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Students rally for Palestine, defy orders to shut camp

Pro-Palestine occupations at the University of Melbourne are set to be packed up.

Pro-Palestine occupations at the University of Melbourne are set to be packed up. Photo: AAP

Students at a third Melbourne university are defying an order they dismantle their on-campus pro-Palestine encampment.

La Trobe Students for Palestine said the university has not met their calls and will hold a snap rally on Monday at the Bundoora campus after the deadline for the camp’s removal ended on Sunday.

They are demanding the university not evict them from the encampment, no academic discipline against student protesters and for the university to cut all ties with engineering conglomerate Honeywell and Israel.

The university on Friday ordered the camp to be disbanded, citing the safety, wellbeing and amenity of campus users and visitors was behind the decision.

“Although the protests at La Trobe have been relatively peaceful and no classes have been interrupted to date, the University has considered the risks associated with the continued encampment activity,” it said.

La Trobe organisers said their protest was peaceful and that the university’s directive was part of a pattern of universities attempting to “crush pro-Palestine encampments”.

They say La Trobe vice-chancellor Theo Farrell has not attempted to engage with the student’s demands.

About 70 people joined a snap student-staff rally on Saturday to defend free speech and oppose the university’s directive, organisers said.

Monday marks the fifth day students have occupied a building at the University of Melbourne in Parkville, saying they have no plans to leave after failed talks with university leaders.

The university said the occupation of the Arts West building has affected more than 15,000 students across 474 classes and alternative arrangements were being made for students and staff on Monday and Tuesday.

The building was closed on Friday following an inspection of the physical safety conditions which found damage and obstructions to required emergency exits, fire panel access and fire-fighting equipment.

The university says the protest is a safety risk and police “may choose” to attend campus at any time but have not yet been asked to intervene.

Monash University protesters claimed their camp was “forcefully dismantled” on Friday, however, the university said organisers had told them of plans to pack up the encampment.

A pro-Israel camp at the University of Queensland was disbanded on Friday but a pro-Palestine camp remained.

Student protesters at the Australian National University in Canberra have been told to leave or the university could consider disciplinary action.

Demonstrators at the University of Sydney have promised to continue their encampment and have not ruled out moving inside like students in Melbourne.

– AAP

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