Sunday, January 18, 2009

Kokatha refuse BHP expansion and denounce Native Title "Mining Company Agents"

(Yankunytjatjara, Antikarinya and Kokatha people's joint protest in 2003 against a proposed radioactive waste dump on their lands, above).

The Kokatha have issued the following STATEMENT re: BHP Billiton & South Australian Native Title.

(For the benefit of overseas readers, Australia has two sets of legislation granting certain rights to indigenous traditional landowners. Land rights schemes are established under state legislation, and in the case of the Northern Territory, under Commonwealth or national law. Native title is a set of rights or interests over land or waters established under the national Native Title Act 1993 and granted by the Federal Court . It cannot be granted over freehold title, and pastoralists, miners, local governments, industries and community groups with an interest in an area that is subject to Native Title can apply to the Federal Court to become a party to a native title claim. They can then participate in litigation and negotiations with the holders of the Native Title. Where there is a conflict between a native title group and another party with valid rights and interests, native title legislation gives priority to the rights of the non-native title party. On July 1, 2008 a new body, the South Australian Native Title Services took over from the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement's Native Title Unit as the body approved by the Native Title Act 1993 to carry out the functions of the Act. One critic has said of the Native Title Act that its "real nature (is as) an act which has been designed from the outset to fast-trek corporate profits and divide and poison communities. This act is an atrocious attack on the indigenous people of Australia and will one day be relegated to the sad and sorry pages of our ongoing colonial and conquistorial style history." In what follows, the mining operation referred to is the Olympic Dam copper, gold and uranium mine at Roxby Downs which BHP Billiton wants to change from its current underground operation to a vastly expanded open cut operation.)

Dear Media Editors:

Kokatha have denied their signatures to BHP Billiton for both an open cut and an expansion.

Kokatha denounced Native Title who are not appointed to speak for Kokatha or their lands.

Native Title are not recognised by the Kokatha.

Native Title have been notified of the above in writing and have continued to conspire with mining companies and collect “people” claiming to be related to Kokatha. A meeting was staged on the 14th December 2008 with participants allegedly willing to accept payment in exchange for some signatures on Kokatha land, for BHP Billiton.

Individuals who attempt to sign on Kokatha lands are not Kokatha. Any Native Title negotiations with any Kokatha person, past or present are undoubtedly coerced as noone understands Native Title.

The legitimacy of any illegal “work-arounds” is disputed by the traditional Kokathas. For many decades Kokatha have sought that the original terms of the “no open cut requirement”, be adhered to.

It is well documented that the Kokatha have opposed the open cut and expansion since time immemorial. This was the wishes of our grandfathers and father, who specified, no open cut was to take place. Kokatha will continue to uphold these laws. This defiance and cultural impropriety on our lands is not acceptable to the Kokatha.

(Kokatha People's Community camp in 1997 protest against the opening of Olympic Dam/Roxby Downs.)

Native Title have encouraged substitute, self appointed spokespersons, young elders, a variety of “traditional owners” and “lawmakers” with unrelated geneologies to attempt fraudulent signatures. Signatures on behalf of Kokatha have already been forged. Native Title are a vexation to the Kokatha.

“Kokatha’s geneology follows our great, great grand-father’s ancestoral line in Aboriginal culture. Native Title has disrespectfully attempted to introduce a deceased Arrente grandmother into Kokatha lineage which will cheat our culture in favour of BHP Billiton. This is not our custom and is not acceptible”, said Isabelle Dingaman for the Kokatha.

“The Native Title process, recently slated as needing an overhaul is an unneccesary organisation”, said Ms Dingaman. “They have nothing to do with us. Choose your preference blackfellow and go that way. Aboriginal people do not ‘sell-out’ ancestoral lands”.

“The Kokatha are sovereigns of this land and will choose how we speak. We will speak in public”.

“No more secret meetings and false announcements. We will now discuss in the open, in front of the people, Ms Dingman stated”.

Kokatha state that Native Title have attempted to alter tradition and have published maps with reduced boundaries in order to obtain substitute signatures for mining companies and gains for their government’s nuclear projects.

“Native Title “materialised” 15 years ago as an attempt at government control of aboriginal assets, after the Mabo success”, Ms Dingaman stated.

Aboriginal people have never offered their land to mining companies or other projects.
Maralinga, was our lesson and is a prime example of reckless and long term environmental damage sustained to aboriginal lands and people, including your own white communities, Native Title have no authority to attempt alteration of our history, geneology or land areas. Native Title may not touch our business. You have betrayed our trust.

The horror that followed Maralinga has not been forgotten by the Kokatha and we remain united.”

Ms Dingaman warns communities using underground water for drinking to insist on RADON testing now, before it is too late.

“We continue to suffer radiation poisoning and do not wish to see other innocent people subjected to this slow genocide and terminal illnesses”.

Ms. Dingaman says she doesn’t believe there is any more respect for white people than there is for the aborigines. This water is contaminated and everyone has a right to legitimate testing”.

“What do these people expect after Maralinga and now three uranium mines operating near them”, Ms Dingaman said, Radon testing must be done.

“You ignore this poison being leached into the waterways because it’s invisible. You need to demand tests independently or you and your children will become sick as we did.”

“Your governments thirst for nuclear and power has stolen this country’s water. They are out of control and you must speak up and demand that this madness stops.”

Isabelle Dingaman (Executive Member) on behalf of Kokatha

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gaza will not go down!

More than one thousand people rallied at the steps of Parliament House, Adelaide, on Sunday January 11 2009 to condemn Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip.

The rally was organised by the Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA) .

Speakers included AFOPA Chairperson Paul Heywood-Smith, QC; SA Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young; AFOPA public advocate Michael Shaik; and SA Independent MP Kris Hanna.

Heywood-Smith (left) stressed that AFOPA’s opposition was to the human massacre being perpetrated by the Israelis and welcomed people from various political persuasions, from churches, mosques and synagogues. He referred people to the website for a list of companies whose products should be boycotted in support of the Palestinian people.

The names of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Deputy PM Julia Gillard drew jeers as speakers pointed out their failure to condemn Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip. Widespread agreement expressed through applause occurred after reference to the role of the United States as the prime backer of Israeli aggression.

(AFOPA spokesperson Michael Shaik, above)

Leaflets were distributed condemning the SA Government for encouraging the establishment of a partnership between US armaments giant Raytheon and a public high school at Aberfoyle Park. Raytheon will pay the school $150,000 per year for the next three years in return for access to students enrolled in its “students with high intellectual potential” program. It will mentor these students with the aim of recruiting them to help produce the next generation of military communications systems, missiles, bunker bombs, microwave ray guns and the like.

(Information on the APHS-Raytheon connection can be found at: , a video clip, and an article)

(Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young addressing the rally, above).

The militant Song for Gaza was sung at the rally. Like the famous “They shall not pass”, which expressed the determination of the Spanish people to fight the fascists during the Spanish Civil War, the phrase “We will not go down” expresses the determination of the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip to defy the Zionist occupation forces and their fascist oppression of the people:

Blinding flash of white light
Lit up the sky over Gaza tonight
People running for cover
Not knowing whether they’re dead or alive

They came with their tanks and their planes
With ravaging fiery flames
And nothing remains
Just a voice rising up in the smoky haze:

We will not go down
In the night, without a fight
You can burn up our mosques and our homes and our schools
But our spirit will never die
We will not go down
In Gaza tonight

Women and children alike
Murdered and massacred night after night
While the so-called leaders of countries afar
Debated on who’s wrong or right

But their powerless words were in vain
And the bombs fell down like acid rain
But through the tears and the blood and the pain
You can still hear that voice through the smoky haze:

We will not go down
In the night, without a fight
You can burn up our mosques and our homes and our schools
But our spirit will never die
We will not go down
In Gaza tonight

We will not go down
In the night, without a fight
You can burn up our mosques and our homes and our schools
But our spirit will never die

We will not go down
In the night, without a fight

We will not go down
In Gaza tonight

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Israeli aggressors, out of Gaza!

Like a thief in the night, as much of the Western world slept its way through the annual season of peace and goodwill, the Zionist state of Israel launched an attack on the Gaza Strip.

The ostensible reason for this act of aggression was to stop the Hamas authorities in Gaza launching homemade missiles into southern Israel.

The real reason is that Zionism, a modern political movement created by Theodore Herzl and others in the late 1800s, is inherently incapable of accepting Palestinians as equals because its immediate impact is to deprive them of their land and to set up Zionist Jews as occupiers of Palestinian territory.

All of the contemporary conflict in the Middle East comes down to this one simple statement of fact: “Israel” is Occupied Palestine.

It is to the eternal shame of Zionism that it has created Israel’s own version of the Warsaw Ghetto in the Gaza Strip.

When, in 1943, the Jews of that wretched place fought back against the enforced starvation and medical and other deprivations imposed by the occupying Nazis, the latter systematically destroyed the buildings and infrastructure of the Ghetto, accusing the Jewish resistance fighters of using children as food smugglers and shields. They murdered resistance fighters and civilians alike.

Jews should never have to go through such an obscene experience again, and nor should they put other people though it either.

The political doctrine of Zionism was understandably attractive to many of the survivors of the Holocaust. However, it is not and never will be, sustainable. The occupied and oppressed cannot become the occupiers and oppressors without paying a terrible price, if only in terms of their own humanity.

Non-Zionist Jews such as the heroic young Shministim who refuse to be called up into the Israeli Army are the hope for peace in the Middle East.

Tamar Katz (right) is one such Shministim. She is 19 and lives in Tel-Aviv, capital of Israel. She has been jailed three times for refusing to be drafted into the Israeli Army.

Tamar says, “I refuse to enlist in the Israeli military on conscientious grounds. I am not willing to become part of an occupying army, that has been an invader of foreign lands for decades, which perpetuates a racist regime of robbery in these lands, tyrannizes civilians and makes life difficult for millions under a false pretext of security.”

Hers is a courageous statement in a state founded on the arrogant claim that the Jews are the “chosen people of God” and that “Israel is the land given by God to the Jews”. Only the arrogance of a claim to genetic or racial superiority can come close to such a preposterous notion as that of the “chosen of God”. But the behaviour that emanates from both is the same.

Secular friendship and understanding between Muslims, Christians and Jews, and between Palestinians and Israelis will eventually see a relaxation of tension and a resolution of conflict.

In the meantime, the occupied Palestinians have the right and duty to resist their occupiers.

Israeli aggressors, out of Gaza!


For more information on the Shminstim, see: