Culturally significant Aboriginal heritage sites continue to be put at risk in Australia, despite the international outcry following Rio Tinto’s destruction of the 46,000-year-old caves at Juukan Gorge. The culprit this time is the Australian Defense Force, which undertakes live-fire training exercises and weapons testing at the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA). Within range of falling missiles and mortars there is evidence of sequential spiritual engagement spanning centuries in rock engravings, heritage artefacts, tool-making sites, and also sites of mythological importance for Indigenous people. Andrew and Robert Starkey, Kokatha Badu (respected senior figures, or lore men) from the Western Desert region of South Australia, have spent decades registering and protecting heritage sites on their land.
By Calla Wahlquist in The Guardian - A protest against the closure of remote Aboriginal communities blocked streets in central Sydney on Sunday, as about 600 people marched against the Western Australian government’s plans to wind back support for communities it deems aren’t viable. The protest began at Town Hall at 1pm on Sunday and moved toward The Block in Redfern, closing George, Lee, Regent and Lawson Streets on the way. It’s the third national call to action and the sixth time protests have shut down an Australian capital city in protest against the plan to overhaul funding to the state’s 247 remote Aboriginal communities, which the premier, Colin Barnett, has said will result in “significantly fewer” homelands communities remaining open.
Australia has again declared war on its Indigenous people, reminiscent of the brutality that brought universal condemnation on apartheid South Africa. Aboriginal people are to be driven from homelands where their communities have lived for thousands of years. In Western Australia, where mining companies make billion-dollar profits exploiting Aboriginal land, the state government says it can no longer afford to "support" the homelands. Vulnerable populations, already denied the basic services most Australians take for granted, are on notice of dispossession without consultation, and eviction at gunpoint. Yet again, Aboriginal leaders have warned of "a new generation of displaced people" and "cultural genocide."
Members of Grassy Narrows First Nation will be in Kenora, Ont., today to take part in a protest rally being held to show the First Nations continuing opposition to logging in the Whiskey Jack Forest. Grassy Narrows spokesperson Randy Fobister said the protest will be will be a peaceful one. “It's pretty much a rally,” he said. “We are going to have vehicles and, in each location we are going to walk on the side of the road, back and forth. And there is going to be a drum," Fobister said. "There is going to be some people speaking. And I will speak as well too.” About 50 people are expected at the rally. Fobister said they'll be making stops at both Kenora Forest Products and the local Ministry of Natural Resources office. Despite opposition from Grassy Narrows First Nation, Ontario's 10-year Forest Management Plan for the area includes clear cutting on the community's traditional territory.
The federal government is expanding its surveillance of public activities to include all known demonstrations across the country, a move that collects information even on the most mundane of protests by Canadians. The email requesting such information was sent out Tuesday by the Government Operations Centre in Ottawa to all federal departments. “The Government Operations Centre is seeking your assistance in compiling a comprehensive listing of all known demonstrations which will occur either in your geographical area or that may touch on your mandate,” noted the email, leaked to the Citizen.
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake is the latest to voice its concern over the federal government’s anti-terror legislation bill C-51. According to the letter sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper Wednesday, the council, like many First Nations across the country, is concerned about the effect the bill could have on activists. “While it is clear that the Canadian people and their government are concerned with both real and potential incidents of terrorism in Canada, there is also a great fear that the law may be used to brand legitimate protests by First Nations as acts of terrorism,” said Chief Lloyd Phillips. The proposed anti-terror bill will give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service police-like powers.