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John Passant

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April 2009



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ALP controlled Monash Student Association fines Arab activist $340

The ALP controlled Monash Student Association has fined its education officer for being active in the Students for Palestine group. 

Even in 1985 and 1986 when my wife and I helped build a mass student campaign against library closures and set up an anti-apartheid group on campus, the MSA was a strong supporter of dissent and those fighting for justice.

Apparently, under ALP control, those days are over for the once politically proud MSA.

This is the statement by Omar Hassan, the Education Officer of Monash Student Association, in response to his fine.

As the Education (Public Affairs) officer in the student union, I have been able to play an important role in Students for Palestine group here at Monash, providing it with much-needed resources and support as a paid student representative.

After receiving complaints from the university administration, the president of the Student Union, Julian Campbell, has decided that this has to stop. Far from supporting the largest and most vibrant campaign on campus, Mr. Campbell has decided that it is “unconstitutional” for me to publicly associate myself with Students for Palestine.

Not content with undermining my involvement in the campaign in this way, Mr. Campbell and his allies in the Labor Party have voted to suspend my pay for 2 weeks.

Why have they done this? Because I committed the crime of condemning the slaughter of over 1500 Palestinians in just 3 weeks. Because we dare to fight for a just end to the occupation of Palestinian territory.

Because I had the temerity to believe that my student union can and should take a stand on this issue, even when it faces opposition from reactionary organisations.

As pointed out by a law student involved in the group, the constitutional argument presented by Mr. Campbell is a complete furphy – nobody was able to articulate a legal case against me in the meeting.

Anyway it has always been the role of the education department to run these sorts of political campaigns. In recent history the department has run the Refugee Action Collective and in 2006 printed stickers with the slogan “support the war on terror, bomb the white house” – clearly the union has no issue with controversy.

What is actually behind this decision is the fact that the student union is led by members of the Labor party, an organisation that prides itself on unswerving support for the state of Israel. They plead neutrality, but in attempting to silence me they are taking a clear side – they side with the oppressor.

As the international movement against Israel continues to grow in the coming years, we should remember this incident, a moment when the Labor Students decided that fighting against injustice should be punished, that campaigning against war somehow contravenes the constitution – and is worthy of a 340 dollar fine.

In the meantime neither Students for Palestine nor I will be silenced. The group at Monash has already had tremendous success with a massive opening ceremony attracting over 200 students, and this is just the beginning.

In Solidarity,

Omar Hassan
Education Officer
Monash Student Association




Comment from Govinda Raj
Time April 1, 2009 at 7:43 am

Maybe you should join a pro Chinese group (mainland China) and advocate selling Australia to them as Hawke the other trendy is now joining Rudd in doing.

In doing so you will fall into line with the trendy ALP candidates that have neither morals nor the ability to deal with important issues fairly. They have no policies nor have they any ideas of their own.

Kevin Rudd is no great leader. He is popular and nothing more than that proverbial “drovers dog” that won the unloosable elections of 2007.

He won because we had such a bad government previously that anything that came along that was anti Howard would suffice. He did.

Comment from juan
Time April 1, 2009 at 8:21 am

Here, here Omar. What’s happening to our ‘democracy’?

Comment from frank luff
Time April 2, 2009 at 11:53 am

Govinda Raj
Maybe if your name had been “Smith”or Styne I would better understand?
If standing for a principal is a crime, what crime would you hold me to?

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