Australia claims to have some of the toughest border security measures on earth, courtesy of a war on asylum seekers that we’ve been waging for well over a decade.
But it seems we don’t always get to decide ‘who comes here and the circumstances under which they come’.
Earlier today, a group of First Nations youth returning from a tour of Aboriginal communities in Canada successfully entered the country using their Aboriginal passports.
Nganyaywana man Callum Clayton-Dixon, Gamilaraay man Boe Spearim, Gunnai woman Meriki Onus and Goenpul woman Pekeri Ruska spent a month visiting First Nations communities across Canada as part of a delegation of the Aboriginal Provisional Government (APG).
The APG has been around since the early 90s and is spearheaded by Tasmanian lawyer Michael Mansell, with representatives and offices across the nation. It issues Aboriginal passports “as part of its policy of acting sovereignty”.
“The act of presenting an Aboriginal passport to airports in other countries and when re-entering Australia shows you are committed to the principle that the Aboriginal nation is a separate nation from the Australian nation, and that Aboriginal people have inherent independent rights, including having a separate passport,” Mr Mansell says on the APG website.
Mr Clayton-Dixon and Mr Spearim entered Brisbane international airport on Aboriginal passports at 11:15 am this morning, although they were first held up for 15 minutes of questioning by customs officers.
Ms Ruska was hassled for 25 minutes in Melbourne when she arrived last night, but was eventually let through on her Aboriginal passport.
The passports weren’t stamped, but the youth activists were let through without having to produce official Australian documentation.
Mr Clayton-Dixon told New Matilda the customs officers were perplexed at the passports, but that “these are the documents for Aboriginal people returning to our own country”.
He cited the case of Mohawk man Kenneth Dear, who regularly travels overseas on a Haudenosaunee passport, which have been around since 1977 and are used by the Haudenosaunee confederacy, made up of six tribal nations – the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onandagas, Cayugas, Senecas and the Tuscarora.
“It’s the same thing the Mohawk said when we went through the protocol – they are not Canadian, they have the right to political independence, they have the right to their own passport,” Mr Clayton-Dixon said.
“It’s exactly the same. We’re not Australian, we are Aboriginal people with our own tribal groups, and we have our own passports.”
To apply for an Aboriginal passport, you can visit the APG website at www.apg.org.au
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