APAN stands with students as universities order disbandment of encampments

May 15, 2024

The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) reaffirms its support for university Palestine solidarity encampments across the continent, in the face of orders from two universities – Deakin and the Australian National University (ANU) – for students to disband their encampments.

It also comes as the University of Melbourne has threatened to call police, and institute “regrettable and serious measures” and “decisions that will seriously escalate the tension” if students do not move from a protest inside one of the university’s buildings.

It is deeply alarming that universities are curtailing students’ legitimate right to protest the connections of their educational institutions with the genocidal rogue state of Israel and with weapons companies that facilitate and profit from its human rights abuses.

And it is unacceptable that the ANU and University of Melbourne have threatened to penalise students involved in protests.

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 despite attempts by Zionist groups, the mainstream media and politicians of various stripes to smear, silence and punish them.

APAN joins the students and their allies in rejecting accusations that these encampments threaten campus safety, or the safety of individual students or staff. 

We assert that these accusations are merely attempts to censor freedom of expression and public political action, by those who feel uncomfortable about their political positions when it comes to Israel’s genocide.

Having one’s political beliefs challenged must not be conflated with antisemitism or a “threat to safety.” 

This discomfort should instead be understood as an invitation for intellectual curiosity, learning and openness to new principles that align with the principles of human rights.

It is the duty of every university to uphold students’ and staff rights to free speech, the contestation of ideas and political debate. 

Likewise, universities must create campuses that are free of any association with states, organisations or companies that are committing – or a complicit with – genocide.

APAN calls on all Australian universities to take immediate measures to protect the academic freedom and democratic rights of all students and staff.