By Emily Contador-Kelsall
Around 2,000 protesters gathered at Belmore Park last Friday April 10 to unite against the controversial decision to forcibly close Aboriginal communities in Western Australia.
Protesters in Sydney’s march walked from Belmore Park near Central to the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Marchers not only condemned the forced closure of Aboriginal communities in Western Australia but also used the movement to stand against the development of ‘The Block’ in Redfern.
Across social media, protesters who were present last week have reported that approximately 2,000 attended the protest despite rain, with 4,800 people saying they attended on the Facebook event.
Aunty Jenny Munro, who helped establish the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy, opened the protest as a “call to arms across Australia” to stop the “sickness” and “disease” of racism.
“We’re here today to tell [the government] we continue to resist, we continue to fight,” she said last Friday .
“This is our time to take our country back”.
Last month, Prime Minister Tony Abbott supported the West Australian government’s decision to relocate more than 100 remote Indigenous communities. This decision has come under sharp criticism nationwide.
Similarly, in Sydney, the Aboriginal Housing Company’s plans to develop ‘The Block’ at Redfern have attracted fierce opposition, evident in the Redfern Tent Embassy Ms Munro worked to establish in protest.
Ebony Hill, an Indigenous woman from Western Australia spoke to the crowd gathered at Belmore Park about the current experiences of the Indigenous communities in Western Australia. Ms Hill called the closure of communities “the third wave of dispossession” and spoke of land justice issues the Indigenous population face across the nation today, notably at Redfern.
“Here we are seeing a third wave of colonisation,” she said.
“As we see nationwide there is a development agenda when it comes to Indigenous people and their land, where profit and development comes before community and before culture and before people.”
“Gina Rinehart has just started buying land around most of the communities that are proposed to be shut down to open up the flood gates of fracking.”