ASEN signs onto International Declaration: ‘Biochar’, a new big threat to people, land, and ecosystems

The Australian Student Environment Network has today signed onto the International Declaration: ‘‘Biochar’, a new big threat to people, land, and ecosystems’ (below).

We are looking forward to being involved in supporting ongoing organising resistance to biochar, ‘offsets’, technofixes, and other unjust non-solutions to climate change.

Continue reading →

Alliance reponds to Uranium Association's 'Dialogue Groups'

The Australian Student Environment network is a member of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance, an alliance of Aboriginal nations facing and fighting the nuclear industry and environmentalists and supporters.

MEDIA RELEASE – FEBRUARY 18, 2009

The Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) has today dismissed moves by the Australian Uranium Association to reposition itself as the solution to systemic Aboriginal disadvantage through the formation of an Indigenous Dialogue Group.

“The uranium industry’s attempt to promote itself as a cure to Aboriginal poverty is in direct conflict to the reality of the Aboriginal experience,” said ANFA Committee member and Adnyamathanha custodian Jillian Marsh. “Extensive case study research and the concerns raised by Aboriginal people at the grass roots level shows that mining agreements have not improved life for Aboriginal people and uranium mines mean more problems.”

Late last year a detailed examination of hundreds of mining agreements by the Native Title working group found that less than twenty had brought significant benefit to Aboriginal communities.

“It is cynical for the uranium industry to act as if it can deliver for Aboriginal people. The main lasting effect of uranium mining for Aboriginal people is radioactive waste on their country, and no resources to clean up the mess left by miners,” said Ms Marsh. “This is a worldwide phenomenon; Australians are one part of a global assault inflicted by mining corporations and governments who care more about profits than about long term effects on our Nation and our lands.”

Formed in 1997, the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance brings together Aboriginal people and environment and public health groups concerned about existing or proposed nuclear developments in Australia, particularly on Aboriginal homelands.

The Alliance provides a forum for sharing of knowledge, skills and experience and an opportunity to come together to protect country and culture from nuclear developments. We provide this service in response to the lack of free and informed consent and decision-making that is gripping the Impact Assessment procedures supposedly in place to regulate mining industries, and the pro-mining position taken by leaders within Native Title and Aboriginal Land Rights in Australia.

The Alliance helped to build the successful campaign to stop the Jabiluka uranium mine in the Northern Territory, and more recently, a proposed national nuclear waste dump in South Australia.

ANFA Committee member and Kokatha Mula custodian Sue Coleman Haseldine said: “Aboriginal people have been and remain at the sharp end of resistance to the uranium and nuclear industry in Australia and we are not about to be swayed by an industry PR exercise.”

Contact:

  • Jillian Marsh 0407 804 423
  • Sue Coleman Haseldine 0458 544 593

Information about the Alliance is posted at: <www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear/issues/oz/alliance>.

On Sovereignty: an interview with Aunty Peta

What does sovereignty mean to you?

Burangidigol, it means freedom, it means ancestors, it means sovereignty in our own language. We come from a society of freedom. That’s what our society’s based on; not just free for all and do what you like, but freedom.

So in being a sovereign and standing as a sovereign and walking as a sovereign and breathing as a sovereign I am living my culture. It’s not an appendage, I am it – that’s how important it is to me. The word sovereignty, being an English word, that’s a fantastic one, Burangidigol is sovereignty as well in our language and it’s our birth right, it’s not something that we should just reclaim, it’s about who we are. It means walking who we are, walking our culture, not culture as a physical act, like making a basket, but this is our culture too, quite frankly.

What actions do you take that are informed by your sovereignty?

For a start, I don’t acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Australian government over my life, because it has none. That’s the basis and the foundation of my walk, and my fight is to not just actively reject their jurisdiction but to put it right, that’s justice to me.

So that’s the root of our movement, it’s not just protecting our natural rights, that’s an international law; we’re sovereigns. It’s about accepting our law and walking as we are meant to be walking in this day and age, and as we’ve always walked. It’s not new. It’s something that’s new to a lot of people, yes, because we’ve been enslaved for so long. There’s people in the world who’ve been enslaved for much longer, it’s only been 200 years for us but it’s about just freeing ourselves from the bondage of this society.

We’re not eligible to be bound, that’s the whole point. The whole foundation of our standing up is that the government, they’re foreign powers, they do not have any legal jurisdiction over us at all, so our walk is about educating and rejecting that.

Would you take actions of civil disobedience in the course of your sovereignty?

I wouldn’t call it civil disobedience, I call it just our birth right. I don’t call it war or terror. We’re under duress here in our own country living the way that we do. What they do are acts of terror, they are the terrorists, they are the ones enacting war upon us.

So, it’s a long walk, of course, and our fight is an endless fight, probably until I close my eyes on life, but I hope, when I’m an old girl, I’m gunna have a peaceful existence one day, so I gotta get all this straightened out now as a young person. It’s my right as an older person, to be able to sit down comfortably in my lands somewhere, not be invaded by any foreign forces, and to teach my grandchildren, great grandchildren, whoever’s about, about who they are, and to never forget that, and teach them about how to use the environment, and be one with the environment, that’s what I’m meant to be fuckin’ doing. I’m meant to be doing that now as well, that’s what I’m meant to be doing every day of my life. I got six children, they’re my responsibility, to teach about this stuff, about culture, about how to live.

We live in a culture today, it’s a funny thing to call this lifestyle, but it is a culture, this culture’s about slavery. It’s go get a job, okay, but what’s a job? A job is walking for someone else’s dream. I don’t want their jobs, I don’t want to be enslaved or bound to anyone else’s dream but my own, or people who have like-minded dreams.

I just don’t agree with what they want me to do, and there’s so many people, no matter where your ancestors have come from, in this day and age we have the same problem, and that’s all there is to it. They want us to voluntarily give up our freedom, so we can help someone else, and who is this someone else? Someone who’s been ripping our lives apart, and I won’t contribute to that, sorry, I never will.

Sovereignty’s about governance – it’s not about an action, it’s not about a protest. It’s about governance in our lives, which will build into governance of clans, which will build into governance of nations, which is I guess that catchphrase of self-determination and self-sufficiency as well. It’s about being self-sufficient in a legal sense of the word, to be able to hold our own court legally. If we don’t know our natural rights, if we don’t know our own legal jurisdiction within our realm, and our legal jurisdiction in their realm, and all the other realms that affect us, well then we’re shot ducks, were just bound to be slaves.

Every single human being on the face of the earth has sovereignty. Every single person, not just us. It’s a natural right, that’s an international legal term, natural rights, which means that we don’t have to bow down to a monarch or a government. That’s how it is for everybody.

You have the right to be a sovereign if you choose, and everybody has that right and choice. The term is called a freeman, and their rights are, like I said, the same as ours. They always fight against, or deflect any governing body or foreign power over them, it’s just about learning how to do that.

The Australian government is a corporation. A corporation is not a governing power, it’s like Ronald McDonald saying, “Here’s a licence, drive with it.” All these people [freemen] know the truth under common law, no governing power can do those things to us, so they don’t use licenses, they get pulled up, but if they know all of their shit, they’re free. You gotta know the right things to say, the right questions to ask the police when they come, but that’s how it works.

How would you like to see other people engage in and respect sovereignty?

Well, definitely learn about their own type of sovereignty that they’re entitled to. Us having jurisdiction means that freemen can come into our jurisdiction by invitation and sit inside of our realm, so they’re protected that way. The sovereignty movement is an endless fight. I just hope by the time I’m an old person that I’m not at the same point that we’re at today. If I sat in their jurisdiction I can guarantee that I would be going to the grave fighting tooth and nail, every minute, for any given thing, that’s what they do to us. They’ll make a fight there, there, there, there and there, and we go around fighting them all and we’re fucked by the end of the day. They make lots of spot fires for us, but what I see with sovereignty, going on the route that we are, all those spot fires can be fought with one spear. That’s what I’m seeing as a practical measure as well because everything is to do with sovereignty. Every single fight is to do with sovereignty.

People learn about their rights and then come and learn about our jurisdiction. I don’t see any sense in people who come from this jurisdiction knowing nothing, cause in anything they do, they’ll get fucked by the system, and we don’t want that to happen to people. Sovereignty is about taking total responsibility for your life. We can’t carry everybody on our head. Sovereignty is about self-determination and self-sufficiency. We’re not there yet, but that’s what were moving towards. It’s about living our birthright, our own law.

The Prescribed Area Peoples' Alliance

The Prescribed Area People’s Alliance is a group of Aboriginal people from communities affected by the NT Intervention. More than 130 people have joined Alliance over two meetings in Mparntwe – Alice Springs on September 29 and November 7.

Today, Friday November 7, the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance held its second meeting. We have issued the following statement:

We are outraged that today Lex Wotton, an Indigenous man from Palm Island, was sentenced for 6 years for protesting the murder of another Indigenous man by a white policeman. That policeman has since been promoted and given $100,000 compensation. Police brutality and harassment of Indigenous people continues throughout Australia, including here in Central Australia in our town camps and communities. It has gotten worse since the Intervention with new powers and military style raids.

The NTER* must be immediately repealed. The $1 billion that has been spent on rolling out this legislation has been wasted, and could have been spent supporting our communities, the services and programs that we have in our communities, that are owned and controlled by us. No one wants it.

We are tired of people who aren’t living this Intervention saying it is good for our people. They don’t have to line up for store cards, have police come through their house or fight to keep their homes or blocks of land.

Income management is not good for us. It’s too hard to access our money. Kids are crying all round for money for drink, for school, but nothing in our pocket. Kids are suffering under the Intervention. Income Management has to be voluntary. People can manage their own money.

The Intervention is racist. If this was about alcohol and children, why is it just Aboriginal people that have this legislation, and not everyone else? Problems exist everywhere. We are not all alcoholics and child abusers, we are strong First Nations people and we should not be treated like this.

The Intervention has demonised Aboriginal men. The government always says that all the women are for the Intervention and men are against it. But the majority of people in the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance are women and strong men are standing up behind them in support.

The Racial Discrimination Act must be immediately reinstated. It must never be suspended again to push through another government policy. Every time it has been suspended, it has been so the government can do something to hurt Aboriginal people. The Federal Government must also sign and ratify the Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

These assimilation policies destroy our culture and our lives. It is the Stolen Generation all over again. The government just said sorry to us, but at the same time they are doing this Intervention. They will have to say sorry again.

The government is refusing to build us any housing unless we sign over control of our land for 40 years or more. We say NO LEASES. We will not sign. Why couldn’t they help us out with money for our housing and services? It is our right for these things. Since they took the 5-year leases with the Intervention, they have done nothing. Why do they need 40, 80 years more? The government having this control is no good. Our lives depend on our land. It is connected to our songlines, our culture and our dreaming.

We are angry they are threatening to close down outstations. People choose to live out on their land on outstations. It is their home, their country. The government must provide funding for outstations, not take it away so people have to move into town. Many people don’t want to live in town, they want to live on their land. In town, there is already a lot of over-crowding and problems. We had to fight hard for outstations, but now we are going to have to fight hard to keep them.

We are angry the NT government is trying to stop teaching of language in schools. We need to fight for our culture and our language. Schools must be Aboriginal way – we need bilingual schools, with two way learning. Our kids need to learn in our own languages. Culture must be kept strong.

Us mob from outstations, town-camps and communities are all subjected to this racist legislation. So we, the prescribed area people are going to stick on our decision to keep fighting. We are not going to give up until the government stops this Intervention, listens to us and starts working with us properly.

We call on other communities to take action, in their communities. We call for rallies here in Alice Springs and around the country to mark Human Rights Day on December 13, 60 years since the UN human rights charter was signed. We call for everyone who supports Aboriginal rights to converge on Canberra for the opening of Parliament in 2009.

For more information contact: Barbara Shaw 0401291166 or Valerie Martin 0429891861