Monday, March 5, 2012

Tent embassy: sovereignty on the agenda

Around fifty people attended a forum addressed by Michael Anderson at the Curtin Uni Aboriginal Studies Centre on March 5. Anderson is a Gamilaroi man, one of the original 4 founders of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972.

The forum was organised by the Nyoongah Tent Embassy and followed a well-attended address Anderson had given at the embassy two days beforehand.

Anderson argued that Aboriginal people had never given up their sovereignty - that there had never been a defeat in declared war, that the land hadn't been ceded, and that the British crown hadn't asserted sovereignty over Aboriginal people. He gave illustrations from case law, letters and legislation going back to colonial times, to indicate that Aboriginal people were not British subjects, nor were they considered such, and described recent legal efforts to have Australia's constitutional court examine whether or not Australian courts have jurisdiction over Aboriginal people.

Anderson invited Aboriginal people of WA to take part in the formation of an interim Aboriginal government of national unity, which so far includes representatives of more than 40 Aboriginal nations from eastern Australia. He described plans to seek to have Aboriginal people recognised as a non-self-governing people by the UN, as well as a raft of legal initiatives, including a writ of Mandamus to get the British parliament to protect Aboriginal sovereignty, genocide proceedings against Britain in the EU, and compensation and restitution claims with respect to mineral and petroleum exploitation.

His words were enthusiastically received, with a lot of agreement with his view that “it's not about the money” and the importance of not accepting the Barnett government's “deal” over the southwest of WA - a deal that would stamp out all native title claims over the region.

[Photo by Desire Mallet from Embassy gathering 3 March 2012. Article by Kamala Emanuel 5 March 2012.]

Photos below by Desire Mallet