Date(s) - Saturday, Sep 26
11:00 pm - 11:30 pm
UPHOLDING THE RIGHT TO PROTEST DURING THE PANDEMIC
An event co-hosted by Refugee Action Collective, Justice for David Dungay campaign, and Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS)
Paul Silva – nephew of David Dungay Jnr, and an organiser of banned July 28 “I can’t breathe” protest in NSW
Sam Gibbard – president of RMIT NTEU, and an organiser of bike and car convoy protest against job cuts
Dr Maria O’Sullivan – Senior Law Lecturer at Monash Uni and a member of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law.
Chris Breen – Refugee Action Collective activist charged with incitement for car convoy protest
About the Event:
Covid-19 has been used as a pretext for clamping down on the democratic right to protest. Refugee and Black Lives Matter protests have been banned in NSW and QLD despite no community transmission of Covid-19 at the time. In Melbourne, refugee supporters, unionists and Black Lives Matter organisers have received massive fines for protests. Chris Breen, a Refugee Action Collective activist, has been charged with “incitement” for a safe car convoy protest, drawing attention to the risk of Covid-19 to indefinitely detained refugees.
As MALS has said: “The charge of Incitement is a repressive tool that could easily be used pre-emptively against any protest organisers where police think a crime ‘might’ be committed. That’s a huge concern.” The charge has now been used retrospectively against an activist involved in the protest against the 2019 IMARC conference, as well as against anti-lockdown conspiracy protesters.
While preventing Covid-19 continues to be a primary concern for society, protest can play an important role in protecting public health. Crushing dissent leaves us at the whims of government and makes it harder to fight for justice for Aboriginal people, refugee rights, for workplace rights or for improvements to public health, like pandemic-leave for all.
Join the discussion on why we need protest, what Covid-safe protest can look like, and how can we uphold the right to protest during the pandemic.