Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Australia Day, Invasion Day or Aboriginal Sovereignty Day?

JANUARY 9, 2007: On January 26 2006 Aboriginal Sovereignty Day was declared, when representatives of Aboriginal Sovereign Nations agreed, by consensus, on "Invasion Day" 2006, that the 26th of January would be known as Aboriginal Sovereignty Day. The gathering from across the land at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 2006 was in response to the continual Government threat to control the Tent Embassy site; the last united, free voice of Aboriginal People. Aboriginal sovereignty was first declared in Australia in 1972 at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy...

The issue of Aboriginal Sovereignty has been unresolved since 1770 when Aboriginal people opposed Captain James Cook's reconnaissance of the Great Southern Land `Terra Australis', followed by Captain Arthur Philips incursion establishing the platform for invasion. Out-posts were initially set-up on the East Coast of `Terra Australis' and methodically spread across Aboriginal people's `terra firma'.

As a direct result of these unprovoked and planned transgressions, Aboriginal people of terra Australis resisted and defended our inherent sovereign heritage that continues to be suppressed by political ideology and economic greed which clearly stands out in the endemic statistical evidence of Aboriginal people's quality of life and restrictions of a free Aboriginal voice.

Australia's lack of political freedoms and religious morals are denying Aboriginal people's right to self-determination, is an indictment on all Australians.

So, on January 26 2006 Aboriginal Sovereignty Day was declared, when representatives of Aboriginal Sovereign Nations agreed, by consensus, on "Invasion Day" 2006, that the 26th of January would be known as Aboriginal Sovereignty Day.

The Peoples identified the 34 year-old Tent Embassy in Canberra as a significant place of social, spiritual and political importance to Aboriginal Peoples, and a symbol of the assertion of Aboriginal Sovereignty.

The Tent Embassy calls on all Aboriginal Sovereign Nations to stand up against the illegal occupation of our country and continue to resist the oppression of our people. Until there is true justice for our people, these issues will not go away and we will continue to resist.

In 2006 the Tent Embassy took the Sacred Fire to the 'Stolenwealth' Games in Melbourne in March. The fire contains the message of peace, healing and justice, and create a focal point for unfinished business. We call on all Aboriginal Nations to send representatives to the Embassy to commemorate and review the issues of Land Rights in Australia.

The Tent Embassy reiterates the call on the Australian Government to desist the illegal occupation of Aboriginal lands, the oppression of Aboriginal Peoples, and to stop denying the true history of this country.

Indigenous leaders, including Marji Thorpe, Gary Foley, Robbie Thorpe and Michael Mansell claim that Native Title and Reconciliation haven't adequately addressed Indigenous rights. They say: "Native Title has mainly embroiled Indigenous peoples in complex legal processes where they have (generally unsuccessfully) had to prove their fundamental human rights to the land."

The campaigners, known as the Black GST, say the process "puts the onus on Indigenous peoples to somehow prove continuous connection with their land, an impossible task in many situations given the effects of our dispossession and attempted genocide."

On Australia Day last year the diverse and vibrant group marched peacefully through Canberra, gathered at the Tent Embassy on the lawns in front of Old Parliament House and called for recognition of indigenous sovereignty over the land.

"We're wanting to let all the people know that all the land in Australia has been given back to the Aboriginal people... and the sovereignty now lies with all Aboriginal nations," a spokesperson Robert Corowa said at the Embassy.

To many Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people, Australia Day is labelled "Invasion Day" - in recognition of the colonisation of the continent by the British, he said. "We call it invasion day. The most important thing is that everybody in Australia who's now living here... we strongly encourage them to come to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and place a leaf in our fire."

Legal director of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), Michael Mansell, said the current Australia Day celebrations should be scrapped and a new national day chosen. Mr Mansell said Australia Day would forever remain a racist blot on Australia's political landscape as long as the event was held on the anniversary of the landing of the First Fleet.

"There can never be reconciliation between whites and Aborigines so long as the anniversary of the coming of white people is the basis for celebrating Australia Day," he said. "A fair and just society cannot be built on celebrating gains by one race at the expense of another."

Mr Mansell has also reported the theft of an Aboriginal sign from the TAC premises. The sign reading: "AUSTRALIA DAY Yes, let’s celebrate: MURDER, INVASION, RAPE, THEFT" was removed on the 25th of January hours after being installed on the Launceston premises.

Mansell says that he will replace the sign in an effort to "the obvious need to expose the myth, as expressed in the national anthem, that Australia is a free and fair country" and called for "white society" to punish the offenders.

"This is another instance of the continuing trend in Tasmania of racist attacks on both people and property by extreme elements of white society who don't like the truth, who don't like Aborigines and other races. As with the racial attacks on middle Eastern people in Sydney, these Tasmanian incidents show how Australia under the Howard government is becoming more openly xenophobic," he said.

Last year activists in Brisbane burned an Australian flag to protest against celebrations marking European settlement in Australia.

Around 300 protesters staged an "Invasion Day" demonstration. Queensland Premier Peter Beattie condemned the action but one protester said he believed the wrong flag had been burned: "I just felt deep down that it should have been the British flag they burnt not the Australian one."


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