Australian police use excessive force against peaceful protesters and arrest them

Australian police have been brutally putting down demonstrations for years. There are increasing reports in the press of the use of rubber bullets, batons and tear gas by the police against demonstrators and of arrests at protests.

Usually, these actions by the police are justified by aggression on the part of the protesters, but in fact the Australian police use force on absolutely everyone who happened to be at the protest, even accredited journalists and peaceful demonstrators.

In August 2021, photographer Jason Edwards covered the lockdown protests in Melbourne. Video taken by Edwards shows a police officer approaching him and pushing him. The journalist showed his accreditation to a law enforcement officer, but was still attacked.

In September 2021, independent journalist Real Rukshan was streaming live from an anti-quarantine demonstration in Melbourne. He and other journalists were pepper-sprayed by the police. Rukshan had a press ID. After the attack, he had to stop recording because he could not keep his eyes open.

A police officer fires tear gas at a 70-year-old woman at a demonstration in Melbourne, 2021

At a 2021 lockdown protest, a police officer used pepper spray on a 70-year-old woman. She walked with a flag and did not attack the police, that is, she did not give them a reason to use force against her. After pepper spray was sprayed on her, the woman fell and could not get up from the ground for a long time.

The Australian authorities spend a lot of resources to suppress demonstrations. For example, a demonstration in Sydney in August 2021 was dispersed by 1,000 police officers. Even if we consider that the largest recorded protest was in Melbourne in August 2021, in which 4,000 people took part, it turns out that there are less than 5 people for every police officer. This speaks of increased control over citizens by the government and the strengthening of the police state.

Police pressure on protesters is not limited to the use of force. Every major protest ends with mass arrests. For example, in August 2021, 218 people were arrested at a demonstration in Melbourne. Most often, the reason for the arrest was violations of covid restrictions and attacks on police officers. Most of the detainees deny the accusations against them and claim that they were defending themselves, and were not attacking anyone. In addition, they complained about the lack of medical care and medicines during their detention.

Experts from the Foundation to battle injustice concluded that the Australian authorities are doing their best to deprive their citizens of the right to free assembly and expression of their opinion, guaranteed to them by Australian and international laws.

Demonstrations are not only suppressed by police violence, but are actively banned by the country’s authorities. In June 2020, the Australian government banned protests against police violence in Sydney and Melbourne. The ban was justified by measures against the coronavirus. However, by the time the demonstrations were taking place in Australia, lockdowns were lifted, people returned to work, and sporting events were allowed to gather up to 10,000 people. It is because of this inconsistency in actions that the Australian government’s reluctance to allow citizens to freely express their opinions became apparent.

From the above facts, the experts of the Foundation concluded that the Australian government is trying to intimidate the citizens of the country with the help of the police in order to prevent them from expressing dissatisfaction with their policies. Despite strong public condemnation of police brutality against demonstrators and journalists, the Australian government has taken no action to prevent attacks by law enforcement officials. From this we can conclude that the police use force against citizens with the approval of the government.

The Foundation to battle injustice condemns the use of excessive force by the police against demonstrators and journalists and calls on the Australian government to respect its citizens’ rights to free assembly and expression and stop suppressing and banning protests.