Pro-Palestine protesters at ANU move campus camp by 50 metres ahead of noon deadline

<span>The pro-Palestine encampment at the Australian National University in Canberra was moved 50 metres ahead of a noon deadline to disband.</span><span>Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
The pro-Palestine encampment at the Australian National University in Canberra was moved 50 metres ahead of a noon deadline to disband.Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

Student protesters in Canberra have moved their pro-Palestine encampment to a new location after police demanded they pack up by noon on Tuesday.

Protesters at the Australian National University voted on Monday night to relocate their camp 50 metres down the road, saying they had engaged in good faith. But they condemned what they called “reckless and unjustifiable intimidation tactics” from the university.

The ANU dramatically escalated its response to the on-campus occupation on Monday, demanding protesters vacate their site at Kambri, in the centre of campus.

Police attended campus at the ANU’s request on Monday and warned students that failure to comply with university directions to leave the site by midday on Tuesday “may result in further action by ACT Policing”.

An ANU spokesperson said the university had ensured that protests were safe, appropriate and lawful.

Related: Pro-Palestine student protesters claim ‘major win’ as first Australian university agrees to meet some demands

“ANU has provided options for the protestors to continue their protests in ways that are respectful and safe for the entire university community,” the spokesperson said. “The university will continue to discuss these options with protestors.”

ACT police said officers remained in regular contact with ANU security and were monitoring developments with protesters. No arrests had been made in relation to the encampment.

ANU initially directed the encampment to move on Monday morning when the director of facilities and services, Jeremy Matthew, said the camp was in a fire evacuation zone, creating an “unacceptable risk” to staff and students.

“We’re committed to the safety of this campus,” the encampment spokesperson and ANU student Al, who preferred not to share their surname, said.

“We want to engage in good faith, on the fire evacuation or on our demands as a whole.”

Protesters called on supporters to rally on campus on Tuesday morning in support of the camp and said they planned to continue their campaign.

In response, ANU shut down businesses in the Kambri precinct, and blocked off public access to a number of buildings adjacent to the Kambri Lawns, including the Marie Reay teaching centre and Chifley library.

The ANU students’ association president, Phoenix O’Neill, told the rally the protest had been “disruptive, but peaceful”.

“The encampment has moved but the goal of making the university divest has absolutely not,” they said.

Students and a number of staff then marched down University Avenue past their new camp site before arriving at management offices.

Earlier on Monday ANU security ordered the remaining students entering their fourth week occupying the site to immediately disband.

Students rejected the demands, instead issuing a call-out for supporters and legal observers to reinforce numbers. In a video posted to social media, an organiser said a vote had been taken and the remaining protesters had decided to stay on at the Kambri site.

“The police have come and told us that we need to leave but we as a collective have decided we’re going to say,” they said. “We will not be moved, we will be staying in Kambri.”

From 8am to 3pm on Monday, police officers joined about two dozen members of campus security as protesters drummed on upturned buckets, chanting: “We are the students. We won’t be silenced. Cut the ties now, now, now, now.”

Related: ANU asks pro-Palestinian encampments to disband as students claim ‘witch-hunt’ taking place

The ANU spokesperson said: “No one has been told not to protest.”

The direction follows meetings with a small group of students who were advised to disband or risk breaching the university’s code of conduct.

Students refused, vowing they would not move until ANU disclosed and divested its ties to weapons manufacturers. Both the University of Melbourne and Curtin University have agreed, in part, to protesters’ demands while negotiating an end to encampments.

Camps at La Trobe and Deakin University have also been disbandedas university managements warn of disciplinary action.

On Monday afternoon, student protesters at Adelaide University and RMIT announced they would voluntarily pack up after four weeks, while adding they would continue to fight for the Palestinian cause.

Asked whether ANU would change its position, the spokesperson said all university investments were governed by its socially responsible investment policy.

“The university thanks our student body for drawing our attention to areas that we may need to now consider in 2024,” they said. “This includes expanding companies for review, along with emerging areas of research including artificial intelligence.

“The university has listened to this important feedback from its students and thanks them for it.”