Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong recently stated that Australia draws a line between peaceful protest and violence and vandalism, when asked regarding the anti-India protest by Khalistani supporters in Australia.
Wong was responding to a question about the India-Canada diplomatic spat over India expelling Canadian diplomats, following the assassination of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada, in an interview with The Hindu.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and Foreign Minister Penny Wong are in Delhi for the 2+2 ministerial dialogue between Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
When asked about Australia's view of the India-Canada issue and whether she thinks that India is in violation of the Vienna Convention, the foreign minister said, "I’m not going to get into a judgment about whether international law or principle has or has not been abrogated, but I will say — this we have an in principle view about the importance of the rule of law and about sovereignty. And we have engaged with our Indian counterparts in accordance with those principles."
About Prime Minister Narendra Modi's calls to protect Indian-origin minorities in Australia, she said, "We have a large Indian diaspora which is our second largest. I think it’s our fastest growing and part of what drives our relationship is our people."
Wong added, "We also safeguard our democracy so we believe people have the right to disagree. People have the right to protest peacefully, and people have the right to freedom of expression. What we have made clear on these sorts of issues is that we do not accept vandalism or violence. Those are contrary to our law and to our principles."
Addressing the perceived view in India regarding Australian government inaction over the Khalistani separatist group, the foreign minister stated, "We respect your sovereignty. And we also are very clear about the line between peaceful protests, freedom of expression and violence and vandalism."
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