Cease the attacks on Brisbane’s Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy
Socialist Alliance Brisbane released the statement below on May 18
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The Socialist Alliance expresses its full support and solidarity with the Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy in Musgrave Park, South Brisbane, and strongly condemns the actions of police and Brisbane City Council in forcibly evicting the Aboriginal community members at the embassy on May 16.
The use of more than 200 police to stage a dawn raid on the peaceful embassy is a return to the police state tactics of the Joh Bjelke-Petersen regime in Queensland 30 years ago.
This heavy-handed show of force also appears to be a clear signal by Liberal National Party (LNP) Mayor Graham Quirk and Premier Campbell Newman of their intentions to crack down on peaceful protest in this new era of LNP political dominance in Queensland.
This attack on democratic rights is a warning to all those campaigning for social justice, union rights and environmental protection that the new state government is set to use all the forces of the state machine against legitimate dissent.
Musgrave Park has been a tribal camping area and sacred site for the Jagera people for centuries, well before the British colonial invasion of Australia in 1788. It has also been a recognised gathering place for Aboriginal people in Brisbane for decades.
Moreover, the Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy was established there two months ago as part of the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra in 1972. The Musgrave Park Embassy has become a meeting place for Murris in Brisbane and a symbol of the Black struggle for rights and sovereignty throughout Queensland.
The reason given for the eviction this week was the Greek Paniyiri Festival, which has been held annually in Musgrave Park for 26 years. There have always been good relations between West End's Greek community and the local Aboriginal people in the past, and undoubtedly a compromise solution for co-existence between Paniyiri and the Aboriginal Embassy could have been found. Instead, Brisbane City Council and the state government chose to use massive force against the peaceful embassy residents and supporters.
The Aboriginal Embassy has now moved, at least temporarily, to an area at the top of Musgrave Park near Jagera Hall, with council agreement. Talks between Embassy representatives and the council are due for May 22.
The Socialist Alliance calls on the council to immediately end all repression of the Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy, and the dropping of all charges against supporters of the embassy imposed during the eviction on May 16.
We call on the council and the state government to make an agreement with Embassy representatives to allow them to return to the original site in Musgrave Park, and to permit the sacred flame to burn again in its original place in the park.
Solidarity with the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy is a declaration of support for Aboriginal rights and empowerment throughout the country.
Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.
Sam Watson is the Socialist Alliance national spokesperson on Indigenous rights and a Murri activist. Subscribe to Green Left TV.