Friday, June 20, 2008

Who will stand by the people of Borroloola?

Once again the traditional owners of land currently occupied by mining company Xtrata have been forced to give way to the powerful mining company!
According to an ABC report on Wednesday, our own police force stood between indigenous people from four different language groups and a sacred site! On an ABC TV news report I believe I heard a representative from the mine informing the group that the land is private property and they would allow one elder only to enter!

Once again the people have been squashed and their religious beliefs disregarded. Why aren't we fighting for these people's rights! How can they be so easily pushed aside?

In an ABC radio interview last Friday Territory parliamentarian Malarndirri McCarthy, one of few members of our government who is prepared to put the rights of Australian people before the dictates and demands of a mining company, voiced her hope that the federal environment minister would take some action. But Mr Peter Garret has shown his true colours and refused to stand up for the protection of this important river. When the damage to the environment becomes known I hope he is held accountable for what he has allowed to happen.

traditional owner Jacob Lansen gave gravity to the significance of action taken by Xtrata to divert the river.
JACOB LANSEN: "We've got to prove to you mob that we've lost everything, we've got nothing and that it doesn't stop us from fighting. We've still got to fight even though we've lost everything."
Listen to the interview Here

The Northern Land Council say that the lock-out could be illegal and wants the matter investigated. Queensland Aboriginal activist Murrandoo Yanner has joined the fight to protect these peoples rights and the river, he is calling on others to stand up and has vowed that this will be a long fight.

I find it ironic that one of the most popular Australian films is "The Castle". We like it because we can relate to the battle between a regular Australian and powerful forces threatening to displace him and his family from their home. And we all seem to ascribe to the philosophy that a man's home is his castle... Yet who will stand with the people of Borroloola and the McCarthur river when they fight for something that in terms of cultural, spiritual and personal significance absolutely eclipses our notion of a castle? Who will stand with them as they fight to protect what is central to their very existence?


Kevin Murray said...

This seems an important story to publicise. I hope there's strong debate about it. There was recently an activist from talking about similar issues in Ecuador.

David J said...

Thanks for your comment Kevin.
Yes it is important but it has gone pretty well un heralded in the media and the people have had great dificulty communicating with the Government about this and other breaches of their rights.