ANU expels pro-Palestine student but continues links with arms manufacturers

The Australian National University in Canberra has expelled student Beatrice Tucker for comments made on ABC radio. The expulsion bans the student from entering campus or continuing their studies. This comes a week after the ANU called police on the student encampment.

Students and Staff Against War at ANU has been circulating an open letter condemning any disciplinary action taken against Tucker. It has so far garnered more than 500 signatures and over 50 staff signatures.

Hundreds attended a National Tertiary Education Union rally on 16 May after the ANU sent seven students letters requesting they leave the camp. And hundreds prevented police from arresting students in the camp on 27 May.

On 30 April, ABC presenter Ross Solly repeatedly asked pro-Palestinian ANU encampment members on ABC radio whether they condemn Hamas.

Tucker responded by affirming their solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for national liberation and their UN-recognised right to resist occupation, saying, “Hamas deserves our unconditional support … Not because I agree with their strategy, [I’m in] complete disagreement with that.”

Right-wing

After making these comments, Tucker was targeted by right-wing media outlets like The Australian and Zionist organisations like the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. They demanded Tucker’s immediate expulsion and accused Tucker of supporting “terrorism”.

These same organisations have called for the Palestine solidarity encampments across Australian universities to be shut down.

The UN General Assembly endorsed the right for national liberation movements to employ “all available means, including armed struggle” in resisting colonial domination, in Resolution 45/130 in 1990.

“ANU has taken an unprecedented and dangerous step in trying to smother free speech on campus,” said Finnian Colwell, a member of Students and Staff Against War ANU.

“The ANU would rather punish students for repeating what they have learnt in its international law courses, that armed resistance is a legal human right for oppressed nationalities, than divest more than $1 million invested in eight arms companies with links to Israel.

“The International Criminal Court prosecutor has requested arrest warrants for Israeli leaders, saying they have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. The International Court of Justice has said there is a plausible case Israel is committing genocide and ordered Israel to stop bombing Rafah.

“ANU is complicit in genocide. It must drop all disciplinary action against students and cut its Northrop Grumman internship, end its exchange program with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and end all links with the Australian Signals Directorate, which helps run Pine Gap.

Record profits

Elise Chua, a member of Students and Staff Against War ANU, said, “It’s an unprecedented, severe punishment to students exercising their academic freedom.

“What Tucker said is in line with the Palestinians’ internationally-recognised right to resist, under UN law. The ANU since 7 October has continued to buy shares in these arms companies with record profits.

“They foresee that they’ll be able to increase their portfolio if they choose to fund and invest in genocide. That’s what’s shameful here, and not a student expressing their political opinion.”

Students and Staff Against War ANU will be holding a rally this Friday, 7 June, at 2pm outside the ANU Chancelry to protest against the expulsion. Speakers will include a Jewish student and representatives from the Canberra Muslim community and ANU Students and Staff Against War.

“The rally is the first step in showing that students, staff and the wider community actually won’t accept this attempt to restrict academic freedom and the victimisation of a student for expressing a pro-Palestine opinion,” said Chua.

The rally will be demanding (i) drop all disciplinary action against pro-Palestinian students and (ii) for ANU to cut all ties with Israel. 

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