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Issue #1636      April 30, 2014

Cops target protest over visiting royals

Queensland police clamped down on Aboriginal protesters in Brisbane two weeks ago, breaking up the group at South bank before they’d even had a chance to ask the visiting Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to “give back what you stole”.

Wayne Wharton speaks with a police officer at a Sydney Opera House protest about the royal Family’s visit to Australia. (Photo: Brendon Qu)

However, the group simply followed the police instruction, moved and carried on with their protest, chanting “Was, is and always will be Aboriginal land”, “No treaty, no peace” and waving placards about Aboriginal sovereignty and land rights.

Kooma man and member of the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy Wayne Wharton travelled to Sydney earlier in the week to carry the message to the royal visit to the Opera House. “In 1992, the Mabo High Court case found that the Crown’s claim of ownership and sovereignty of this continent via terra nullius was illegal,” he said.

“The court upheld that there was a system of governance by the original tribes and that our sovereignty has never been ceded. It is only through the Royal Family’s false and illegal claim of sovereignty over this continent that federal, state and territory governments derive their authority to pass laws and enforce them.

“By not answering the big question posed by the Mabo decision, the Queen, her representatives and the Australian government have effectively been lying to everyone who calls this continent home since 1992.

“All people who call this continent home need to start maturely and seriously engaging with the issue of Aboriginal sovereignty because the Queen and the government have proven incapable of doing this.”

Police officers made no arrests at either of the protests.

“Here we are 12 years after the Mabo decision still parading the British Royal Family as head of state, still paying these people coming to this country,” he said.

“It’s hypocritical, an insult to that High Court decision and to Aboriginal people. On the one hand, white Australians want reconciliation, and say they’re sorry for all the things Britain has done to us – but they’re happy for representatives of the Crown to come here and wipe shit on us.”

However, Mr Wharton was equally as scathing of the lack of Aboriginal protesters in Sydney. “There’s a lack of leadership, a lack of fight in our young people. The first thing you must do as an Aboriginal person is defend your country,” he said.

“There was definitely a lack of attention from people living in Sydney – what does that say about our plight, our fight for justice? Has Sydney given up that role? From the land councils, leadership has been non-existent. Where’s the leadership fighting for our rightful place defending our country – have all these people given up the fight in return for superannuation and a safe job?

“When I came through, I was taught by great leaders that your response as a black person was to defend your country.

“I think the Howard government destroying our community-controlled organisations has meant we are less able to mobilise as political units and support each other and drove a wedge through the heart of our community.

“The political momentum that existed in this country has stalled.”

Koori Mail

Next article – Western Australia, mother of all jailers

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