Swinburne University Student Union president Damian Ridgwell this morning condemned a violent police attack on student protestors assembled in the intersection of Swanston and Flinders Streets. The students had been peacefully protesting on Sunday afternoon and into the night against a recent upsurge in violence against Indian students in Melbourne.
“Thousands of students rallied yesterday, responding to a series of vicious attacks on Indian international students” said Mr Ridgewell this morning. “Many thousands stayed peacefully in the intersection outside Flinders St Station until late into the night. They were addressed by Chief Commissioner Simon Overland, who failed to address the students’ concerns in any meaningful way.
“Then at about five am this morning, around a hundred police assembled and proceeded to violently attack the remaining protestors. The protestors were sitting on the ground with arms linked. Rather than prising the students loose, the police mounted a vicious assault. I witnessed police officers stomp on a student’s chest, other police officers repeatedly punched students in the face. A sitting protestor was knocked unconscious by repeated punches to the head by a policeman. At least one baton was drawn and used to smash a protestor’s legs, while the front row of students was threatened with capsicum spray.
“Already we know that one proster has been admitted to hospital who had their thumb broken during the police attack.
“Students were asking for nothing more than basic safety”, continued Mr Ridgwell. “We were asking for staff on trains, more residential accomodation on campus, a community education program to challenge the racism that international students face. Instead of having their legitimate demands addressed, students have been treated to yet another brutal assault -- this time from Victoria police.”
Mr Ridgwell called on trade unions and others in the community to rally behind the Indian students. “Politicians have been stirring up racism against refugees, Muslims and Aboriginal people for years. Now Indian students are paying the price. This is the time to take a public stand against the scourge of racism.”
For comment phone Damian Ridgwell on 0408 369 182