Thursday, June 10, 2010

Two chances to see Richard Downs in Perth

Richard Downs, respected Aboriginal activist and Alyawarr spokesperson for the intervention walkoff, will be visiting Perth later this month.

Richard will be speaking at two public events:
  • Public meeting: "The intervention walkoff and human rights in NT" (6 for 6:30pm Thurs 24 June at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies, Curtin University of Technology)
  • Socialist Ideas Conference: The struggle for Aboriginal rights today (9:30am, Sat 26 June at the State School Teachers Union function room, 150 Adelaide Terrace)
When John Pilger spoke alongside Richard in April, he said "When I first heard Downs speak ... I knew that an exciting new chapter in the struggle of Indigenous Australians had opened... The issues which the Gurindji brought to light — the denial of basic human rights, the lack of proper living and working conditions and the racism — are no different in principle from those described by Downs and other Alyawarr elders since their own historic walk-off in July last year."

Many people around Australia have already been inspired by the Alyawarr people's walk-off. On July 14, following a great tradition from Aboriginal struggles of the past century, they walked off their community and set up a protest camp.

Their community had been compulsorily "acquired" for five years by the federal government, through powers granted to it through the NT Emergency Response legislation (the NT intervention).

The welfare recipients of Ampilatwatja all had their income "quarantined" — half their income replaced with a "basics card" that can only buy specified things at specified shops. This even applies to the aged pensioners who worked hard all their life, for rations and a little cash, opening up the country so the pastoral industry could exploit it.

With their pensions now quarantined, the elders felt they'd been returned to the rations days.

In February this year, a group of trade unionists and Aboriginal rights activists from Victoria, New South Wales and the NT joined forces with the Alyawarr people from Ampilatwatja community to help make history by building a "protest house" in contrast to the federal governments tardy attitude to building the housing infrastructure in Aboriginal communities.

The public meeting is sponsored by Aboriginal Rights Coalition, Deaths in Custody Watch Committee & Amnesty International. The Socialist Ideas Conference is organised by Socialist Alliance.

More info about the NT protest house.

Read John Pilger's speech.

Intervention Walkoff Blog