Friday, April 15, 2011
Yesterday 15 April 2011 - 25 police arrested 8 camp members: a further 12 people have since been arrested for trepass with no signs of when the conflict will stop. The day before this Jim Everett, respected Tasmanian Aboriginal activist writer, filmmaker, sent an email letter across Australia (and internationally) asking for support to protect this significant Tasmanian Aboriginal site. I post his letter in full and ask all readers to re-post it across their networks. Also visit The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre's website to learn more about the campaign and give your support.
"Friday 15th April looks like being a very important day in our history and our struggle for respect of who we are, and respect for our culture and heritage. The Tasmanian Government is about to destroy the mumirimina-kutalayna heritage along the Jordon River. Kutalayna holds the Tasmanian Aboriginal community’s history of over 40,000 years. Today, Friday 15th April, our community and our supporters will be at kutalayna to defend our heritage left by our Old People. Constructing a bridge over kutalayna exposes the current Tasmanian Government’s disrespect for our heritage, and our community. Premier Lara Giddings knows that the bridge will destroy the cultural and historical integrity of kutalayna: she dismisses Tasmanian Aboriginal community knowledge about kutalayna boundaries to save 20 seconds of driving time for traffic entering and leaving Hobart. Premier Giddings has a reasonable option to re-route the bypass over the existing bridge to the north, and along and around kutalayna.
Over 40,000 years of Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage, a unique record of human experiences covering at least 2 Ice-ages, is about to be seriously interfered with. Yet we continue Our Struggle for respect and rights inherent in who we are. This has serious consequences for our community. We believe that the police will arrive today to order supporters away from the kutalayna camp, or arrest the people who refuse to leave: supporters and ‘activists’ standing strong as one body to defend kutalayna. Our action will be a passive and send a clear message to the Government that our heritage is not a bargaining tool. Promises of replacing the out-dated Aboriginal Relics Act 1975 with stronger protection laws of our heritage can’t seriously be considered a bargain for agreeing to the destruction of our heritage. Kutalayna, is our oldest ‘library’ book, it holds the stories of our Old People going back over 40,000 years. Our community has suffered many years of destruction to our heritage since Invasion Day: we must make a stand now, leaving it to our grand-children, and theirs’, must not be allowed to happen.
The issue in focus at kutalayna brings a strong opportunity for developing better relationships between the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and white-Tasmania. To make this happen, a genuine demonstration of meaningful progress in respecting our culture and heritage must be shown by the Tasmanian Government.
I know that we all have hoped that after all of the many years we have struggled to be acknowledged as the contemporary Tasmanian Aboriginal Community; with our objective to be genuinely respected for who we are, and with respect of our rights as Aboriginal people: and, after significant agreements have been achieved with previous Tasmanian Governments: our hope has been that we would not again be forced to to protect our heritage from destruction by a Tasmanian Government. The progress we have achieved in relationships between white-Tasmania and our community, encouraged by previous Tasmanian Governments, is being trashed by Premier Giddings’ Government. Whatever active part you play now, urgently, to increase pressure on the Government to stop the threats to kutalayna, may open some positive outcome for our community.
To be short, we are demanding respect by all of Tasmania, represented by the Tasmanian Government, of our rights concerning the protection of our heritage. I ask you to encourage others to come to the kutalayna camp and show support in saving our heritage from this pending threat."