Pro-Palestine protesters move on in ‘good faith’ act

Bray Boland |

Students barricade the pro-Palestine protest camp at the Australian National University on Monday.
Students barricade the pro-Palestine protest camp at the Australian National University on Monday.

Student protesters demonstrating in support of Palestine at the Australian National University have relocated their camp in an act of “good faith”.

Police had given the university students until midday on Tuesday to move from Kambri Lawn, a primary evacuation zone for emergencies.

Al Smith, representing the student protesters, said the decision to move on from the original site was a “good faith measure” as they wanted to engage with the university constructively.

“We see it as a way to keep the the camp around and on a longer-term basis until our demands are met,” she said.

An ANU spokesman said the university would continue to discuss protest options for students.

“ANU has provided options for the protestors to continue their protests in ways that are respectful and safe for the entire university community and campus,” he said.

“As has always been the case, the students have always had the right to protest – so long as they do so in ways that are safe, are appropriate for our campus and which adhere to Australian law and our codes of conduct.”

In a statement, the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network commended the students for “holding fast”.

“Even in the face of threats of punitive academic measures, and continuing to advocate for the ANU to sever all ties with entities profiting from or facilitating Israel’s genocide in Gaza,” the statement reads.

The developments at ANU follow news of other camps at the University of Melbourne and Curtin University in Western Australia packing up and going home.

Campus security told the Canberra protesters to clear the area early on Monday following a directive from the university.

Protesters hold arms at ANU.
Police previously gave protesters at ANU a deadline to move their camp by noon on Tuesday. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

However, the students dug their heels in and put out a call for support from the community.

More than 100 people showed up to support the camp as protesters linked arms around the tents to stop anyone from entering.

As pressure mounted to make a decision on whether to stay or leave and as the police presence grew, protesting students held a vote in which an overwhelming majority voted to stay.

The ANU pro-Palestine encampment is demanding the university cut ties with weapons manufacturing companies, disclose and divest from all entities complicit in the “genocide in Gaza” and cut academic ties with Israel.

The university maintains it has never told the students to stop protesting but they must move to another area to avoid safety risks to all students on the campus.

The encampment was located in a main evacuation route for the campus and a failed evacuation on Wednesday highlighted “intolerable risk to students, staff and wider public”.

Students at the encampment say the university had refused to meet with them to discuss a compromise before they were surprised with an eviction notice early Monday morning.

On October 7, designated terrorist group Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1200 people and taking more than 200 hostages, according to Tel Aviv.

Israel retaliated, launching a bombing campaign and counter-offensive in Gaza that, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, has killed nearly 36,000 Palestinians, injured more than 80,000 and displaced more than 1.7 million.