Universities must uphold students’ right to protest in safety, as Israel’s genocide intensifies

May 2, 2024

The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) reiterates its call for Australian universities to proactively uphold the safety and democratic rights of students to peacefully protest Israel’s genocide in Gaza, after students at Monash University’s Gaza encampment were last night attacked by pro-Israel supporters.

APAN also stands in solidarity with the student protesters at Monash, and at university campuses across the continent, as they accept their moral duty to challenge institutional and political complicity with Israel’s ongoing atrocities across occupied Palestine.

Student protesters at the Monash encampment, which was launched yesterday, have reported being attacked and intimidated in their tents overnight by 12 men wearing Australian and Israeli flags, who also directed Islamophobic, homophobic and transphobic slurs at the students.

Student organisers also reported that campus security and police failed to intervene to prevent the men from destroying parts of the camp infrastructure, including the camp kitchen.

Universities have a duty not only to protect their students’ and educators’ democratic right to freedom of expression, but also to actively oppose Israel’s genocide and violations of international law.

Monash University’s Gaza Solidarity Encampment demands that the university disclose and divest from its connections with genocidal Israel and arms manufacturers that are facilitating and profiting from Israel’s atrocities in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

Israel’s Occupying Forces have killed at least 34,568 Palestinians and wounded more than 77,750 in almost seven months, and have this week vowed to proceed with an attack on Rafah, which would be catastrophic for the 1.5 million starving, traumatised and displaced Palestinians sheltering there. 

More than 80 per cent of Gaza’s schools and all of its universities have been destroyed in what UN experts have described as “scholasticide” – the “intentional effort to comprehensively destroy the Palestinian education system.”

Quotes attributed to APAN President Nasser Mashni:

“It is unconscionable that our educational institutions are cultivating relationships with a genocidal regime and companies and entities that profit from Israel’s brutality towards Palestinians.

“Students are justified in their protests against this complicity, and must be safeguarded as they exercise their democratic right to express themselves and demand that their universities are leaders when it comes to human rights.

“The community at large must be buoyed by the courage of these young people and follow their example in turning all of our attention towards Gaza, doing whatever we can to end this genocide and demanding justice for the Palestinian people.”

Quotes attributed to Students for Palestine Monash:

We will not be intimidated by these people, and we will continue with our camp in solidarity with Gaza.

“We call on the community to join us to show that we will not be intimidated, and to camp out tonight with us.”