TAC takes British museum to court

February 16, 2007

HOBART — On February 12, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) secured an injunction from the English High Court preventing the British Natural History Museum from conducting any further tests on the remains of 17 deceased Tasmanian Aborigines before a full hearing scheduled for February 22.

Last October, Michael Mansell, the TAC legal director, wrote to the museum seeking negotiations on the unconditional repatriation of the remains so they could be buried according to the customs of local Aborigines.

The TAC pointed out that "most of the remains were gathered by graverobbing or through the outright slaughter of our people in the illicit trade" of the first half of the 19th century.

The museum rejected the TAC's offer, insisting on conducting a further round of "data collection" from the remains before returning them, in contravention to agreement between the Australian and British governments on their repatriation.

On February 15, Mansell announced that federal attorney-general Philip Ruddock had guaranteed government funding for the TAC's case, which is expected to cost around $100,000.

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