“Aboriginal people want to talk about many issues, including economic development, sovereignty, land rights and treaty. These may be uncomfortable issues for the Australian people, but they are issues that must be resolved, sooner rather than later.”
Genocide is not just wiping people out in concentration camps, or forcing them to assimilate.
It is also stealing their land so they can no longer exist as a people, Tony. Dispossession is genocide. And that is what the Northern Territory intervention is about, tony. Driving aboriginal people off their land. That’s happening too in the major mining areas of Australia.
Protesting against politicians who rudely and publicly suggest to Aboriginal Australians that they might abandon one of the means of their ongoing struggle – the 40 year old Tent Embassy – seems unacceptable to white colonial Australians and their housies who demand politeness from those whom they oppress. At the Lobby restaurant, protesters from the Tent Embassy were angered by Tony Abbott’s comment made earlier in the day that it was “probably time to move on from that”. In the context of Invasion and Survival Day, nationalist white colonial chest-thumping and four year long criminalNorthern Territory Intervention whereby basic human rights of Aboriginal Australians are withdrawn, Abbott’s comment predictably was regarded as offensive.
Mr Anderson said the comments were disrespectful.
“He said the Aboriginal embassy had to go; we heard it on a radio broadcast,” he said.
“We thought no way, so we circled around the building.”
He said the protesters wanted the leaders to clarify their position and whether Mr Abbott was serious about removing the embassy.
“You’ve got 1,000 people here peacefully protesting, and to make a statement about tearing down the embassy – it’s just madness on the part of Tony Abbott.
A contingent of about 100 protesters made their way up the road to The Lobby and surrounded it. Though they were loud and noisy they were non-violent. Security blocked the protesters from getting close to the restaurant for a while but it didn’t take long for a few protesters to break the line and soon the rest had gotten close up against the restaurant’s walls. As the walls of The Lobby are made of glass the protesters could look in and see Mr Abbott and the others pretending not to hear them and, after about ten or fifteen minutes Julia Gillard’s white jacket was recognised and the protesters realised that she was in there along with Mr Abbott.
The aim of the protest had been to get Mr. Abbott to come out and talk to the crowd – now it wanted to get Ms. Gillard to come out and do the same as well. Yet they continued to ignore the protesters, drink champagne and take photos of one another while their constituents tried to get their attention.
A short time later a contingent of riot police and protective service officers arrived at the restaurant. All up there were about 50 to 60 officers there and protesters watched on as a group of about 20 riot police hurtled past them in V-formation, bursting into the restaurant and then locking themselves inside.
When I spoke to Sam she said that the protesters thought the riot police were arranging to form a sort of guard around the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader so that they could come out and talk to the crowd but, as the rest of the media has shown, the riot police’s real objective was to ‘escort’ the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader to their cars.
As more protesters made their way to the restaurant, the riot police charged out the doors, practically dragging Ms Gillard along, while the onlookers began to shout “where are you going?” and “why won’t you talk to us?” As the cars drove off, some people threw plastic water bottles and water at the cars.
At this point things began to get fairly nasty; one protester was knocked into the rose bushes and one gigantic cop started brandishing a can of tear gas or capsicum spray (reports differ on this point) in people’s faces and shoved Sam, another girl and a female photo-journalist in the head. When Sam told him to calm down he reportedly bared his teeth and grinned so widely his eyes nearly popped out of his head; to many on site it was fairly clear that the officer was barely under control.
Then the police began to link arms to form a line against the protesters and the protesters followed suit, ending up with a Mexican standoff. Some of the Indigenous Elders called for the protesters to return to the Tent Embassy but a female Elder began a non-violent sit-down protest in the road just down from the café and soon a line of Indigenous women, female Elders and non-Indigenous women had been formed across the road.
The women declared that they were not going to be intimidated by the police and that they would not move until the police stood down. While some of the other protesters returned to the Tent Embassy, a large group (including some of the Occupy Melbourne contingent) remained to watch on and support their fellow activists until the police eventually gave in and stood down.
As the remaining protesters made their way back to the Tent Embassy they were greeted by applause and the female protesters went through a cleansing smoke ceremony.
Several eye witnesses in the report above confirm there was no violence amongst the protesters, and it was the police who were violent. The white colonial Gubbahs have failed to sanction their own, instead blaming the protesters.
The cops reacted as they always do when confronted by angry Aboriginal people.
The riot squad and the Prime Minister’s protection unit brutalised the crowd to clear a path for Gillard and Abbott, the two politicians of the Northern Territory invasion, the two politicians of hate, the two politicians of dispossession, the two politicians of aboriginal genocide.
Why is non-violence never expected of settler colonial oppressors?
‘Aboriginal Australians have been no different from the Palestinians in fighting back against ethnic cleansing and settler-colonisation. Our people actually carried out an extensive armed resistance to European settler colonialism. This resistance began the moment Cook set foot on Australian soil in 1770 – the Gweagal people attacked Cook’s landing party with spears and woomeras. From that moment on Aboriginal resistance never ceased.
Prior to Invasion Day 2012, Michael Anderson, the “last survivor of the four young Black Power men who set up the Aboriginal Embassy in 1972” said he had “received intelligence that there is a move to destroy him personally and the Aboriginal sovereignty movement in which he plays a large role”.
Recently, during a visit by my mother and sister to Goodooga, my mother warned me that I need to be very well protected, because the government will find Aboriginal people to cause disruption to the sovereignty movement and threaten my life.
I have a very good idea of where the trouble will come from, as police intelligence is aware of the threat to my life and the sovereignty movement and that the people involved will commence a campaign to first character assassinate me to win support to reject me, thereby nullifying the sovereignty movement, by creating enormous divisions; which would permit the Australian government to say publically: Aborigines will never come together as a united body to fight for their sovereign status.
Paul Coe, spokesperson for the First Nations Parliament, an organisation which has been re-established as a result of the anniversary celebrations, said Embassy activists were disgusted at the behavior of police.
“We’re appalled at the violence we saw today directed against the Prime Minister, and the tactics police employed to try and intimidate members of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, who were peacefully protesting at a family gathering.
“There was no need for that number of police to be there, or to have that level of menace or intimidation.
“They overreacted without assessing whether or not there was any risk to the Prime Minister. The only violence came from police.
“There was no risk to the Prime Minister of Australia. No-one here would have hurt the Prime Minister. Even the Opposition leader was safe.
“I’d remind the Prime Minister and the Opposition leader that in 1972 the then leader of the Opposition Gough Whitlam and the late Lionel Murphy came and met with us in the tents. They never felt threatened.
“We wish to return the shoe to her as a gesture of friendship and in the spirit of cooperation. We hope she will turn up here tomorrow to accept it in the same spirit.
“It’s to show we mean no harm and will not tolerate any threats or intimidation against the Prime Minister of Australia.
“I am appalled that the Prime Minister felt intimidated or threatened in any way because the Prime Minister of Australia should not have to endure or tolerate any of those kinds of behavior directed at her, be it from police or anyone else.
“The shoe is now a symbol of trust between two nations of people.”
Mr Coe said the First Nations Parliament would be established with a year.
“We’re sending letters out to our lawmen and women asking them to meet with First Nations to convene our parliament and to draft our constitution.”
The organisation came about after meetings at the Tent Embassy celebrations.
“We have re-asserted our First Nation sovereign rights through the re-establishment of the First Nations Parliament (the AP was first formed in 1972),” Mr Coe said.
Julia may have lost a shoe, but Tony lost everything, with his fearful, racist paternalism exposed.
Michael Anderson may not have been too far off the mark, considering the tenor of today’s Australian Editorial, extolling colonial-friendly Aboriginal ‘leaders’ and minimising present Indigenous disadvantage and demands. The editorial censuriously accuses protesters of bullying while tutting about free speech, which the protesters were exercising:
“In short, as Mr Abbott suggested, events have moved beyond the grievances of the tent embassy. The former Labor premier of NSW, Bob Carr, wrote bluntly yesterday that it should be “packed up”. Brave and sensible indigenous leaders such as Warren Mundine and Mick Gooda have observed how the protest has been a blow against free speech. The bullying antics are aimed at silencing opponents. Even if someone had called for the tent embassy to be “torn down”, they should not be met with intimidation. “
Thus do the rightwing appropriate righteous victimhood. The Australian editor bleats blithely onward:
“As Meryl Tankard Reist, Ian Plimer or even Andrew Bolt can attest, the modern illiberal Left seems to care little for free speech unless that speech echoes their views. This is a disturbing tendency that The Weekend Australian will always seek to expose and counter. If Australia Day is to mean anything, we must embrace open minds, free speech and common sense. “
Mr Anderson said the Tent Embassy would pursue a legal challenge against the British Government.
He said the embassy had lawyers in London who would take their concerns to the European Court of Human Rights and possibly the International Court of Justice.
”England still has some residual obligation in Australia.
”So what we’re doing now is we’re investigating the legal ramifications of that 1875 Act which recognises when Queen Victoria said she did not claim sovereignty or dominion over Aboriginal lands of this country and the people.
”Our objective is to go after England because they failed to implement their law in this country.”
Mr Anderson said he had been advised that the Tent Embassy had the capacity to sue the British Government in the court system.
They rushed a nearby restaurant upon hearing Mr Abbott was inside.
Earlier, radio presenter Ray Hadley reported a staffer to Ms Gillard had rung Aboriginal tent embassy protester Barbara Shaw, or another protester, that Mr Abbott had called for the embassy to be torn down.
“Once she was told that, she was also told Mr Abbott was across the road (and) ‘maybe you can give them a bit of a liven up’,” the 2GB presenter told his audience.
The statement from Ms Gillard’s office did not address the allegation that Mr Hodges sought to inform tent embassy activists of Mr Abbott’s alleged comments.
Mr Abbott earlier declared he’d been “verballed”, saying he had not said the tent embassy should be removed.
“I never said that and I don’t think that,” he said.
“I made the point that a lot has happened in 40 years and I think that we have moved on from the issues of 40 years ago which caused the Aboriginal tent embassy to be set up.”
Ms Shaw, who told the protesters Mr Abbott wanted the tent embassy disbanded, said she heard of Mr Abbott’s comments from “a fly on the wall”.
After Ms Gillard was bundled into a waiting car and whisked away, a protester displayed one of Ms Gillard’s blue high-heel shoes, which had fallen off during her hasty exit, and shouted: ”Gingerella, come get your shoe!”
The protest was not violent. It was certainly rowdy and confronting. The protesters chanted loudly and angrily, and some beat time on the glass walls of the restaurant. There was some pushing and shoving as the VIP cars finally moved out. Police on the day said there were “scuffles” and no arrests would be made.
You know there has never been any compensation, nor has the legal situation fundamentally changed. The contemptuous white attitude of the past persists today in the intervention in the Northern Territory, which was imposed by Tony Abbott’s party and continued by the Prime Minister’s party.
The intervention blatantly belies Abbott’s and Gillard’s claims that things are better than 40 years ago and that most Australians have respect for Indigenous people. Respect would involve looking together for a way forward, not draconian and racist income management and displacement from traditional country.
After visiting Palestine in 1897, two rabbis from Vienna reported that “The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man”, and so Northern European zionists realised they would have to conjure up ‘plausible’ reasons to justify genociding and expelling indigenous Palestinians, acquiring their land to establish the racist ethnosupremacy of Israel. For Herzl and other early zionists, the ‘Jewish question’ could be solved with Jewish nationalism, as they held the essentialist antisemitic belief that Jews carried antisemitism wherever they went. Racism and bigotry however must be countered and nullified wherever they exist. In order to assert its legitimacy, Zionist ideology has incorporated many cognitively dissonant memes and myths, including the direct denial, in keeping with other settler colonial land-thieving projects in Australia (“terra nullius”) and the US (“the Promised Land”), that there ever was a place called Palestine, or a Palestinian people.
Political zionism is manifestly expansionist and militarist – belligerent expansionism is the zionist elite’s strategy, tactic and aim. To obscure its crimes however, Israel projects the lie in its marketing endeavours that it is pursuing ‘peace negotiations’ earnestly, whilst simultaneously sabotaging peace and precluding the formation of a viable Palestinian state by stealing as much Palestinian land and building as many illegal zionist jews-only settlements on Palestinian land as possible, using the contradictory pretext of ‘defence and security’.
As it began, someone shouted Vive La Palestine (long live Palestine); when the delegates began to vote on the resolution to admit Palestine, the hall rang with loud and sustained cheers, as representatives of Austria, Russia, Brazil, India, China, South Africa and France indicated their country’s affirmative vote. The resolution was carried with 107 for, 14 against and 52 abstentions.
Reasonable people would think this is a wonderful triumph for the Palestinian quest for peace, the object of which is, after all, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. The two-state solution is supported not only by the Quartet (US, Russia, the EU, and the UN) — the sponsors of the peace process — but also by the parties themselves — Israel and Palestine.
Yet, the Obama administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Palestinian membership in UN agencies undermines the peace process. They, therefore, announced punitive retaliatory measures: Washington will punish Unesco by withholding its financial contributions to it. Israel will go further by withholding its financial contribution to Unesco; and by punishing the Palestinians. Netanyahu announced that his government will accelerate the construction of new colonies in occupied East Jerusalem — a policy that has been condemned by the UN, the EU, and even by Washington itself as lacking legitimacy and undermining the peace process.
There is something wrong here. Either the Palestinians, supported by the international community, are misguided and their quest for membership in UN agencies does undermine the peace process. Or the peace process is intellectually corrupt claiming to serve the cause of peace when in fact it is perpetuating conflict.
There have been many instances in which it is possible to say that the Palestinians have pursued misguided policies. In a recent interview on Israeli television Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas mentioned two such instances — the Palestinian refusal to accept the 1947 UN Resolution recommending the partition of Palestine and the 2000 second Palestinian intifada. The editors of Wall Street Journal, a leading supporter of the American-Israeli position on the Palestinian quest for UN membership, recently explained that the Palestinian move undermined the peace process because it alienated Israel.
This logic reverses the roles: The occupier is absolved of its obligations under international law, and the victim is burdened with the obligation not to alienate the occupier even in the face of oppression, dispossession and collective punishment. If alienating your interlocutor undermines the quest for peace, then the Palestinians — who experience daily alienation under Israeli occupation — can legitimately argue that the Israelis have destroyed the peace process.
Israel treats Palestinians and other non-Jews as second class citizens in Israel and denies any rights at all to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Despite the UN in 1948 requiring that its admission of Israel as a state was dependent upon Israel recognising Palestinian refugees’ right to return, Israel has still failed to fulfill its promise. Instead, this legal recognition is cast by pernicious zionist hasbara as tantamount to destroying Israel, and so, too, is the one state solution vilified.
As Martin Woollacott correctly observes in his review of Ghada Karmi’s book “Married to Another Man”, ‘The single-state argument is not the essence of the problem. The essence is a change in the nature of Zionism’. Deconstruction and dismantlement of the white supremacist ideology of zionism is essential if peace is to be achieved in the region. Until then, Israel will remain the useful tool of exploitative imperialists which British Prime Minister Campbell-Bannerman envisaged in 1907. Thus does empire employ racism as a divide and rule tactic to achieve its rapacious ends to monopolise the vast resources of the Middle East.
Supported by other settler colonial and imperial entities and regardless of the negative consequences on Israel’s legitimacy in the Middle East, Israel’s crimes against humanity and war crimes are minimised and shrugged off – for Israel, land and resource theft are of singularly paramount import and is even portrayed as of ‘benefit’ to the dispossessed. In settler colonial Australia too, the suspension of human rights under the Anti-Discrimination Act for Aboriginals in the Northern Territory for the horrific Intervention was justified on the grounds of ‘need’ and sold to the public as essential for the ‘good’ of Aboriginals, despite protest from Aboriginal groups and communities.
The zionist regime similarly fails to acknowledge the racist nature of its laws which deliver privilege to 80% of the population and discriminate deliberately through birth or religion against 20% of the population. The racist Knesset proceeds instead to pass even more such laws. Yet it can hardly be expected for racists to recognise racist laws – the disease of racism occludes perceptions which threaten its eradication. Israel obscures its apartheid ziocolonial practices through a prism of overweaning need. In fact, Israel has no intention of permitting a Palestinian state or relinquishing one metre of land it has already stolen, yet to bolster the perfidious legitimacy of its theft, pretends it is seeking to negotiate for a Palestinian state for which Palestinians must deliver ever more concessions to achieve. By this strategy, Israel and its cruel western sponsors cast the onus onto Palestinians to pursue ‘peace’ while Israel continues its oppression and illegal appropriation of more Palestinian land and resources.
The boot on the neck of the oppressed can hardly expect the oppressed to remain silent while the boot attempts to crush them. Boycott, divestment and sanctions have been called by Palestinian civil society to counter Israel’s rejection of Palestinians rights – and increasingly, people of conscience throughout the world are answering the call.
‘The Arab Spring has pushed Israel into a strategic trap from which it can extricate itself only through accommodation with the Palestinians. In the current political climate, Arab leaders, whether conservative or revolutionary, can no longer afford to be seen as complicit with Israel and the United States in the region. The Palestinian cause will now resonate louder than ever in the central squares of Cairo, Amman and Ankara.’
Statement by Northern Territory Elders and Community Representatives – No More! Enough is Enough!
Melbourne 4 November, 2011
United First People’s Law men and women who are born leaders representing people of Prescribed Areas in the Northern Territory make this statement. Once again, they have gathered to openly discuss the future of our generation who have been subjugated by the lies and innuendo of the Federal Government, set out in the Stronger Futures document (October 2011).
The Stronger Futures report has created a lot of anger and frustration due to the lack of process and the ignorant way in which the views of the people have been reported. We therefore reject this report.
We will not support an extension of the Intervention legislation. We did not ask for it. In fact we call for a genuine Apology from the Federal Government for the hurt, embarrassment, shame and stigma, and for the illegal removal of the Racial Discrimination Act. It is our intention to officially call upon Government for reparation.
The recent consultations report shows that Government has failed to take seriously our concerns and feelings. This report is simply a reflection of pre-determined policy decisions. This is shown clearly by the absence of any commitment to bilingual learning programmes as well as the proposal to introduce welfare cuts and fines to parent of non-attending school children. Once again a punitive policy that is neither in the best interests of the child or the family.
Blanket measures have been central to the Northern Territory Intervention and have been the source of much distress. Where there are problems, they must be addressed on a case by case basis and preferably with the assistance through the appropriate community channels.
Since August 2007 till 2011, more than 45,000 First Nations Peoples living in the Prescribed Areas were traumatised when a Bill was passed through both Houses of Parliament (The House of Representatives and the Senate).
This legislation suspended the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 to put in place the Northern Territory Emergency Response. The Australian Greens were the only party to oppose the legislation.
These actions have placed Australia in breach of its international treaty obligations to the First Nations Peoples. Respectful discussion and negotiation with community elders did not take place before the introduction of the Intervention.
Discussions on a diplomatic basis are essential. There are elders in every Aboriginal Nation invested by the authority of the majority. These are the people with whom Minister Macklin should be negotiating, rather than with the chosen few, as has been her habit.
There has NEVER been acquiescence in the taking of our lands by stealth. Aboriginal people are sovereign people of this Nation. The process that will lead to legal recognition of customary law should be immediately commenced.
We believe that there should be an honest and comprehensive treaty negotiation with the Australian Government and facilitated by the United Nations.
We have a right under international law to self determination and after almost five years of the oppression of the Intervention, we demand that Government hand back to us control over our communities and provide adequate Government, long-term funding to ensure the future of Homelands.
Community Councils have suffered from years of underfunding. The same is happening today with the Shires that have been imposed on us. There is a lack of funding for our Core Service.There is no capacity for Aboriginal communities to engage in long-term services planning without the certainty of long-term funding.
We have had enough! We need our independence to live our lives and plan our futures without the constant oppression and threats which have become central to the relationship between Government and Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. We will not support policies that have not been negotiates with all elders of Prescribed communities and we will not support an extension of the Intervention, or an Intervention under other names.
Since the Apology and since reconciliation, the level of incarceration of Aboriginal men has increased three-fold; our families are being punished for failure to attend a foreign school design; our capacity to govern our own lives has been totally disempowered; Aboriginal youth suicide rates in the Northern Territory are higher than anywhere else in Australia; and our people have been demonized, labelled and branded. This is not what an apology is and it is not reconciliation. These outcomes are the very opposite to their intent.
Australia is in breach of its international treaty obligations to the first nation’s people through it membership to the United Nations in the elimination of racial discrimination.
We as leaders of the Northern Territory acknowledge other peoples’ views. We acknowledge that some may agree and some may disagree with parts or all of the ‘intervention’; whatever the name the Government chooses to call it. The only right we now have left is to remain silent.
We as Aboriginal people call on the international community to hold Australia to account for its continuing crimes against humanity for its treatments of its first nation’s people. Again, we say to our visits by the Minister’s department; this is not consultation. Proper consultation is about listening and inviting and including the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Consultation is about outcomes that are progressive and agreeable to all parties.
The future is based on our children having a quality education, but to date this continues to be a systemic failure. A quality education for our people needs to include:
• Bilingualism in schools to be returned and strengthened to ensure our children learn their traditional languages, dialects and cultural knowledges.
• Attendances need to be rewarded, rather than children and families being punished for non-attendance.
• Aboriginal teachers in classrooms and school educational leadership roles are essential to building quality, localized schooling programs. This means also equal pay and entitlements, rewards and opportunities consistent with their important roles.
• Curriculum needs to change and reflect traditional knowledges not just for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, but importantly for the broader Australian population who know very little about their own first peoples.
• Aboriginal teachers need to be treated fairly and equally to their non-Aboriginal counterparts in delivering quality education to our children. This includes the opportunity to tell oral stories of Kinship, Creation Stories, and about important cultural knowledge and skills.
Failure to accept these views and work seriously toward their inclusion will simply mean more of the same.
Rev. Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra OAM
Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM