Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Invasion Day Brisbane 2008

Hamish Chitts, Brisbane

26 January 2008

Photo by Owain Lewis Jones

January 26 1788 is a day of infamy, a day when representatives of the British Government and Monarchy claiming the entire continent of Australia as their own, stole the land from the hundreds of nations who already lived there. Around 300 Murris and their supporters rallied and marched through Brisbane’s streets today to observe Invasion Day, to remember warriors who have passed on and to protest against the systemic racist oppression imposed by Federal, State and Territory governments.

In front of Queensland’s State Parliament leading Murri activist Sam Watson chaired the rally. He highlighted recent Aboriginal deaths in custody in Brisbane and Darwin and called for a minute silence to remember the many Aboriginal people who have died in police custody. After this was observed Watson introduced the first speaker, Dennis Walker of the Noonuccal people.

“The incarceration rates are up, the deaths in custody rates are up I don’t like it, I don’t know who does, except those who may profit from it I guess.” said Walker. Walker explained that Australia was claimed under false pretences and that by their own laws the British crown, parliament and subsequent Australian parliaments’ occupation of the land is illegal. He said that the only way to end this illegal occupation and to stop the genocide that is still being brought upon Aboriginal people is through a treaty. Walker spoke of his efforts to discuss a treaty with the Premier of Queensland, Anna Bligh and her hypocrisy refusing to talk now when she has claimed to support a treaty in the past (when she wasn’t Premier). He finished by calling on people to converge on Canberra on 11 and 12 February (the first days of Federal parliament) - joining people from around Australia to demand justice for Aboriginal people. “If Rudd won’t deal we should go overseas and ask for the overseas community to treaty with us so we can get rid of the oppressor.”

A full transcript of Walker’s speech can be read here.

Sam Watson reiterated the point that by their own laws the British and subsequent occupations of Aboriginal lands are illegal. In 1770 despite meeting many senior Aboriginal tribal leaders as he charted the East coast of Australia Captain Cook claimed the entire continent for King George III on the basis that it was "terra nullius" (uninhabited land). This legal lie remained in force until the 3rd of June 1992 when the Mabo Decision ruled that Cook had no basis to extinguish existing Aboriginal ownership of the land.

Wayne Wharton, of the Kooma people told the crowd how his children educate their school teachers about whose land this really is. He warned that the Rudd Government is no different from the previous one and that they’ll hand pick who they decide represents Aboriginal people and that they will pick them on the basis that these representatives will be willing to sell out their own people. Wharton urged the Brisbane community to became the ‘Brisbane Blacks’ of the 1970’s and 80’s, a strong cohesive militant community which set the example and took the lead in the struggle for Aboriginal rights. He highlighted the importance of Lex Wotton’s trial in April and the importance of people turning out in numbers to support him.

A full transcript of Wharton’s speech can be read here.

The crowd then marched from parliament through the city to Musgrave Park. The march stopped at several places along the way the hear speeches. In front of the Executive building of the state government there were speeches about the failure of the Queensland government to repay tens of millions of dollars it stole from Aboriginal workers under the so called protection laws. Outside the building that used to house the Department of Aboriginal and Islander Affairs Sam Watson remembered the many protests and confrontations with police that had happened there.

Photo: Dennis Walker falls as he runs across car roofs from police outside the old Department of Aboriginal and Islander Affairs, George Street, Brisbane, 23 November 1971. (the car drove off)

After crossing the river the protest marched to the edge of a government sponsored Australia Day festival at Southbank. Here Lionel Fogarty and Wayne Wharton educated festival goers with speeches on the true nature of Invasion Day. The protest chanted “thief, thief, thief!” before marching on to Musgrave Park where a festival of Aboriginal music and culture was held at Jagera Hall.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dennis Walker's Invasion Day Speech

Hamish Chitts, Brisbane

This is a transcript of Dennis Walker of the Noonucal people's speech to Brisbane's Invasion Day (Jan26) rally outside Queensland's parliament.

Photo: Dennis Walker by Owain Lewis Jones

Thank you, I won’t bore you with the statistics of the devastation being wrecked upon us in this illegal occupation and the genocide happening as we speak. Suffice to say, and this is my pet baby, the incarceration rates are up, the deaths in custody are up. I don’t like it, I don’t know who does, except those who may profit from it I guess.

We need to begin to deal from our own sovereignty. Instead of the Union Jack being in their flag it should be our flag, we decide. This is by their law, Captain Cook was instructed by his sovereign King George III, “You are, with consent, to take advantage of convenient situations”. He did not get consent, there has never been any consent given in this country by any black fella as far as I know about anything they do. So there is no consent, the sovereign said get consent, Captain Cook did not get consent he acted as a false agent. That’s their law, not ours, their law. Any act of a false agent makes all laws that flow from it, including the First Fleet – the first boat people, all illegal. Now the way to get over that problem is to deal fairly and treaty it and work out our differences and get on with it.

However in their arrogance, and just in case you think I’m arrogant – I know I’m arrogant, but as arrogant as I am, I could never be as arrogant as a white man in this country and don’t say you as individuals aren’t responsible for it, you pay taxes so your police forces, your legislators and your courts do the dirty work for you. So don’t say you haven’t got a hand in this, you helped pay for this coming down on us. Don’t forget that it’s not just us they’re coming after, we are just the convenient scapegoats to get the uranium out so the state can keep the power. Your youth death rates are up too, they come for us today they’ll be coming for you tonight, I think James Baldwin said in the book The Fire Next Time.

I have been trying to get in touch with our Premier about this day, today. Unfortunately she’s not concerned about the fires she’s more concerned about the floods, which I can understand at the moment. So she didn’t have time to meet with me. However I did write her a letter asking for an audience and this letter said:

Dear Premier

I am writing to you as I am somewhat concerned at the ever increasing incarceration rates and deaths in custody of Indigenous people. As you are aware I have tired many ways to address these matters as did my mother before me and we both agreed the only way forward would be by treaty in order for all parties involved to be reconciled under God. I have drafted my Invasion Day message titled ‘A Time for Peace’ and I hoping to talk to you on these matters prior to that and thus this letter to obtain an appointment with you to discuss treaty and related matters.

Peace, prosperity and healing,

Dated Thursday 17 / 1 / 08

That was delivered to her parliamentary office along with enclosures, a copy of A Time for Peace, something I wrote and I’ll read out probably at Musgrave. Also included a copy of my treaty to lease. I also included a copy a letter of reference she gave to me back in 2002 when she was minister of education. She said:

Dear Mr Lynch

I write in support of the application made by Dennis Walker for financial assistance through the Brisbane City Council’s Community Development Assistance Grants to initiate a sacred treaty circles project. This project aims to contribute to the spiritual, environmental and social healing in the Brisbane region and through providing a focussed gathering point, commitment and gathering arena in order to reinforce traditional Aboriginal culture and enhance community relationships. I am very supportive of this goal and ask you that you look favourably on this application.

Thank you for your consideration, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Yours sincerely

Anna Bligh MP
Member for South Brisbane, Minister for Education
1st March 2002

So they speak with a forked tongue. She couldn’t meet with me to discuss treaty so I could say, “Listen, we’ve got a deal going with the Queensland Government that may be a little humane and we may get a chance for some justice here, but we’ve still got to do this via a treaty process.” They’ve refused to meet, they’ve refused to talk, they continue the genocide, the death rates are up and the incarceration rates are up. What do we do? On March 11 and 12 we go to Canberra and put it to Rudd. Essentially the same thing – treaty now. If Rudd won’t deal we should go overseas and ask for the overseas community to treaty with us so we can get rid of the oppressor.

Thank you.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Wayne Wharton's Invasion Day Speech

Hamish Chitts, Brisbane

This is a transcript of Wayne Wharton of the Kooma people's speech to Brisbane's Invasion Day (Jan26) rally outside Queensland's parliament.

Photo: Wayne Wharton by Owain Lewis Jones

These boys are free men (pointing to the boys at his side) they are not citizens belonging to Australia, my daughters they are free women. When they go to school and they ask my children to stand up there and sing the national anthem my kids sit down. When they ask my children whose flag that is they tell them “It’s yours”. When they ask what their (the children) flag is they show them (pointing to Aboriginal flag). These are our children educating teachers. When we send our children to school we should be sending them there with the truth. Not with the lies that these fellas spend millions and millions of dollars on portraying to their children down the road and across the road today (Australia Day celebrations in Brisbane).

Our people have done many things over the years to survive. I can remember the time watching Dennis (Dennis Oodgeroo Walker) and the other fellas, the other warriors that fought in the early days. I know other people and myself when we went home got spat on by our own people. “Don’t bring your black shit here, we’re good black fellas here, we’re living alright we’ve got a job. Don’t bring your land rights shit here!” Now every bastard wants to be a traditional owner. The same bastards, my uncles, my father’s brothers that spat on me and told me don’t bring your shit here, they were the first pigs at the trough looking for their T.A. The same dogs are coming at your door now.

This Rudd Government he’s going around hand picking the Jackies, hand picking the Marys, how many secret meetings trying to get an amicable solution to his problem, we don’t have a problem with being black do we, he’s got a problem with us being black. His community, Brisbane, has a history of leading the politics of Indigenous affairs in this country. I’m proud to stand here with the handful of staunch people that showed up today, that haven’t given up the fight. The other people that couldn’t be bothered getting here they’ll come along when the T.A. is on the tray, I’ll bet you. The thing is they talk about this national body, a new mob of Jackies to sit up there and rubber stamp their racist ideologies and their racist politics. They are doing that now, we as a community we have an opportunity this year to jam that process, to take the staunch back and put this community back in line and pull Rudd and Swan into gear and start running the agenda back to us fellas rather than hand pick Jackies and Marys around the country.

How we do this is to start acting like the Brisbane Blacks community that we were. Turn up at the community meetings get the resolution on the floor and start taking it to their electorates and their offices here in Brisbane. We don’t have to rake up money to go down to Canberra or down to Sydney, we got the bastards here in this town. If we can’t get a $2.50 fare to get to a meeting, to turn up for a march and go and show these blokes out there in the electorates, we shouldn’t be standing here. That opportunity is in our grasp this year. With the proper leadership in this community and this community starting acting like a community again we can take these bastards on and we can change the agenda and we can lock out the Marys and the Jackies.

But it takes effort. Where do we go? We’ve got Lex Wotton's case coming up in April, we’ve got to be here again in numbers. All these other people as soon as he (Rudd) decides on his national body you look around here, you where it is, when the time comes we have to make the right decisions and in April this case means we’ve got to double this strength (of the crowd). If you’ve got cousins, sisters, brothers, aunties still sitting at home you make sure they turn up to the next one. Have your debate at home, but we’ve got to stand, we’ve got to tell the truth. There are people in Townsville marching today, there are people in Cairns, Cunnamulla, Geraldton, Perth. They might only be 10 and 5 and maybe a couple of hundred at the others but they are all talking the same.

Stay strong stay true!

Friday, January 25, 2008


As part of its program of 21st Century socialism the Venezuelan Government, under President Hugo Chavez, is recognising the enormous cultural contribution of Indigenous peoples and is working to assure their place in the future of national social, political, and economic life. The Venezuelan Government acknowledges the injustices faced by Indigenous communities and an effort is now being made to repay the historical debt owed to them.

26 different Indigenous groups exist in Venezuela today, around 535,000 people, or about 2.1% of the national population and are known in their own languages as the Wayúu, Warao, Pemón, Añú, Yanomami, Jivi, Piaroa, Kariña, Pumé, Yecuana, Yukpa, Eñepá, Kurripakao, Barí, Piapoko, Baré, Baniva, Puinave, Yeral, Jodi, Kariná, Warekena, Yarabana, Sapé, Wanai, and Uruak.

In 2002 the Venezuelan Government changed the name of Columbus Day to


Chapter 8 of the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution establishes a framework for Indigenous rights. It begins with Article 119, which reads:

The State recognizes the existence of native peoples and communities, their social, political and economic organization, their cultures, practices and customs, languages and religions, as well as their habitat and original rights to the lands they ancestrally and traditionally occupy, and which are necessary to develop and guarantee their way of life.

Constitutional guarantees regarding Indigenous rights also include:
- the use of natural resources
- respect for ethnic and cultural identity
- the exercise of traditional economic practices
- protection of intellectual property
- the right to political participation.

One element of the constitution guarantees Indigenous peoples "the right to their own education, and an education system of an intercultural and bilingual nature, taking into account their special social and cultural characteristics, values and traditions."


Creating opportunities for Indigenous participation in democracy in Venezuela has been a priority of the current government. The 1999 Constitution requires that the National Assembly, Venezuela's lawmaking body, must include Indigenous representatives. Like the other 164 members of the National Assembly, three Indigenous representatives are elected though a popular vote among their constituencies. Indigenous community leaders helped draft the section of the constitution on indigenous rights.

Communal councils provide a model for local government that is energising citizen participation in Venezuela. These organizations allow community members to identify and solve problems in their own communities, and get financial support from the government to do so. In indigenous areas, the communal councils provide a new format for organization around the principles of democratic citizenship.

  • Mission Guaicaipuro, named for an Indigenous leader who resisted Spanish Colonial rule, was launched on October 12, 2003. The mission is a government-funded program that seeks to restore communal land titles and human rights to Venezuela's numerous indigenous communities, in addition to defending those rights against resource and financial speculation by the dominant culture.
  • Mission Identity is a massive citizenship and voter registration campaign which has given millions of Venezuelans national ID cards, including almost 274,000 Indigenous persons. With the granting of ID cards, they were able to exercise full citizenship rights – state benefits, constitutional protections – for the first time. This is just one way in which the state is attempting to undo past injustices that have kept Indigenous populations outside of democratic structures.

As globalisation has come to affect all cultures throughout the world, Venezuela has emerged as a leader in the effort to make Indigenous rights a truly international cause.

Indigenous organising at the national level in Venezuela began in 1989, when the National Indigenous Council (CONIVE) was founded to protect traditional lands and defend Indigenous sovereignty against unbridled industrial and commercial development. CONIVE now incorporates 60 organizations and representatives from 32 Indigenous groups in Venezuela. It has begun to work with other native groups in South America to discuss advocacy strategies and create international pressure to preserve indigenous lands and rights.

Since 2003, Venezuela has hosted an annual International Encounter of Resistance and Solidarity of Indigenous and Peasant Peoples. Moreover, in August of 2007, Venezuela hosted the First International Meeting of Anti-Imperialist Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, in which delegates from 45 different countries participated.


Under President Chavez, Venezuela has seen unprecedented collaboration between the state and Indigenous communities. For example, the National Telecommunications Commission is training young people from 10 different ethnic groups in the Amazon region and other rural areas to produce community media. Infrastructure was provided in October of 2007 to enable radio broadcasts in native languages on 8 new radio stations that will be networked with the public Venezuelan National Radio. This and other initiatives are helping to promote indigenous culture.

In June 2006, CONIVE's "First National March of the Indigenous People" expressed solidarity with the policies of President Chavez. The orientation of the Chavez government, which is focused around giving value to history and the principles of equality, justice, and solidarity with all peoples, is a boast to the struggle for Indigenous rights in Venezuela and around the world. Noeli Pocaterra, an indigenous rights activist from the Wayúu community and a member of the Venezuelan National Assembly has said, “Simon Bolivar, the first liberator, gave back the lands, the best lands, to the original inhabitants. But President Chavez is the first president to ever do this to dispossessed Indigenous.”

To find out more on how Venezuela is changing its society for the better and to support their revolution contact the:
Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network
Ph) (07) 3831 2644 or 0401 586 923

Monday, January 21, 2008

No more invasions - Justice NOW!
10am, Saturday January 26th
Rally at State parliament (George St), march to Musgrave Park

Turn back Howard and Brough's racist legacy!
- Reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act
- Indigenous empowerment not military intervention in NT and Qld
- End welfare quarantines and compulsory land acquisition
- End black deaths in custody
- Real compensation for stolen wages and stolen generations
- Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs

ALL WELCOME. For further information:
Phone Sam Watson 0401 227 443