By Jennifer Baker on 03/19/2015
By Matthew McLoughlin @soit_goes – Australia – On March 16, 2015, thousands took action across dozens of cities & smaller regional communities in Australia demanding the government abandon its plan to evict 150 Aboriginal communities in Western Australia. Major city centers in Brisbane & Melbourne were shut down by massive sit-ins while Perth marched on Parliament. Online people used the hashtag #SOSBlakAustralia to show their support for those taking the streets. The day’s actions were organized by a vast group of Indigenous peoples, community organizations, spear-headed by a small collective going by SOS Blak Australia.
This latest attack on Australia’s Aboriginal communities will create up to 20,000 refugees & add another chapter to the history of the Australian government’s attempted genocide of Indigenous peoples. The closures are being done under the guise of budget cuts, Australia’s racist Prime Minister Tony Abbott has gone as far as saying that the government can no longer fund a “lifestyle choice”, referring to Aboriginal people living on their traditional lands. Truth be told it is Aboriginal people who are being forced to fund the government’s “lifestyle” which continues to rely on exploiting stolen land and resources, including fossil fuels. The price they’ve paid includes not only their land but the attempted destruction of their culture.
Australia is not just attempting to balance its budget on the backs of Aboriginal people but it has been alleged that it is displacing them to make way for drilling & mining projects. Western Australia’s ‘Sovereign Union Governor’ told RT that the government was “after gold, uranium, natural resources of aboriginal land”. One the world’s oldest cultures could be displaced by one of the world’s most outdated technologies: mining. Meanwhile, resistance to the closures has been building up since November with the demolition of the Oombulgurri community. The process began with utilities being shut off followed by forced removals & home demolitions. (You can read more about their experience here). This process is now being repeated as aboriginal communities began reporting water shut offs earlier this week.
One of the focal points of resistance has been Matagarup, site of the Noongar Tent Embassy which was established in 2012 in response to attacks on indigenous land claims. The site became a refuge for Aboriginal people displaced by community closures. On March 13, over fifty police officers, including many on horseback, descended on the encampment. Despite their efforts police failed to evict the refugee camp (You can learn more about their struggle here).
The March 16th day of action showed the world a people that is committed to protecting its Indigenous population from government land grabs. As the government moves forward with its plan to evict these communities expect to see many more actions & calls for international solidarity.