Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rallies demand justice for Mr Ward

Alex Bainbridge & Annolies Truman, Perth 20 June 2009

In the wake of the inquest into the shocking death in custody of Aboriginal elder Mr Ward, more than 1000 people rallied in Perth in rainy weather on June 20. Ward was roasted in a prison van on a four-hour journey on a 42ÂșC day.

The rally was widely supported by members of local Aboriginal communities, union leaders, Green parliamentarians, and progressive campaigners.

Teddy Biljabu, representing Ward’s family, expressed relief that so many white people were in attendance, which showed the family is not alone. He said the family would continue fighting for justice until the systematic racism that led to Ward’s death was fixed.

Associate professor Ted Wilkes said this was more than just a death in custody issue. It was a broader issue of injustice and racism. The “gap” in life expectancy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians is greater in WA than the national average.

Marianne MacKay got a rousing cheer when she called for programs to help keep Aboriginal people out of jail.

Other rallies took place across the country to mark the second anniversary of the announcement of the racist intervention into Northern Territory Aboriginal communities. They also acknowledged that the attacks on Aboriginal people are not restricted to the NT.

MORE on this article

Racism Kills: Demand justice for Mr Ward

One lesson of an awful death: No to prison privatisation