Protesters ‘we shall not be moved’ after setting up camp in University of Melbourne building

Pro-Palestine activists have started an occupation of the a building at the University of Melbourne.

Approximately 100 students brought tents and began a sit-in at the Arts West building while chanting “we shall not be moved” through megaphones, echoing similar university stand-offs taking place across campuses worldwide in recent weeks.

The students have temporarily renamed the building as “Mahmoud’s Hall” after Mahmoud Al Haq, a prospective University of Melbourne student who perished in Gaza.

Protesters blocked entrances to the building with furniture, with the University of Melbourne threatening to get Victoria Police to enforce an evacuation.

Classes in the vicinity were cancelled from the afternoon as university officials struggled to maintain the disruption.

“The university is working with university security and, if required, Victoria Police to ensure the safety and security of all students and staff,” a statement issued on Wednesday read.

“Classes in Arts West have been cancelled from 3.15pm on Wednesday, May 15. Further advice will be provided via subject co-ordinators once available.

“For the safety and security of all students and staff, please avoid the area.”

The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) criticised Australian universities for attempting to curtail the protest, reminding authorities the importance of the right to protest in a democracy.

“It is unacceptable that the University of Melbourne has threatened to penalise students involved in protests,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

“Protest is a vital and legitimate right within a democracy, and it is a credit to these students and university staff that they are exercising this right.”

The group has taken aim at the University of Melbourne Deputy Vice-Chancellor Pip Nicholson, claiming she “threatened all students”.

“The students have taken it upon themselves to sit in the building as a response to UoM’s (University of Melbourne’s) refusal to divest,” the group said.

Officials at Monash University have dished out similar warnings as similar protests have taken place. Heated clashes and large encampments have also been reported at the university’s Clayton campus, in Melbourne’s south east.

Former federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg is one of many prominent voices who has criticised the protests urging Australian universities to dismantle these “camps of hate.”

Later on Wednesday, Melbourne University issued a new statement as tensions continued to mount.

“Today’s behaviour, including the refusal to leave the building, was unacceptable and will be investigated,” it said.

“The University of Melbourne is also increasingly concerned about the level of mis- and disinformation being shared online.

“Freedom of speech is respected and supported at the University of Melbourne and is central to our values and identity. The university welcomes debate and peaceful protest on campus, provided it does not extend to violence, threat or intimidation.”

“Earlier today, university leadership attended the protest without security or police, to ask them to leave the building peacefully.

“Those involved in the protest were advised that in the event they did not leave peacefully, the matter could be referred to security and police.’’

Melbourne has seen ongoing public action as bombs continue to rain down on civilians in Gaza. Last month, more than a dozen protesters were arrested in the Victorian capital.

Last week, Sydney saw one of its biggest demonstrations against the violence occurring in Gaza.

Contentious slogans equating Zionism with fascism and Israel with apartheid could be seen on the streets of Australia’s largest city as thousands marched in furious “hands off Rafah” rallies.

Israel is preparing to move on the southern Gazan city of Rafah to eliminate the senior leadership of terror group Hamas, which launched the October 7 terror attack on Israel that killed 1200 Israeli men, women and children.

Read related topics:Melbourne

Leave a Comment