Tent embassy hosts anti-genocide forum


Tent embassy hosts anti-genocide forum

By Margaret Allum

On October 26, at the Aboriginal tent embassy opposite Canberra's Old Parliament House, a forum was held to support the case being heard y the ACT Supreme Court claiming that acts of genocide have been committed against the indigenous people of Australia.

The 1949 Genocide Convention, ratified by Australia in 1951, defines genocide as: "Killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group".

The plaintiffs believe that this applies to the effects of more than two centuries of European settlement. The 1997 stolen children inquiry's report Bringing Them Home recommended that the federal government legislate to implement the genocide convention.

Wadjularbinna Nulyarimma said that she has grave concerns for the physical and mental well-being of her people. On a recent visit to her home community in the gulf country of Queensland, she saw great devastation and human suffering. Nulyarimma said non-Aboriginal people must look closely at the consequences of being denied rights.

"The Native Title (Wik) Amendment Act 1998 has created the ultimate crisis", Nulyarimma said.

"It creates perceived obligations to negotiate our birthright. Our land is not a commodity for exchange.

"Under our laws, we have an inherent obligation and responsibility not to trade away our sovereignty because we will be denying our children's children their inherent birthright."

Michael Anderson stated that the act created statutory law guaranteeing "the uninterrupted rape of our mother Earth by the profiteering multinational corporations".