Sunday, October 21, 2012

Aboriginal people march for sovereignty

Elders and activists from the Nyoongar Tent Embassy in Perth took to the streets on October 18 in a march to state parliament in defiance of Premier Colin Barnett's attempts to do away with native title.

Traffic was stopped as the crowd of 50 people took over St George's Terrace in Perth's CBD and made its way to parliament.

The protest delivered a petition putting the Barnett government and the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) “on notice” because they are illegitimate bodies to make policy decisions affecting local Aboriginal people.

SWALSC has been in negotiations with the state government about receiving a $1 billion land and cash settlement in return for extinguishing Nyoongar native title rights.

Outrage over this proposed deal, and the marginalisation and lack of consultation with the broader Nyoongar community, led to the establishment of the Nyoongar Tent Embassy at Matagarup (Heirisson Island) in February this year, which faced severe police intimidation and repression.

This latest demonstration by local Aboriginal activists marks the continuation of the campaign for recognition of sovereignty, and the fightback against ongoing efforts to undermine those same rights.

[This article by Chris Jenkins was first published in Green Left Weekly #941. Photos by Zeb Parkes.]