Friday, February 17, 2012

Support the Nyoongar Tent Embassy

A Nyoongar Tent Embassy was established on Perth's Heirisson Island on February 12 in the wake of a proposal by the state government to extinguish Nyoongar Native Title. Urgent support has been requested after a second threat by Perth City Council to close the embassy down early on February 17.

Many taking a leading role in the Embassy are local Aboriginal activists recently returned from the 40th anniversary commemoration of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra.

Many Nyoongars have been outraged by premier Colin Barnett’s plans to make a $1 billion deal with the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council involving complete and permanent surrender of all Native Title claims by Nyoongar people.

The Embassy has claimed its objective as being for sovereignty, rejecting any deals with the government that involve ceding rights over land.

Elders, activists and local Nyoongar people have been camping every night at the site, traditionally an important meeting place. "We'll be here as long as it takes," said elder Uncle Ben Taylor in an interview with 7:30 journalists.

On February 16, council officers came to issue an eviction notice but left after being told they were not welcome. Early on February 17, City of Perth CEO Frank Edwards approached the Embassy, where he tossed the council's eviction notices onto the ground. Embassy representatives have said it is improper for Mr Edwards, as representative of a foreign government, to litter their embassy. Council representatives told media that the embassy would have "until the end of the day".