French researchers: “Aboriginal communities should not be closed!”

Indigenous people shall not be removed by force article 10

Imagine one day getting told that your suburb will “be closed”. That you will lose electricity, water, health care and education for your children, i.e. the services every other citizen of the country where you live is entitled to. The reason? Not a war, as happens in many places whose populations are forced to flee and hide, but the simple fact that the government has decided that you cannot live more than 100 kms away from a town, sharing with others a “lifestyle” in a community deemed “unsustainable and unlikely to attract development opportunities for the future".


In November 2014, the conservative Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, announced the imminent closure of more than a hundred Aboriginal communities in his state. [Barnett belongs to the same “Liberal” party as the racist Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.] The term “closure” in this context means putting a stop to essential government services (water, electricity) to which all Australian citizens are entitled, whatever their situation.


This sudden announcement, made without any consultation with the people it targets, comes after 10 years of negotiations between the federal government of Australia, and the governments of its states and territories, regarding the financial support of Indigenous communities deemed “remote”, where Aboriginal people have lived for thousands of years practising their culture.


It also occurs in a context of unprecedented mining exploration in the remote regions of the continent, and Aboriginal and other supportive critics argue that greed to mine those resources is the real reason driving the expulsions.


“The Australian governments trample their international obligations on the rights of Indigenous peoples in their own country. Australia contravenes so many articles and principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – to which they were one of the last signatories – that it would be tedious to enumerate them all. And this attitude does not solely apply to Indigenous peoples: across the board (refugees, environment, violence against women etc.), the federal government prefers to attack human rights organisations rather than step up to fulfil its own promises and responsibilities.”


[The above is an extract from Scales of Governance – The UN And Indigenous Peoples, a reposting of an article first published in the Huffington Post (French version) by Martin Préaud and Barbara Glowczewski under the title : “Non aux fermetures de communautés aborigènes en Australie” on 27 April 2015. These and 16 French researchers working in Australia in the Scales of governance and the rights of Indigenous Peoples research programme signed the article.


[SOGIP is a global, multi-scale, comparative research project investigating the social, cultural and political issues relating to governance and the rights of Indigenous Peoples.]


“Western Australia has been in the midst of an economic boom fuelled by industries based on resource extraction, a boom that may now be busting. Alongside this giant, a quieter economic engine based on resource extraction chugs along: the customary sector of local Aboriginal economies,” argues Melbourne based Arena Magazine.


“While the former is largely responsible for Australia’s recent economic prosperity, the latter either goes unnoticed or is dismissed as a ‘lifestyle choice’. However, only one of these economic sectors is truly viable in the long term," the magazine writes in an article on The Real Cost of Closing Remote Communities”.


“Mining operations wreak environmental havoc to extract and process non-renewable resources; traditional Aboriginal economies provide valuable ecosystems services in the process of sustainably harvesting renewable resources.”

Why are Aboriginal people so attached to their country, their traditional remote homes? In
Land Rights News Jon Altman, Emeritus Professor of the Australian National University, who has long worked among Aboriginal people, quoted “an old friend” from a community in the Northern Territory on what he sees as “the good life”:

“Being able to go to your country and being able to live here too, that’s the good life. Sometimes going bush, sometimes living here [in the remote community]. The main thing is to have enough food.


“When you have enough food to eat, that’s good. I don’t change my thinking, and I think about my grandparents and their country. What makes me happy is when I go back to my home out bush and I can go out hunting and I can live like the old people from olden times.


“That makes me happy, when I’m in my camp, I can paint, I can drink tea and walk around my camp and the sun goes down. Good, happy. In [the remote community] sometimes happy, sometimes not. I only think about my country.


“I get sad when I think about my home out bush and I can’t get out there. This place here is for white people, but it does give us access to food (from the shops) and to health services at the clinic. We can go bush but the problem is when we get sick or when we have no food out there.


“So it pushes us to come and live here to get food and health services, but we still want to live out bush. It’s a contradiction that frustrates us!”


A prominent Aboriginal activist, Ghillar, Michael Anderson, writes that the Sovereign Union of First Nations and Peoples in Australia is building an international campaign to shut down trade with Australia, to force Australia to deal with Aboriginal sovereignty and to bring an end to colonialism.

“The fact that Australia has maintained a policy of denial and rejects the right of self-determination by substituting a programme of self-management under the governments' terms and conditions is in complete violation of Australia's international obligations.

“Australia does not have the international political maturity to lead the way on a decolonisation process, but as First Nations and Peoples we understand the need to build the process that will contribute to a worldwide liberation of colonised indigenous peoples.

“The British and their successive Australian governments now understand their failure at the attempted total genocide against Aboriginal peoples and as a consequence they have to face up to admissions in the international community of their wrong doings. Such an international campaign will encourage our people and the Australian public to support us in our endeavours. A liberated Australia will be prosperous through its victory over the scourge of colonialism.

“Australia is can no longer hold itself up as the last bastion for the Aryan race. In order to liberate Australia from colonialism it is this mentality that we have to destroy and change for the better.”

[Global Stop the Shut Down of Aboriginal Homelands, TODAY - 11am Friday 1May 2015, Garema Place, Civic, CANBERRA. Contact GHILLAR MICHAEL ANDERSON ­ 0427 292 492 Convenor of Sovereign Union, Head of State of Euahlayi Peoples Republic, +61 (0) 427 292 492]

Amnesty International has posted this list of places where rallies about Aborigines’ rights were planned for 1 May:

* States throughout Australia: ACT, NSW, NT, Qld, SA, Tas, Vic, WA:

* Aotearoa (New ZealandZ): Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington  |  * Canada: Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver  |  * Germany: Berlin  | * Hawaii: Honolulu  | * Hong Kong China  |  * UK: London  | * USA: Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Washington DC 

See the following links for details:

Stop Closure of Remote Aboriginal Communities Rallies (a-z)


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