Tent Embassy will fight closure
Gungalidda Elder Wadjularbinna, of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, has condemned the National Capital Authority's plans to build Reconciliation Place in Canberra as "a conspiracy to undermine and eventually replace the Tent Embassy". The Authority intends to have the new structure replace the Tent Embassy, in front of the old Parliament House. "This is another act of genocide and dispossession", said Wadjularbinna. "It shows the refusal of the hostile Howard Government to recognise, accept and respect our living system, which is a unique, complex and balanced system of law/lore, spirituality, religion and social organisation. "It is more humane than the foreign system which oppresses us. What are we to reconcile to if Howard does not recognise our own way of life, which has nurtured us for thousands of years and stood the test of time?" Wadjularbinna said the ruling in the Yorta Yorta case proved "we are dealing with a foreign power bereft of spirituality." She said that when the court decided that the "tide of history" had washed away any connection the Yorta Yorta people have to their land it was far removed from the truth because "spiritual connectedness to our ancestors' lands began with creation and goes beyond the grave". "This Spirit lives on in the Land. This is our identity. This is our sovereignty, which can never be extinguished by bulldozers and decrees. This is what we teach around the Fire for Peace and Justice at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy." Condemning the Reconciliation Place project, Wadjularbinna pointed out that the Tent Embassy is the only national political platform that grassroots Aboriginal people have in Australia. "I have come here from the Gulf of Carpenteria often over the years as my people are out of sight and out of mind, oppressed by systematic and institutionalised genocidal policies which continue in full force today." She said many Indigenous people are still suffering the grief and loss of having their children taken from them over four generations and that the trauma continues on through the children and grandchildren. "Here at the Tent Embassy I meet with many other Aboriginal people from all over Australia who use the Embassy. To try and remove the Tent Embassy is denying us the basic human rights of religious freedom and self- determination. "We are prepared to fight to the bitter end against any more genocide and until our sovereign right in our own land is recognised, accepted and respected. Only then can we be equal in our differences."
* * *Acknowledgements: Koori Mail