Pro-Palestinian protesters breach security at Australian Parliament Building to unfurl banners


MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Pro-Palestinian protesters breached security at Australia’s parliament building on Thursday to unfurl banners from the roof, after a senator quit the government over its course in the Gaza war.

Tensions over Israel’s war on Hamas dominated parliament’s final day of session before a five-week recess.

The four protesters were arrested after displaying the words “war crimes” and “genocide” and the Palestinian rallying cry “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” on the facade of the building, known as the Grand Porch, for more than an hour.

Inside the building, Afghan-born Senator Fatima Payman, the only Australian federal lawmaker to ever wear a hijab in session, announced she had quit the ruling Labor Party over her refusal to toe the party line on Gaza.

“My family did not flee a war-torn country to come here as refugees so that I would remain silent when I saw atrocities being inflicted on innocent people,” Payman told reporters.

“When I see how indifferent our government is to the greatest injustice of our time, I wonder where the party is heading,” she added.

The first-term senator defied her government colleagues last week by supporting a minor party motion demanding that the Senate “recognize the state of Palestine.”

Australia does not recognise a Palestinian state. The government is committed to a two-state solution in which Israel and a future Palestinian state can live together in peace and security within internationally recognised borders, the policy states.

Payman will remain in the Senate as an independent lawmaker, the first government lawmaker to leave since Prime Minister Anthony AlbaneseThe board was elected in 2022.

According to the police, the four demonstrators are likely to be charged with trespassing.

They have been banned from entering the parliament building for two years, according to a police statement.

The protesters caused a security crackdown at the parliament building, preventing many people from entering. The public galleries of both the House of Representatives and the Senate were kept empty as a precaution.

House Speaker Milton Dick said he was “deeply concerned” about the protests and ordered an upgrade in security. Police were investigating how protesters gained access to a secured area.

Albanian told parliament he condemned the protest.

“Peaceful protest has an important place in our society, but this was not a peaceful protest,” Albanese said.

“These actions have done absolutely nothing to advance any cause. In fact, they have harmed the cause that those engaged in this reckless activity believe they are advancing,” Albanese added.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton demanded to know who let the protesters into the building, calling their message anti-Semitic.

“We need to understand the gravity of this situation because these images will go around the world,” Dutton told Parliament.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top