Classes cancelled as anti-Israel activists hold Melbourne University building hostage

Melbourne University has halted classes following protests at the Arts West building.

Classes cancelled as anti-Israel activists hold Melbourne University building hostage
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Melbourne University has been forced to cancel classes on Thursday due to persistent protests by anti-Israel activists barricading the entrance to the school's art building.

On Wednesday hundreds of students initiated a sit-in at the Arts West building, vowing not to vacate until the university ceases "funding genocide".

Renaming the structure "Mahmoud's Hall" after Mahmoud Al Haq, a casualty in Gaza, the protesters remained in place overnight and into Thursday morning.

Despite the university administration's attempts to dislodge them, with classes suspended from 3pm Wednesday, the demonstrators persisted, asserting their resilience with declarations akin to "like the olive trees of Palestine, we will not be uprooted". 

The University's statement Thursday morning conceded ongoing disruptions due to the sit-in, announcing the continued cancellation of classes in the building.

Security measures have been amplified on campus since the encampments began on Anzac Day. The protesters, clad in keffiyehs, filled the halls, chanting antisemitic slogans and obstructing entrances with furniture. Notably controversial were chants of "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free".

Amid the demonstration, one student expressed relief over cancelled classes, deeming the environment "quite scary". 

The demands of the protesters include the severance of university ties with weapons manufacturers and aviation conglomerates. 

Despite staff requests for peaceful evacuation, the protesters maintain that only the university has the power to end the demonstration by cutting ties with these entities.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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