- Samantha SantosSydney University Venues Management
- Michael SpenceVice Chancellor, Sydney University
Sydney University: Let Ali Abunimah speak!
Only two days after our petition to have a visa issued for Ali Abunimah to speak in Australia, Sydney University has cancelled the venue booking for his speech in Sydney.
The venue was booked a full month in advance of the event. Sydney University venues management issued an invoice for the booking for $198 which was paid 2 weeks before the event.
When we submitted the forms for the booking we were told that "Everything should be fine" for the booking. We were also informed "In the case that you event is rejected, or amendments are requested, a reason will be given."
Venues management has not requested any amendments to our booking, and given no reason for the cancellation.
Ali Abunimah has spoken at many university campuses in the past, including the University of Chicago, University of Colorado, Princeton University and many others.
The decision reeks of political bias. Sydney University has hosted speakers on campus that have vocally supported Israel's war crimes. Colonel Richard Kemp spoke on campus last year to support Israel's 2014 assault on Gaza, which left 2,310 people dead, at least 1,617 of whom were civilians. Yet pro Palestinian voices are silenced.
Cancelling the booking is tantamount to political censorship. We demand that Sydney University allow Palestinian voices to be heard on campus, we demand that the booking be reissued immediately.
- Sydney University Venues Management
- Vice Chancellor, Sydney University
I am outraged by your decision to cancel the booking for the speech by Ali Abunimah on the 21st of March. Cancelling the booking is tantamount to denying freedom of speech on the campus. Ali Abunimah is a respected journalist and author, who has spoken on many university campuses in the past.
Sydney University has in the past allowed bookings for speakers who were specifically defending the Israeli military's killing of 1,600 civilians in the 2014 war on The Gaza Strip, the decision to ban a pro-Palestinian speaker reeks of political bias.
Universities are supposed to be places of critical thought and inquiry, learning and the free discussion of ideas. Yet by banning this forum it says that there is no freedom of speech on this campus.
We demand that you reinstate the booking immediately.
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