Anti-vaccine protestors stormed a public propaganda seminar on immunisations in Perth, Australia on Monday night, causing the event to close early.
Organisers of the Telethon Kids Institute stopped their question and answer session after protestors stormed the building, attempting to raise awareness on the dangers of vaccines.
The seminar was held in order to persuade parents that vaccines are safe, which the anti-vaccine activists say gave a very one-sided view of the vaccine debate.
Yahoo News reports:
Professor Carapetis said yesterday he was shocked and disappointed by their behaviour, which he described as disrespectful and intimidating.
“We knew there would be people from the anti-vaccine lobby because we’ve had them before, but this was a very orchestrated way for them to completely disrupt the meeting,” he said. “We wanted to be able to put up the evidence and answer people’s questions honestly but we didn’t get a chance.
“These people represent a tiny proportion of the population who are anti-vaccine but they use any public forum to push their message and drown out everyone else.”
Professor Carapetis said only two people had the chance to ask legitimate questions and everything else was drowned out. “We went on for as long as we could, which was about half an hour of them yelling and screaming, but speakers were paid such disrespect and everyone else in the audience was intimidated,” he said.
“We had a school group of about 15 or 20 kids in the audience who are studying infectious diseases and they said they were intimidated.”
Professor Carapetis said he was devastated that one protester misused comments by Professor Fiona Stanley, the institute’s former director, to try to support an anti-vaccine stance.
One of the main protesters, Shawn Dhu, who filmed the Q&A session as he heckled the speakers, said he wanted the world to “wake up” about vaccines.
Professor Carapetis said the institute would rethink about future events but would not stop providing honest information to the public.
“They want us to go back into our shells,” he said.
“And that definitely won’t happen.”