Community Safety

Pro-Palestine protesters arrested after unfurling banners on roof of Parliament House

July 4, 2024

Thursday 04 July 2024
Olivia Ireland and Jessica McSweeney

Pro-Palestine protesters were able to climb to the roof at the entrance to Parliament House in Canberra and unfurl banners on Thursday morning at the same time as a group of climate protesters glued themselves to bollards in the building’s Marble Foyer.

Four people were atop parliament wearing keffiyehs and masks as security scrambled to get them down, with a banner hanging beneath the coat of arms of Australia reading “war crimes … enabled here”. They were escorted off the roof shortly before midday.

The protests come after a fractious fortnight in parliament where rogue Labor senator Fatima Payman has been suspended from the party caucus after crossing the floor to vote in favour of a Greens motion to recognise Palestinian statehood. Parliament will rise for its long winter break on Thursday evening, with the next parliamentary sitting day on August 12.

There has been heightened concern about the security of MPs after several had their electorate offices vandalised by pro-Palestinian protesters in recent weeks.

Other banners at the front of the building read: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “No peace on stolen land. Genocide since 1788”.

The group chanted “free, free Palestine” and “stop the bombing now, now, now”.

Earlier, climate protesters had also made their way into the Marble Foyer and glued their hands to bollards.

Police quietly removed about a dozen people from the building before others ran through parliament after hearing about the pro-Palestine protesters, saying: “They have jumped the fence”, suggesting protesters made their way from the grass section of parliament and went over the fence to get to the roof. Fences on the grass sections of Parliament House were installed in 2017.

The protesters took one of the banners down while talking to police before they were removed from the roof. They had earlier thrown a paper plane to the ground below with a statement.

“On the Fourth of July, we emphasise the point that Australia relentlessly continues to enable and commit war crimes as an ally of our ‘great and powerful friends’,” the statement read.

“We use the occasion of the fourth of July to call for true independence from the USA and an end to the enabling of war crimes.”

The four were arrested and escorted down to the parliament car park, calling out “free Palestine”, before they were put into police cars and driven away.

In a statement, police said the four protesters had been banned from Parliament House for two years for the stunt.

Several Liberal MPs slammed the demonstration, saying people were “fed up with those types of protesters”.

“We stand in defence of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. But that’s got to be done in a way that doesn’t put other people in danger, and doesn’t create massive inconvenience for other Australians,” senator Simon Birmingham said on Sky News.

“That drives people to be fed up with those types of protesters.”

Fellow Liberal senator James Paterson said on X that the protests were “a serious breach of the parliament’s security”.

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