Why the sacred fire is important to everyone

BCC puts out sacred fire
Brisbane City Council (BCC) puts out sacred fire

A week ago, Jagera elder, Kevin, was kicked out of his housing commission home. Tonight Kevin is in jail for re-lighting the sacred fire.

A little after noon today, West End police arrested a traditional owner of Musgrave Park. Policewoman Luskin and policeman Keene acted under the direction of Sgt Brock Murphy, the officer-in–charge. A 62-year man was arrested along with the traditional owner by policeman Jason Zuanetti and policewoman, Moran.  Later at 5 pm, the two were arrested for a second time, and taken to the police watchouse.

Prior to arrest, police asked Jagera elder, Kevin, if he intended to prevent Brisbane City Council officers from putting out the sacred fire. He said that he would. Maurie Tolley supported Kevin. Police then asked Kevin whether he would re-light the sacred fire when he was released. Kevin said that he would re-light the sacred fire. Police then told Kevin that it would be a condition of his bail not to re-light the sacred fire. Kevin said that he would ignore the bail condition.

Time of Kevin and  Maurie Tolley’s release is currently not known.

It is likely that they will be detained all night, especially if they refuse to sign the bail condition. They were both arrested for obstructing Brisbane City Council officers in their attempt to put out the sacred fire.

The arrest of the traditional owner, Kevin, and his supporter, Maurie, was unlawful. So was the subsequent detention in a paddy wagon near Jagera Hall in Musgrave Park. The subsequent arrest and detention were also unlawful.

No convictions have been recorded from previous arrest of that traditional owner or his supporters while practicing his culture in Musgrave Park.

Deed of Grant in Trust
Deed of Grant in Trust

One year ago 35 people were arrested defending the sacred fire near an old bora ring in Musgrave Park. The charges were dropped. Three people were arrested on Deed-of-Grant-in-Trust land (DOGIT) in November 2102. The three were found ‘not guilty’.

A little after noon today (29 April 2013) Brisbane City Council rapid response officers, Michael and Alex, put out the sacred fire and took away the embassy tent.

The tent was on land designated for aboriginal purpose and for no other purpose whatsoever. Tent embassy people have maintained the sacred fire, which is part of that purpose. Tent embassy weekly meetings (on Wednesdays at 6pm) around that fire is the sole decision making body of the sovereignty movement in Brisbane. These meetings support the claim of the Jagera people to Musgrave Park.

The arrest of the traditional owner is an abuse of process using powers of arrest established by the Bligh Labor government to convey the two to the Roma Street City watchouse. No infringement notices were issued against the two charged. Instead a third person was told he would be issued with an infringement notice like this Infringement Notice used against Sacred Fire

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Neither the traditional owner nor supporters will give up the struggle for sovereignty over Musgrave Park.

All are welcome to attend tent embassy meetings and their views will be respected.

Musgrave Park is Jagera land.

Late last year, Alderman Quirk said that he would allow the tent embassy on the Deed-of-Grant-in-Trust lease set aside by the state government in 1999 to build an aboriginal cultural centre. The cultural centre was never built. The current Liberal National Party government have confiscated the funds and the plans to build the cultural centre shelved. The tent embassy has used the DOGIT land to carry on smoking ceremonies, dance, meetings, educational gatherings and spiritual practice. No one is excluded.

A tent embassy spokesperson has called on people to support the two arrested by coming to the tent embassy in Musgrave Park at tomorrow at 10am  (Tuesday 30 April 2013). The tent embassy is located near Jagera Arts Hall at 121 Cordelia Street South Brisbane.

Supporters of the tent embassy must demand kevin and maurie’s release and their return to musgrave park – Jagera elder Kevin must be permitted to re-light the sacred fire without restriction.

Musgrave Park is a traditional gathering place for aboriginal people

Aboriginal society is based around the circle of the fire.

This particular sacred fire was lit when the tent embassy in Canberra was set up in 1972. Jason, a son of the one of the original  tent embassy four brought the ashes to musgrave park in South Brisbane on 26 March 2012.  Brisbane City Council keeps putting out the sacred fire. The sacred fire has been relit time and time again.

Every time they put out the sacred fire, it hurts that much more …

Ian Curr
29 April 2013

Postscript: On the following day (30 April, 2013) the traditional owner, Kevin, was arrested again along with Wayne Wharton and Hamish Chitts. Kevin has now been arrested 3 times in 24 hours. He has been detained unlawfully for nearly 7 hours. The magistrate told this Jagera man at 3 pm today that he will be jailed if he returns to his ancestral lands in Musgrave Park.

This episode in the battle for Musgrave Park is reminiscent of the struggles for land rights in 1982:-

Short History of the struggle for the sacred fire

Quirk meeting to try and shut embassy down 5Dec

46.50 Quirk asks, what is the future? Community says need to keep the fire.

 Wayne (Coco) Wharton defends Musgrave Park sacred fire

1.30 That is not a fire. That is a ceremonial tool. It’s part of our religion.

2.20 Don’t desecrate it or we will be forced to defend it.

We will run our country again

Background to Wayne (Coco) Wharton and Aboriginal Sovereignty


Sovereignty is an Australian issue

0.00 Permission for embassy

0.55- role of the embassy

Sam Watson on Sovereignty and the eviction

1.15 No threat to Paniyiri

1.43 Police eviction

2.35 call for action to confront Campbell Newman

3.47 Reason for embassy

4.19 The struggle continues – fire and the spirit of Musgrave park

 Embassy Protest

0.37 Images of eviction

0.50 Campbell Newman calls the embassy “Squatters camps”

1.30 Police response – need to rebuild relationships

2.03 Cultural Centre promise by Lord Mayor

3 thoughts on “Why the sacred fire is important to everyone

  1. Queen's declaration on Musgrave Park says:

    The State of Queensland
    Land Act 1994 Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Australia, and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth:-

    WE (meaning the Crown) with the advice of the Executive Council (see below), under the Land Act 1994 (introduced by the Goss Labor Government), grant in fee simple (freehold) all that parcel of land described in Schedule 1 (see map) to the person described in Schedule 2 (Brisbane City Council), in trust, subject to the trust, reservations and conditions specified, and such other reservation and conditions as may be contained in and declared by the laws of the State.

    Schedule of Trusts
    The grantee (Brisbane City Council) is to hold the land in trust FOR ABORIGINAL AND FOR NO OTHER PURPOSE WHATSOEVER.

    NB: The executive council includes the Premier, the Deputy Premier and the Attorney-General. They advise the Governor as representative of the Queen on the use of executive power.

  2. Brisbane Sovereign Tent Embassy says:

    Press release
    April 30, 2013

    Jagera elder arrested again for maintaining sacred fire

    Jagera elder Kevin Arjin Warrugar has been arrested at the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy and is being held in custody at the Roma St Watch house.

    On Monday afternoon, brother Kevin was arrested for maintaining the sacred fire and charged with obstructing police. His bail conditions restricted him from attending the Embassy on his own land.

    He returned to the Embassy this morning to re-light the sacred fire and has been arrested for breach of bail.https://www.facebook.com/notes/brisbane-aboriginal-sovereign-embassy/jagera-elder-arrested-again-for-maintaining-sacred-fire/190261401124038

  3. Murri bus on May Day says:

    A murri bus coming to Musgrave Park on Sunday 5th to take Stolen Wages people & any interested others on the Labour Day march.

    The bus will be on the Greek club side of the park, I think, at 8.00 or 8.30am. Details are available from the Stolen Wages mob who have their meetings on Thursdays.

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