Human Rights Rally — 13 December 2008, Queens Park Brisbane

Together with the images taken from the rally are two poems that were recited at the rally.

To hear an audio of the rally click below and be patient.

Sam-Watson’s- speech-on-human-rights — where Sam  points out that little has been achieved since the UN declaration of human rights in 1948!

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The first poem was by the son of the first aboriginal man to win a gold medal for Australia. And the second was by a trade unionist who spoke at the rally.

I belong to this land
But you came and took her
And left me to die
Into your world you took me
But I must never cry

Before you came
I was immune to your material race
For I was happy and I belonged
To this, my native place

You showed me greedy ways of life, loathing
I have never been before
Also, violent wars and strife
A world that you adore

Though gospel preach
Thou shalt not kill
You say your god is true?

But why did you do this?
To my people?
Which I will never do to you

So let me get some atom bombs
And play a christian game.
If Jesus Christ came back today
On who would he lay this blame.
Like atoms we are forced to live
Devoid of pride and race
Spite and self-denial
Is all from yours, you gave.

I do not wish priority
But simple human rights
To live as my ancestors did
In peace and not in fights.

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Before you came
I was immune to your material race
For I was happy and I belonged
To this, my native place

You showed me greedy ways of life, loathing
I have never been before
Also, violent wars and strife
A world that you adore

Though gospel preach
Thou shalt not kill
You say your god is true?

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But why did you do this?
To my people?
Which I will never do to you

So let me get some atom bombs
And play a christian game.
If Jesus Christ came back today
On who would he lay this blame.
Like atoms we are forced to live
Devoid of pride and race
Spite and self-denial
Is all from yours, you gave.

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I do not wish priority
But simple human rights
To live as my ancestors did
In peace and not in fights.

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The second poem recited by the trade union comrade went as follows:

True owners and caretakers of this land
This wonderful, wonderful sun kissed land
How proud you make us for what you stand
You stand against the oppressor’s hand.

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Those who rape and plunder your earth
All in the name of the dollars worth
Your culture, your life, your children gone
Little wonder you feel so degraded and worn
For the oppressor only knows one kind of wealth
That of greed for his own oneself.

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This, true owners and caretakers of this land
This wonderful, wonderful sun-kissed land
How proud you make us for what you stand
You stand against the oppressor’s hand.

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And like your great dream-time
Others too, can hope and dream
That the might of right will overcome
This avarice greed so openly done.

— Poem recited at Human Rights Rally by two trade union comrades

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6 responses to “Human Rights Rally — 13 December 2008, Queens Park Brisbane

  1. Mark, thanks for responding to my questions.

    Firstly, I acknowledge that ARC has provided a platform for Barbara Shaw and others in the campaign against the NT intervention, although I question how effective this platform has been. Barbara has been most effective in other areas such as media appearences, report writing and speaking on behalf of her own community. I don’t think ARC has really helped her much.

    I do not see a movement that is broadening out but one that has been reduced and marginalised by by the shallow and one dimensional protest agenda of ARC, manifesting in pathetic dispays of weakness such as the Dec 13 rally and the protests at Rudd and Bligh’s offices.

    As we have discussed before, I feel using the intervention and the NT voices to justify the campaign against the Cape York trial and FRC has been counter productive, resulting in ARC protesting against the Cape York Elders and councils.

    Have you yet been able to find one single person from the 4 communities affected by the FRC that oppose the FRC? or is the opinion of activists from elsewhere sufficient to intervene into Cape York politics as ARC has done?

    Here in Queensland, Aboriginal communities and organisations have been struggling with the state government on a whole range of issues. The interventionist mode, copied by Brough and Howard in the NT, was pioneered by the Beattie government who systematically disempowered Aboriginal councils and unilaterally imposed a series of Alcohol prohibition regimes across the state. Grog laws has been the only Qld. indigenous policy of the state government for a decade (until the Cape York trial) and the single agency to deliver indigenous policy was the police force. Mulrunji’s death was a direct consequence of the State’s grog laws.

    To date, ARC has ignored the Qld, intervention mode and focussed only on opposing the hard won gains of the Cape York Aboriginal people,

    Here in Brisbane, every night in the Valley, Aboriginal people are systemattically targeted, arrested and often bashed for drinking in public while white “diners” sip their fine wines and boutique beers on the footpath.

    In South Brisbane, the organisation of local Murris, the Musgrave Park Aboriginal Corporation, which ran hostels and a day centre providing meals, medical service and a range of supports was closed down and a portion of their funding was given to white welfare agencies to provide sandwhiches in the park and a medical service that operates out of the public toilets in Boundary St.

    Murri Watch was started as a mechanism to stop Aboriginal people ending up in police custody by monitering places where Aboriginal people congregate and solving problems, including providing a diversionary centre, without the police getting involved. Today, as a funding requirement, it has become an extension of police watchhouse procedures and only gets involved after a person has been arrested. It mops up after the police rather than keeping the police away from Aboriginal people,

    The Kowanyama, Cherbourg and Palm Island councils are presently in a public fight with the State government about their right to make decisions about their own communities.

    Aboriginal housing money has been used in Woorabinda as a lever to get the council to support State government grog laws – if they dont support the grog laws they dont get the housing money.

    Traditional owners across the state are not only being denied access to their land but are being cut out of all decision making processes about their land, The recent Wild Rivers legislation offers compensation and involvement to all forms of land title – except native title, it breaches the racial discriminattion act as much as the NT intervention does.

    Murri-courts provide incentives to Aboriginal people to plead guilty and only serves to fast-track (minimise costs) the systematic criminalisation of Aboriginal people.

    Yet ARC has not been able to apply itself to any of these Queensland issues (except to protest against Aboriginal will in Cape York).

    “Oppose the intervention” is a totally inadequate focus for the Aboriginal struggle in Qld (and I suspect in the NT too).

    There will be no change from the parliament, even with the Greens. A basic analysis of colonisation will tell us that the invading state cannot provide justice for the invaded, colonised society.

    An extra-parliamentary movement whose sole purpose is protest in order to lobby the white state will be no more effective than parliamentarism if it acknowledges the white state as the agency of change for Aboriginal people.

    Political and economic self determination is the only strategy for change. Nothing will be given from the good will of the white state, the only achievements are those which can be taken by way of power in real terms.

    Aboriginal Self determination is not a slogan, campaign demand or policy framework, it is a modus operandi.

    If ARC is serious about supporting the Aboriginal struggle then it must apply resources and labour to supporting Aboriginal structures and leaderships on their own terms and agendas. At present all ARC does is include token Aboriginal voices into a predominantly white ideology and program of action.

    It is easy to focus on a few shallow slogans that reinforce the ideology of white activists. It is much more difficult to engage in meaningfull ways with Aboriginal power, it requires much discussion and exploration and a willingness to let go of many ideological sacred cows.

    How do you think ARC is, or could be, relevant to the Aboriginal struggle in Queensland or Brisbane? How do you think the protests help?

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  2. John asks

    1. “what sort of change is possible?”

    A. I think that depends on how successful those of us who oppose the intervention are of convincing others to oppose it and what strategies are adopted.

    2. “What are you proposing to do in order to bring about…..”?

    A. Some of the more successful things so far has been to organise platforms for Barbara and Luke Shaw and others to speak out against the intervention. Barbara spoke at the Students of Sustainability Conference and convinced a small layer of environmental activists to get more active opposing the intervention. There will be a convergence on Canberra for the opening of the next sitting of Parliament which Barbara and others from the NT will be attending. Getting more people to that convergence would be step forward.

    3. “How are you going to organise”?

    A. I personally think an extra parliamentary movement is the most effective way to organise, however, I’m sure that if the campaign broadens out there will be other ideas about how to bring about change (get behind the Greens for example). These issues will have to be debated out but it seems a more pressing question is convincing people to take a clear stand against the intervention and it extension into other areas.

    Mark

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  3. Hello John,

    Not being a member of Solidarity and having attended only a few Aboriginal Rights Coalition [ARC] organising meetings I do not feel qualified to speak on the objectives of ARC (or Solidarity).

    Why don’t you attend their meetings and ask them yourself (if you are interested I can put you in touch with their contact persons).

    However I would make this general observation.

    When you look objectively at the past 4 years, since the death of mulrunji and since the onset of WorkChoices, neither ‘aboriginal australia’ (as you put it) nor working class australians are any better off.

    Politically there is no organised alternative to the existing mainstream parties – not one of whom have any practical solutions to the many issues facing us.

    I might add that finding that alternative is not a question so much of ideas which abound; it is lack finding a process where we can communicate, build solidarity and, most importantly, build political organisation both of Murris and of workers.

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  4. Ian,

    In response to Solidarity’s campaign about ABC and childcare, you ask some important questions about what Solidarity hopes to achieve and how.
    https://bushtelegraph.wordpress.com/2008/12/07/solidarity-public-forum-whats-the-future-for-childcare/

    May I ask the same questions of you in relation to the Dec 13 rally and similar protests?

    What sort of change is possible ……..?

    What are you proposing to do in order to bring about ………….?

    How are you going to organise……………?

    As far as I can see, this event and the whole ARC agenda has only served the interests of the Marxist groups and been totally irrelevant to the struggles of Aboriginal Australia.

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  5. The people were under the trees in the shade from where I shot the photos).

    As I stated in my report of the rally not a lot of people turned up.

    But it was a good and responsive crowd of supporters who listened to about 10 speakers. The speeches, poems and songs were an insight into how indigenous people in Qld feel about what happened both here and the Northern Territory. For example did you know that the NT government has effectively ended bilingual education in schools, compelling indigenous kids to learn English solely, even though for most English is not their first language.

    At the rally on 13 Dec 2008 it was about 37 degrees centigrade (in the shade) and, soon after the rally ended, a violent storm swept across the river and into Queens Park curtailing an organising meeting that took place after the speakers had finished.

    My full report including what each speaker said can be found at https://bushtelegraph.wordpress.com/2008/10/27/free-lex-wotton-petition/#comment-5806

    Ian Curr
    24 Dec 2008

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  6. Where are all the people?

    Like

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