Aboriginal community to lead People's March on CHOGM
BY KAREN FREDERICKS
BRISBANE — The traditional owners of Brisbane and surrounding areas will throw their backing behind planned protest plans against the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in October, deciding at a mass meeting at Musgrave Park on August 17 to establish an Aboriginal Tent Embassy in the park during CHOGM and to lead the People's March on the opening of the meeting.
The People's March will gather at Roma Street Forum at 9am on October 6 and will proceed across the Brisbane River to the tent embassy at Musgrave Park, located just a few hundred meters from the CHOGM venue at the Brisbane convention centre.
Sam Watson, a spokesperson for the Brisbane Murri community and the CHOGM Action Network (CAN), told Green Left Weekly the proposal received strong support from traditional owners from all areas in and around Brisbane.
"The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service will be providing legal observers and legal support and the medical service will be setting up a clinic", he said. "All community organisations will be providing transport to ensure that our elders and young children can participate."
The community meeting's proposals for the march and tent embassy received enthusiastic support at the ATSIC board meeting that took place in Brisbane a few days later. Land councils and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations around the country will be encouraged to come to Brisbane to participate.
The People's March on CHOGM will take up the call for a treaty between indigenous and non-indigenous people in Australia and participating groups will also raise further specific demands, such as compensation for the thousands of Aboriginal people who worked to develop pastoral leases and other rural infrastructure in Queensland and were never paid for their labour.
CAN spokesperson Karen Fletcher said that environmentalist, socialist and human rights groups in the network see the demand for a treaty as inextricably linked with the other issues to be raised at the Peoples' March, such as human rights, trade liberalisation, climate change, and Third World debt.
"To demand an end to corporate globalisation is to demand an end to colonisation", she told GLW, "and colonisation is still happening right here under our noses."
"CHOGM is an important symbol of the process of colonisation that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been resisting for more than 200 years. The movement against corporate globalisation has much to learn from the ongoing struggles of indigenous peoples — they have been suffering massive state repression since well before we were born."
The sacred treaty circles of Oodgeroo of the tribe Noonuccal, custodian of the land Minjerribah, will be conducting "treaty business" in Musgrave Park following the march, encouraging individuals to sign up for a treaty.
The sacred treaty circles have issued a statement, via the CAN website, calling for a treaty to end the war on Aboriginal people:
"The first act of multinational imperialism in this country was the declaration of terra nullius. This was the legal basis of the deliberate introduction of smallpox and other diseases, massacres, poisonings, hangings and other methods of genocide. This was also the first economic rationalist war.
"Twenty-first century global capitalism exists in this country because of Britain's groundwork over the past two centuries, it is the same beast as terra nullius.
"The queen, the prime minister and the 'who's who' of the invader hierarchy will be in Brisbane during CHOGM. So will the descendants of those who survived the genocidal onslaught. In the focus of the whole world, all the relevant people will be together in one place at one time. CHOGM provides an opportunity to end the war against Aboriginal people. Don't wait for the queen, though!"