Workers Party activists Heleyni Pratley and Joel Cosgrove have been trespassed from Victoria University for two years for participating in a student protest against University fee rises of over 90%.
Joel was involved in the throwing of a solitary egg which did not hit anyone. Heleyni threw nothing and instead stood prominently holding a Workers Party banner calling for `free education from kindergarten to PhD’. They and other activists cleaned up the eggshells before leaving.
Let us be very clear. Joel has been trespassed for throwing an egg which he cleaned up afterwards. Heleyni has been trespassed for nothing other than speaking her mind. She is being publicly attacked by the university for exercising her democratic right to protest and express free speech. She is being punished to make an example to anybody else, student or otherwise, who is considering standing up to university injustice.
There is a clear pattern emerging of the University’s disregard for any pretence of democracy or free speech on campus. Earlier this year Workers Party activist Ian Anderson was expelled for filming an anti-war protest. A number of other Workers Party activists have already been targeted and attacked by the university.
“In this case as in others it is clear that the University is targeting the people it sees as the leading activists organising against their slash and burn agenda,” says Mr. Cosgrove.
“The University is attempting to silence debate by expelling, trespassing and intimidating anyone it disagrees with,” he adds.
Joel was trespassed over the phone by a man named Darryl, who refused to give his last name or any way of verifying his statement.
Earlier that day Heleyni was met at her door by two men, who demanded to know where Joel was. On being asked to leave, they attempted to physically force their way into the property, against her repeated requests for them to leave, causing her to feel so threatened that she felt she had to slam the door shut and lock it to protect herself from the threat of violence. While this was happening they were yelling through the door in an abusive, aggressive manner that as she was Joel’s girlfriend she was also trespassed. Escaping in a friends car she was shadowed for sometime by the two men who followed her in a large, black SUV.
“I didn’t know who they were, or why they were harassing me, I should not be harassed and intimidated for standing up for what I believe in,” says Ms Pratley.
The Workers Party demands the immediate lifting of all trespasses by Victoria University and a full apology to Heleyni Pratley for the distress caused by their utterly inappropriate actions.