Protesters invade tennis final

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 01 Februari 2015 | 23.08

Police and security remove protesters from Rod Laver Arena. Picture: Mark Stewart Source: News Corp Australia

PROTESTERS have sparked a major security alert after bursting onto court at the Australian Open, interrupting play and forcing police and security into action during the men's final.

A group of activists calling for the Manus Island detention centre to be closed were interviewed by police and evicted from Melbourne Park.

Security officers circled tennis stars Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic when members of the group managed to enter the playing area on Rod Laver Arena during the second set.

Andy Murray surrounded by security as protesters disrupt the 2nd set. 19th January 2015. Pic: Michael Klein Source: News Corp Australia

It is believed two protesters entered the court.

One protester was stopped by security and carried off the arena.

Picture: Wayne Ludbey Source: News Corp Australia

The protest — with police and security on high alert due to heightened terror fears in the wake of the Lindt cafe siege in Sydney — forced the temporary suspension of play while the offenders were apprehended.

The protesters unfurled a banner in the stands demanding refugees be freed from the offshore detention and processing centre.

Several protesters interviewed by police wore white T-shirts emblazoned with the mottos ''Australia Open refugees'' and ''Shut down Manus''.

Picture:Wayne Ludbey Source: News Corp Australia

In statement to media, the group "Australia Open for Refugees" said they were acting in solidarity with refugees who have been protesting in detention on Manus Island.

Karoline Morwitzer said: "We have created this international media spectacle today to expose the torture, abuse, and horrific conditions that are being perpetrated on Manus Island. We will not be silent."

"We are drawing a line with this issue, If we allow this to happen, there is no end to what the government is capable of."

Other refugee support groups have claimed in recent weeks that up to 900 of Manus Islands asylum seekers have been participating in hunger strikes, with numerous reports of self harm and suicide attempts.

Police and security remove protesters from Rod Laver Arena. Picture: Mark Stewart Source: News Corp Australia

Australian Open chiefs last night condemned the behaviour and said substantial fines and penalties would be explored.

Several VIP's and celebrities were in the crowd including Premier Daniel Andrews, tennis legends Rod Laver and Margaret Court, Hollywood stars Eric Bana and Toni Collette and footy great Leigh Matthews.

Six members of the group were interviewed by police outside the stadium and had their bags searched.

Several protesters were evicted from front row seats.

Australian Open Tennis Mens Final. Source: News Corp Australia

The crowd of about 15,000 fans booed loudly when the protesters tried to ruin their night at the tennis.

World No. 1 Djokovic was up a set and a break when the security breach occurred.

Originally published as Protesters invade tennis final

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