Media Statement: Police Response to Anti-Genocide Protests in Sydney

We are witnessing the largest Anti-War protest movement in Australia since the Vietnam War in response to the genocide occurring in Palestine.

The Council are aware that New South Wales police have arrested three protestors on Saturday 23 March 2024 at the Sydney protest, allegedly as a result of being unintentionally sprayed with drops of red dye as part of a “die in” at the front of the march.

We are also aware that New South Wales police arrested approximately seventeen protestors at the Port Botany protest late last night on Sunday 24 March 2024 and Legal Observers New South Wales are reporting that several police officers were allegedly wearing an “Australian flag patch with a thin blue line through it” that has been associated with right wing extremism.


Comments from Lydia Shelly, President, NSW Council for Civil Liberties “It is day 171 of intentional starvation, mass displacement, the destruction of infrastructure and now
genocide in Gaza. Over 32, 000 Palestinians have lost their lives. Over the weekend at least twenty peaceful protestors were arrested for calling for stronger action from our government in support of Gaza.”

“Policing of protest in NSW is out of control. We have called on the Premier, the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner to meet with us to discuss concerns about police conduct towards peaceful protestors and legal observers. This includes to discuss increased surveillance and the abuse of bail conditions. So far, our requests have been denied”.

“We are extremely concerned that at the Port Botany protest, Legal Observers New South Wales observed several New South Wales police officers wearing a patch that is not part of the standard police issued uniform which has been associated with right wing extremism”.

“Protests, whether about Gaza, climate change, housing or any issue, will not stop and are likely to become more disruptive, unless Governments ensure that they listen to the voices of everyday Australians and stand up for human rights”.


“We cannot have a functioning democracy unless the right to protest is protected. The right to protest is not just a question of legality or morality, it is about power. A government with widespread support who stands up for human rights should not fear protests”.

“We call on the NSW Government and NSW Police to work with the community and civil society to ensure that the right to protest is protected. First, the anti-protest laws must be repealed”.

“We stand with trade unionists, activists and protestors who continue to exercise their democratic right to engage in protest.”