Organisers of simultaneous protests in Sydney and Melbourne this afternoon are hoping thousands will turn out to march against the forced closures of Aboriginal communities in Western Australia.
The events will also provide an opportunity for Aboriginal demonstrators to denounce their association with the Commonwealth of Australia.
Aunty Jenny Munro, who has been leading efforts to stop the commercial development of Redfern’s iconic ‘Block’, said that government moves to shut down remote communities in Western Australia are a continuation of a history of dispossession and cultural genocide for Aboriginal peoples.
“Government’s policies have never changed in relation to our people,” she said.
“This racist treatment and behaviour by this government and every illegal government that was ever elected or put in place in this country has got to stop.”
Aunty Jenny will speak at the Sydney rally, which kicks off at 5.30pm at Belmore Park, near Central Station.
Barbara Shaw, an Aboriginal activist from the Alice Springs town camps, long-time activist Graham Merritt, Murri poet Ken Canning and Rebel Hanlon and Assistant Secretary of NSW CFMEU, will also speak at the rally.
“This is about the community being made aware about the truth of what goes on in this country,” Aunty Jenny told New Matilda.
“Its the wider community and the supporters out there that carry the bulk of this message to the rest of the country.
“You know, Australia is known as the country of a ‘fair go’ – a place where everybody is supposed to be treated the same. But that’s as far from the truth as can be told.
“We have to stop dressing up lies as truth all the time, because that’s what this government does.”
At the demonstrations, first peoples will be invited to sign a proclamation of their sovereignty.
“In 1788, our Lands had come under Invasion from an alien force, namely the British Empire,” the proclamation reads.
“Since this Invasion, there has never been a ceding of sovereign rights over our root titles, such as, people, lands and waters, by way of treaty, negotiation or consultation.”
Until such a time as negotiations “in regards to the manner in which both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people continue to co-habit and co-exist on this sacred continent” the First Nations people who sign the declaration will denounce their association with the Commonwealth.
The rallies look set to attract large crowds. On Facebook, 16,000 people are listed as attending the Melbourne rally, which will be held at 4pm on the steps of Flinders St Station, while 5,000 have said they will attend the Sydney march.
“If we want to survive into the centuries to come, changes have to be made now – drastic changes – and that goes for everything from climate change to how we engage with each other on a daily basis,” Aunty Jenny said.
She said Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s dismissal of Aboriginal people living on country in Western Australia as a ‘lifestyle choice’ was “ridiculously racist” and showed he had no understanding of Aboriginal people.
“This ‘lifestyle’ he talks about has been our way of life for thousands… of years,” she said.
“He’s very ill-informed for someone who is the ‘Prime Minister for Aboriginal affairs’,” she said.
“What we’re trying to do is use this as a call to arms for all people that see wrong and want to do something to right that wrong,” Aunty Jenny said.
“It’s an assertion and confirmation of our position – it always was and always will be Aboriginal land,” she said.
“Our people have never ceded sovereignty.”
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