Green Left Weekly’s Keith Westbrook visited Matagarup (Heirrison Island) in Perth on March 13 to talk to the Aboriginal protesters at the Nyoongar Tent Embassy about their fight for sovereignty and their campaign against the state Coalition government’s plan to extinguish native title rights in the southwest of Western Australia.
Tent Embassy spokesperson Greg Martin’s comments are below.
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As of today, we have now been here for 30 days. We have effectively been quarantined by the Perth city council and the police by the set up of roadblocks — an action that also denies us easy access to emergency services.
We have been invaded on two separate occasions by armed and mounted police. In their attempts to remove us they have stolen our private property and denied us equal and fair treatment.
On the last occasion, out of the number of fires that were burning at the time the police and Perth city council chose only to extinguish the sacred ceremonial fire.
We have been persecuted and victimised for exercising our religious beliefs. In their attempts at removing us from our ancestral land they have denied us our freedom of religion and our right to practise our culture. These are rights of religious freedom, which are sacred throughout the western world.
On top of this, our children are being exposed to racial abuse from people in boats and passing cars, which the police have seemingly done nothing to stop.
These attempts to remove us from our ancestral lands come from the highest seat in parliament, the premier, and the opposition Labor leader. They have publicly stated we have to go.
Our aim is to pursue our sovereign rights to our land and to continue practising our customary law, period. Our resolve is strong in our resistance to forced jurisdiction upon us. Each day more tents come in as our support gathers momentum.