Interpol and the Security Intelligence Service were investigating the involvement of Chinese spies.

Professor Anne-Marie Brady. Photo / Wilson Centre

The investigation widened two weeks ago when, in a new twist, Prof Brady's mechanic discovered during a WOF examination, that two of her tyres had also been tampered with.

One of the 29 signatories to the letter, published today, was sociologist and commentator Tze Ming Mok, who said the prime minister was not doing enough to send a clear message to the Chinese government.

"The silence is very conspicuous."

"There is never a bad time to signal really clearly to all our trading partners that we are a particular kind of country, we have particular kinds of standards, and there are some things we will not stand for."

Prof Brady's experiences have already had a chilling effect amongst China-focused experts in this country with many unwilling to comment on the saga publicly, she said.

Margaret Taylor, a spokesperson for Amnesty International, which also signed the letter, said it was not only academics but the Chinese community in New Zealand who feared being targeted by their former government.

"People who have spoken to us, and they are very brave for doing so, are terrified that if they do speak out they will come under the attention of the Chinese authorities.

"Many of them don't speak to their family members, they're too scared to contact anybody at home."

Prof Brady said she felt "humbled" by the support, not only from her peers who signed the letter but from the wider public since the story about the burglaries broke.

But she was just doing her job, she said.

"The Education Act requires all political leaders and government agencies to protect and defend our academic freedom and uphold the critic and conscience role of the academic.

"So I do my job, and I expect the government to do their job."

A spokesperson for the prime minister said she supported and defended the legal right to academic freedom, as set out in law.

"The matters contained in this letter are under investigation by the police and it is not appropriate to comment on them before the investigation is finished."

But Prof Brady said the investigation was over, and the issue was now in the government's hands.

"The police have done a really great job and a thorough investigation has been completed. The next step now is the political will that needs to have the guts to face up to the situation."

This article was originally published by RNZ.


Prepare for a return to the 'old normal' of sharemarket volatility
100287 2018-12-18 00:00:00Z Investment

Prepare for a return to the 'old normal' of sharem…

by Pattrick Smellie

In the decade since the global financial crisis, investors have enjoyed a steady upward ride and very few shocks.

Read more
Is cryptocurrency a haven from market volatility?
100307 2018-12-18 00:00:00Z Investment

Is cryptocurrency a haven from market volatility?

by Nikki Mandow

It’s been a wild ride for cryptocurrencies over the past year, but can they become a stable store of wealth for investors?

Read more
Stop your new build from feeling cookie-cutter with these clever solutions
100101 2018-12-18 00:00:00Z Property

Stop your new build from feeling cookie-cutter wit…

by Noted

Building a new home but want something unique? These creative solutions prove new-builds and personality do go together.

Read more
Dumplings with Wings is the new place to get your dumpling fix
100543 2018-12-17 15:39:32Z Auckland Eats

Dumplings with Wings is the new place to get your …

by Alex Blackwood

Dumplings with Wings' colourful creations take cues from all over the world.

Read more
The Children Act doesn't do justice to Ian McEwan's novel
100520 2018-12-17 11:27:11Z Movies

The Children Act doesn't do justice to Ian McEwan'…

by James Robins

Emma Thompson may be on the bench but legal drama The Children Act is yet another example of the limits of literary adaptation.

Read more
After a testing year, can Simon Bridges survive 2019?
100499 2018-12-17 08:57:04Z Politics

After a testing year, can Simon Bridges survive 20…

by Jane Patterson

Simon Bridges has held on to the National Party leadership as a testing year ends, but how secure is his position? He says he's not worried.

Read more
Capital offences: A grammarian on nouns proper and common
99726 2018-12-17 00:00:00Z Education

Capital offences: A grammarian on nouns proper and…

by Ray Prebble

A look at the nuances of nouns.

Read more
Two small South Island towns' annual clash for the Cup o' Wood
99541 2018-12-17 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Two small South Island towns' annual clash for the…

by Mike White

For 70 years, neighbouring Central Otago villages St Bathans and Becks have taken to the rugby field to battle for the Wooden Cup.

Read more