The Guardian July 18, 2001


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."

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Acknowledgements: Koori Mail

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