July 19, 2024

The Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) is calling for increased protection of Australian war memorials after several sites were vandalised in recent weeks.

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra was graffitied with pro-Palestinian slogans on June 14, with vandals most recently targeting the Korean War, Vietnam War, and Australian Army monuments over the weekend.

Such slogans spray-painted on the sites read, “In 100 years do you want there to be a Gaza memorial?” and “From the river to the sea”.

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RSL National President Greg Melick said Australia’s war memorials were sacred sites honouring fallen soldiers and had no relation to the conflict in Gaza. 

“The Australian Government can and should lead the push by developing an education and respect program, by increasing security at our national memorials in Canberra,” Melick said.

“The veteran community is angry, and the Australian public is sickened by the actions of these vandals, who somehow want to blame those who have died or suffered protecting our nation for a conflict in Gaza that, in reality, Australia has little or no influence, impact or responsibility.”

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Melick called for those found vandalising such sites “to receive the strongest possible penalties”.

”People are entitled to protest. It is a right for which our veterans fought to protect,” he said.

“But this right must be exercised responsibly, and the disrespect and defilement of memorials to those who served, suffered or died in the service of the Australian nation must be deplored.”

The RSL is asking for increased security at memorials, maximum penalties and the establishment of a program to educate people about the meaning behind the monuments.

“The RSL is prepared to play a role in the development of this program and to emphasise that War Memorials and Cenotaphs are not platforms for disrespect and protest,” he said.

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