Pro-Palestine Protesters Arrested After Scaling Australian Parliament Roof

Pro-Palestine Protesters Arrested After Scaling Australian Parliament Roof

Four pro-Palestine protesters were detained on Thursday after climbing onto the roof of Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra. The incident, which drew criticism from lawmakers, coincided with the resignation of a ruling party senator over the government’s stance on Palestine.

The protesters remained on the roof for about an hour, displaying black banners, including one that read, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a slogan commonly used by pro-Palestine activists. One protester used a megaphone to accuse the Israeli government of committing war crimes, an allegation that Israel denies.

“We will not forget, we will not forgive, and we will continue to resist,” the protester declared.

Authorities advised people to avoid the main entrance while security personnel attempted to remove the demonstrators. The protesters eventually dismantled their banners and were escorted away by police around 11:30 am local time (02:30 WAT).

The four individuals were arrested, charged with trespassing, and banned from Parliament grounds for two years, according to an Australian Capital Territory police spokesperson.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese condemned the protests, stating, “Those responsible should face the full consequences of the law. Peaceful protest is important in our society, but this was not peaceful.”

Speaker of the House Milton Dick announced an investigation into the security breach.

The protests coincided with the resignation of Fatima Payman, a senator from the ruling Labour Party, who stepped down to become an independent after being suspended for supporting a motion favoring Palestinian statehood.

“Seeing our government’s apathy towards the greatest injustice of our time makes me question the party’s direction,” she said at a news conference.

Australia has been calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict for months but does not currently recognize Palestinian statehood. However, Foreign Minister Penny Wong indicated in May that recognition might occur before a formal peace process between Israel and Palestinian authorities concludes.

Payman’s departure could complicate Labour’s ability to pass legislation in the Senate, where they lack a majority.

The conflict in Gaza began on October 7 when Hamas militants attacked southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostages, according to Israel. Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed nearly 38,000 people, according to Gaza’s health ministry, and devastated the densely populated coastal area.

A U.N. inquiry last month found that both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes in the early stages of the Gaza conflict, stating that Israel’s actions also amounted to crimes against humanity due to significant civilian casualties.

Since the conflict began, Australia has seen numerous pro-Palestine protests, including weekly rallies in major cities and prolonged occupations of university campuses.

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