Gerry Georgatos The Rally for Justice in Forrest Place, Perth, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth attracted hundreds of police, including horseback units and other armoury, and the Police Commissioner, Karl O'Callaghan himself. However, the rally also attracted 2,000 supporters and the entire mass of the OCCUPY movement.
There were hundreds of Aboriginal activists and human rights campaigners, many Elders and their peoples. The rally for justice and the OCCUPY Perth movement focused on the need for en masse social changes seeking to eliminate Aboriginal disparity and injustices, end racism, free our Asylum Seekers, and to ensure environmental justice and the end of corporate greed.
Nyungar Elder, Ben Taylor opened the rally, and welcomed everyone to his peoples' country. Mr Taylor had refused an earlier invitation from the government and the CHOGM organisers to be part of their Aboriginal welcoming parties because he was not prepared "to be one of their token Aborigines."
The most powerful speaker of the day was Kimberley anti-gas hub campaigner, and recently elected Broome councillor to the first Aboriginal majority council in WA, Dr Anne Poelina. Dr Poelina spoke of people's connection to one another, and of the need to stand up. She spoke of the need for her peoples and others to bring down the proposed gas hub that would decimate James Price Point.
Dr Poelina said, "Those few beneficiaries who mine our lands do not so for resources but mine our lands for money. We must hold on to our values. We must not be divided because we will fall, united we can stand."
"We have seen from the international monetary chaos that the world's market systems are imploding. We must pay attention to this, listen and understand," she said.
Aboriginal rights campaigner, Kado Muir was another rally speaker and said, "We need the peoples of settler society to come together with the peoples of the Aboriginal nations and together we can put to rest the nuclear industry which threatens to tear us all apart."
Speakers from other Commonwealth countries, where grievous injustices plague them, rose to the occasion - from the Congo, Malaysia, Sri Lanka. Malaysian Bersee human rights activist, Dr Chin Huat Wong said, "We want clean elections in our country by 2013, we want democracy. We have come here, and will go wherever we can to make our point, to our brothers and sisters and we believe that our brothers and sisters will believe us."
In Sri Lanka it maybe that 40,000 Tamils were killed by the predominant Sinhalese government last year and in what is being described as genocide. Tamil advocate, Ajanthy Nom said, "The crimes against Tamils in Sri Lanka are far worse than the aggregated crimes of the four countries facing suspension from the Commonwealth."
Nyungar Dennis Simmons, who played didgeridoo for the crowd, said, "All that need for bad things to keep on happening is for good people to keep on doing nothing."
Former Senator Jo Valentine said, "We have war after war, it never solves anything. The killing beasts must stop, and today in war there are more civilian deaths than military deaths. We need to come to the table of peace, and negotiate. We need to talk with one another."
Nyungar activist Marianne Mackay was the last speaker before the march and said she was here to give her own "Sorry Speech". She 'apologised' for the inter-generational poverty of her peoples, she 'apologised' for her people being raped and pillaged, "Today, we say 'Sorry'". She 'apologised' for her peoples having to exist and supposedly burden others.
"My people have always suffered, and even for this CHOGM they suffer. The police swept our peoples out of the parks just like they did with all the homeless. We will march through this town and I ask all of you to march with us. I am seven months pregnant and if I can do it so can you."
A march of 1,500 solemnly took hold of the heart of Perth city's heartland while hundreds of police tried to muster and herald their journey. The marchers slowed the walk and at times came to a halt much to the frustration of the police and to their threats of arrests. At certain police barriers, blocking off parts of the city, there were stand offs.
At the intersection of William and Hays Streets the marchers 'occupied' the area with a sit-in, and the police became flustered, once again threatening arrests however they held off. At the sit-in, surrounded by more than a thousand protestors, Aboriginal activist Isabel Brown read from her writings, "I've been here from the beginning and I'll be here until the end. I come from the dream time and my culture will descend. Our ancient spirits of the land follow us as we roam the land... My people were the first inhabitants of this country. I'm connected to the land and the land connects me... This land is sacred and will be home of the 'Ancient Aborigine.'"
The march resumed and finished up in Forrest Place, where it had begun. At that point the rally for justice was handed over to the Occupy Perth. Speakers were called upon and a General Assembly took place. The Occupy argued that the 1% are who occupy the world's resources, and who are the multinationals, that they occupy the parliaments, and even occupy the skies in that they are the emitters. The Occupy argued that the exclusion zones in Perth are a form of occupation by the 1% and that the 99% should occupy back and send to the CHOGM through the national news media the peoples' message that long overdue social changes are self-evident.
The majority of the crowd voted to Occupy Forrest Place and to camp overnight. The police decided to step back and allow the overnight camping and for the time being not put on the public spectacles of arresting people, of dragging them through streets, of images of bloodied noses and battered bodies as occurred in Sydney and Melbourne.
The major outcome from the expensive CHOGM gathering and pomp was for the Commonwealth countries to agree to abolish a 17th century rule governing the monarchy that will clear the way for a firstborn daughter of Prince William and his partner, Catherine, to become Queen. However, Commonwealth leaders failed on the test of human rights. The centrepiece of planned Commonwealth reforms, the formation of a human rights watchdog was scuttled after foreign affairs ministers fell silent on issues of inequality throughout the Commonwealth and on issues that would highlight human rights abuse allegations.
Anti-uranium walkers who marched 1,200 km from Wiluna to Perth, gather to march into the Rally for Justice and Occupy Perth rallies.
The Aboriginal Flag and Aboriginal contingent to lead the Anti-uranium walkers into the main rally.
Jo Valentine and Ban Uranium mining
Ken Buzzacott holds the flame, lit in Fukishima to lead the Anti-uranium walkers in
Leading the Anti-uranium contingent are Bolivia's Aymara Nation's Mayra Gomez, Aboriginal activist Della Rae Morrison, Navajo Indian Ammon Russell, Aboriginal rights campaigners Ken Buzzacott and Kado Muir
The Anti-Uranium mining protestors are more than 100
The Aboriginal Flag arrives at the Rally for Justice in Forrest Place
Nyungar Elder, Ben Taylor delivers the Welcome To Country for the Rally for Justice and the Occupy Perth
Nyungar Elder, Ben Taylor
Aboriginal rights activist was one of the main speakers at the Rally for Justice
Some of the 2,000 strong crowd at the Rally for Justice
The most powerful speaker of the event, Dr Anne Poelina, Kimberley Aboriginal rights campaigner
Nyungar Dennis Simmons on the digderidoo
Malaysian Bersee speaker, Dr Chin Huat Wong
Tamil banners say it all
The crowd in its thousands
The Bellotti Support Group stall in Forrest Place
One of many police horseback units
One of many police surveillance units recording the event and every face in sight
Elder Ben Taylor leads the 1,500 strong march through Perth
One of many, many police barricades
The Occupy movement and Rally for Justice OCCUPIES during the middle of the march the intersection of William and Hay Streets for a half hour
Refugee advocate, Victoria Martin-Iverson speaks about the plight of our Asylum Seekers
Our children speak, everyone has coalesced for a changing world
An Aboriginal homeless person reading complimentary copies of the National Indigenous Times and who spoke to me in want of a better tomorrow
Thousands came to the Perth rally for Justice and for Occupy Perth
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting was in full swing during its much hyped weekend in Perth, October 28 to 30, with more celebratory events and pomp than outcomes based summits. There was one perceived plenary after another trying to indict the presumption of democracy, and a grassroots one at that however if history is anything to go by very little of the content from the various forums’ long speeches and indulgent yarns by parliamentarians and business ‘leaders’ will see the light of day – there were Indigenous workshops, Youth forums, Business forums, etc.
Importantly, and sadly, one great hope that the CHOGM had intimated long before the event that could transpire and be tentatively formalised at the CHOGM was a Commonwealth Human Rights Commissioner, and the framework that would underwrite it, however it was vanquished by some of the member states, such as Sri Lanka and India prior to the CHOGM. It remains to people, that is people power and cultural waves, to expedite social change so as the prospect of hope flickers – the Occupy movement world-wide is in the very least an inspiring effort to push the most complacent and arrogant of nations towards this, and especially the most affluent nations of the world, that is those nations who harbour most of the 1% that exploits most of the rest of the world. 82 nations, and 962 cities and towns are feeling the inspiration of the Occupy movement – the most inspirational effort, of a cultural wave, since the civil rights movements around the world during the sixties.
750 protestors coalesced at the Occupy Melbourne and 1,000 plus at the Occupy Sydney, of which I was at, to kick off these events and more importantly the visual disseminations to Australians far and wide, and to the hierarchical Australian government - that people power is at our doorstep too, that the potential is there and that people power is not just reserved for perceived dictatorships, for North Africa, the Middle East, etc.
On Saturday 28 October, the CHOGM, at the southern end of the Perth CBD, celebrated with its usual hierarchical and iconoclastic pomp and class warfare its own self, the coming together of heads of government, and they did this by lauding the Queen of the Commonwealth and the monarchy that threads the assumption of the Commonwealth. It is ironic that much of the yarning during the CHOGM, outside of mining resources, trade and the economic welfare and issues, was about democracy and human rights (and of abuses) – and the Queen and the monarchy are the first to advocate and stand alongside ‘democracy’, however it is anathema – if the monarchy believed religiously in ‘democracy’ well then the Queen would abdicate the throne, and the monarchy would vanquish itself, ceasing to exist so ‘democracy’ could replace it – even if all this is symbolic, it is contributing to the underwriting.
On Saturday 28 October, hundreds of metres distant from the Queen’s motorcade and the tens of thousands who gathered to glimpse the pastel colours the Queen forever wears and see some of the ordinary people dressed up as heads of governments, some of them brutal dictators, a couple of thousand protestors swelled and filled Forrest Chase, the heart of Perth City. It was one of the biggest rallies I have ever seen in Perth, and with the balconies and catwalks surrounding Forrest Chase full of people. There were hundreds of police too, some on horseback, and others circling the perimeters and all of them ready for instructions in the event of the need to reign back the civil protestors. Indeed, there were 2,000 protestors and it is appalling that many journalists of the conservative
mainstream news media are describing the numbers in the hundreds or at five hundred – this is just unbelievable – however the YouTubes and other footage clearly dispute their poor, if not intentional, under scoring of the actual numbers.
WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan was on site with his police troops in Forrest Chase watching ever so closely and giving one interview after another to the news media which had gathered en masse to cover the event.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth welcomed various brutal human rights abusers. The capacity for the discovery of the truth is outstripped by the manifest of deceit. The Commonwealth of Australia stands alongside some of the Commonwealth’s great human rights abusers, as Australia continues its maltreatment and abuse and discrimination of many Aboriginal peoples, as Australia degenerates into its own ugly cascade of human rights violations and outright abuses for instance the incarceration of up to 100 of the world’s most impoverished children in Australian adult prisons, the clandestine mandatory detention network of Asylum Seekers which has now taken seven lives, six by suicide, during the last 13 months, with more to occur post-release as the inducted traumas tragically and torturously play out, with Australia’s horrific incarceration rates of its peoples – there has been the doubling of the prison population from 1991 to 2011, and with its forever disregard of Australia’s most impoverished and downtrodden peoples – the ‘wealthiest’ 11 Australians, in mining and banking, earn more than the aggregate annual income of the bottom 850,000 households, which is equivalent to 2 million Australians – if this is not inequality, if this is not discrimination, if this is not the failure and excesses of a capitalism that has forgotten its humanity and its purpose then what it is?
Australia cannot criticise others when it haunts the Australian landscape with a myriad of ugly human rights abuses, and when it consigns itself to open discrimination and racism. Prime Minister Julia Gillard is in the company of Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Tamils turned out in numbers to the Rally for Justice in Forrest Place and to support the Occupy Perth movement. The Australian government respects an individual who led a country where the predominant Sinhalese Army during 2009 shelled hospitals and held back humanitarian aid to people – particularly the Tamils. The shelling and fire by the army killed tens of thousands of civilians. The Sri Lankan landscape is littered with security forces arbitrarily killing people, obviously unlawfully. As if killing should ever be lawful! People to this day live in abject and acute persection – this is why those who can flee to our shores, seeking Asylum – I have met many Tamils (and Sinhalese) in Australian Immigration Detention – and some made direct boat voyages from Sri Lanka to Christmas Island, 27 days on the high seas.
Former Nuclear Disarmament and then Greens Senator, Jo Valentine spoke strongly to the crowd that there is no need for any wars, that we should all be at the table of peace. Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh is another low profile dictator with high profile abuses – The abductions of citizens and the torture of political prisoners are the culmination of a country where freedom of speech is denied, and violence and lawlessness rebuke community prospects. Cameroon’s President Paul Biya, from 1982 onwards, is supported by his security forces who when they deem it necessary arbitrarily kill, literally, political dissent. Corruption is rife. Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who hung by a whisker to gain the Prime Ministerial role in our country, is entertaining dictators long accused of electoral frauds, of recurring rigging of elections such as Paul Biya and such as Kenya’s Mwai Kibaki. Unlawful killings, detention and judicial corruption are a concern of Kenya to just about every Human Rights watch committee. Yet, here we have a significant number of the Commonwealth’s dictators, murderers, and corrupt welcomed with the red carpet while our homeless folk are shoved out of our city centres. These are only a few examples of international human rights abusers who came to enjoy some camaraderie with the Australian government which is now doing its best to scrub up as a human rights abuser as I reiterate once again that Australia knowingly imprisons impoverished children in adult jails, slaps indefinite detention and tortuous mental and physical conditions upon our Asylum Seekers, be they children, women and men, commits every known racism upon the most vulnerable of our Aboriginal peoples.
CHOGM Perth will forever be symbolised by the disgraceful inhumanity, the appalling treatment of our homeless folk – shoved from the city squats and traps they sleep in through the darkest of nights, coldest of winters, sharpest of winds, and chilliest of rains. Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal homelessness dismissed as if these people do not matter, are not human, are not worth the time of day, as if they have nothing to save. The money spent by the federal and state governments on the CHOGM in Perth would have eliminated homelessness in WA. And, instead of the promise of transitional accommodation that could be transformed into semi-permanent accommodation, neither of which happened by the state government, only which was spun, the media spin from the state government is that there was a “night’s” worth of ‘hostel accommodation’ for them, however it was on a floor at Tranby House, and there were no extra beds, just limited services available from those organisations already there! – and then well, when the CHOGM Perth is done and dusted, the homeless can return to their dank, dark alleyways, squats and traps and the state government could not give a shit.
CHOGM 2011 could have looked human rights abuses in the eye, and startled awake those who commit them, and Australia could have refused VISA entry to Australia of all human rights abusers who masquerade as Heads and delegates of Commonwealth governments and instead allocate monies to be spent on entertaining and accommodating human rights abusers in assisting our most vulnerable, our homeless. If you wish to know a nation’s identity, its heart and mind, then day and night look into the make-up of its prisons, and in the chill of the darkest night, walk its streets and do not turn your eyes away from the homeless, who when you see them at long last are many, many, many more than you first thought.
ABORIGINAL ICON ISOBEL BROWN spoke to the Perth protestors, to the supporters of justice for all and for necessary social change, and said, “I’ve been here from the beginning and I’ll be here until the end. I come from the dream time and my culture will descend. Our ancient spirits of the land follow us as we roam the land. I will hold my head up high for I’m the first Australian, no-one could be more Australian than me. No! No! No! I have always belonged here since the beginning and will be here until the end. My people were the first inhabitants of this country. I’m connected to the land and the land connects me. This great “respect” has continued our identity. I’m a natural born survivor that will always live on. This land is sacred and will always be home of the ‘Ancient Aborigine.’ I have been here from the beginning and I will be here until the end. I come from the dreamtime and I know I will descend. Our ancient spirits of this land follow us as we roam the land. I will hold my head up high for no-one could ever be more Australian than me. No! No! No! They tried to wipe us out and eliminate our race for this great land of ours what the white man did is a disgrace. This country was never bought, this country was never sold, there was no treaty, it was just stolen from the Aborigines. I’ve been here from the beginning and I’ll be here to the end. I walk through this land with the spirits of my ancestors with me. I’m from the beginning; I’m the first Australian of this country. I’ve been here from the beginning and I will be here until the end.”
The Rally for Justice during the CHOGM in Perth opened up to a couple of thousand who had come from far and wide to listen and to support. There were many speakers, some were very good. The only criticism, and it is a failure of many social justice movements, was that many of the speakers were the usual swathe of local grassroots speakers chosen more so because of small time cults around themselves, of territorial like mentalities, some self-aggrandisement, and whose off the cuff remarks are not always on topic however a little more to do with their own selves and their personal struggles for the cause, rather than the cause – they lose many who come for the first time to hear and learn and who may yearn to know more so they can cogently support – the implosion of the social justice this has long been a problem plaguing and disenfranching others from the social justicmovement in Australia, and now with various ill-defined left wing groups splintering and getting all territorial rather than coalescing as one and supporting the brightest minds, the most inspirational of speakers, those who can articulate the issues, and those who understand the front lines. However, the Occupy movement may yet work to bring the fractious grass roots social justice movement together - let us hope, before it scares off the many thousands needed to give integrity to any cultural wave.
The most powerful speaker of the day was Aboriginal activist, Dr Anne Poelina, recently elected to the Broome Council, in the first Aboriginal majority council in WA. Anne, spoke strongly for justice period and for her passion to protect the Kimberley from the WA state governments lobbying of a multinational franchise owned Gas Hub, which will only serve to rapaciously destroy the pristine environment, and the whole cultural landscape. Malaysian and Bersee activist, Dr Wong Chin Huat, was another strong speaker, who called upon brothers and sisters far and wide in the Commonwealth to put pressure on the Malaysian government to try and get them ‘Clean by 13’ in terms of democratic rights and the proper handling and audit of elections. The Tamil speakers who preferred to remain unidentified spoke passionately and educative – of the predicament of the Tamil peoples in Sri Lanka and the racial divisiveness between Sinhalese and Tamil, and its pervasion into the agendas and actions of their government. 40,000 Tamils were killed last year in Sri Lanka, in what have been called ‘Killing Fields’ by the Tamil advocates and some of the world’s news media. There were Congolese and Zimbabweans highlighting human rights issues and the predicaments they endure while the rest of the world remains silent, and there were many from small island states and other regions who brought their messages.
After a half hour’s worth of speaks, there was a powerful march through town, and to the frustration of police, particularly Officer in Charge, Commander Bill Munnee, the march of thereabouts 1,500 (do not believe the conservative news media journalists who may argue less numbers) marched slowly, stopping on many occasions to chant, to lament, to be solemn, to inspire, and to test the police blockades, to throw back to the state and federal government the peoples’ disgust at the insult of exclusion zones, and the overt CHOGM powers, which allowed for the suspension of commonsensical human rights, and which eroded civil liberties, crushed the right to freedom of movement. After a good half hour the march came to a halt in William Street where another barrier had been set up by the police, scores of police misused as the weapons of government, and the corner of William and Hay Streets was occupied while tensions between police and the occupiers rose – a number of speaks ensued. The news media had gathered en masse.
In time the March continued on and back to Forrest Place and the Rally for Justice was handed over to the Occupy Perth movement who then called for an Open Microphone and a General Assembly. The 1% occupy our resources, they occupy the laws, they are the multinationals and their supporters, they occupy our parliaments, they occupy our skies – responsible for all the rubbish they emit into them. The government and the CHOGM have called for exclusion zones in Perth, they occupy parts of Perth, they have moved on the homeless, they disregard the people, so it gave every right for the Occupy movement to hold firm on sending its messages to the Australian government, in solidarity with other Occupiers world-wide, and Occupy Forrest Chase, and so this came to pass. Right now, Forrest Chase is being OCCUPIED.
A marquee has been set up in Forrest Chase. The nation’s media en masse is watching, international media is watching, and the state government, CHOGM authorities, and the Police are holding back, being diplomatic, not wanting to have the brutal force applied on occupiers in Sydney and Melbourne mar the pomp and ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting circus in Perth – and this morning there is the Great Aussie Breakfast, with the Queen, to occur nearby, and well we’ll see how long they pretend to be tolerant of the rights of others to protest and for how long the state and federal governments will pretend there is unfettered democracy in our country. I had predicted that the police would be instructed to leave the Occupy Perth alone yesterday and overnight, and at least till the Queen's departure, and hopefully till all the delegates had left our shores, maybe for the weekend however let us wait and see. More to come.
SOME PEOPLE ACT AS IF PEOPLE ARE THE PROPERTY OF PEOPLE. FREEDOM IS NOT THE PROPERTY OF PEOPLE, AT BEST PEOPLE ARE THE PROPERTY OF FREEDOM.
Aboriginal peoples targeted at Occupy Perth camp, moved on
Submitted by Gerry G. on Sun, 30/10/2011 - 11:56pm.
Word has just come through from the Perth Occupy campsite in Forrest Place, that there are 60 protestors are being hovered by police - however that at this time police are trying to move on Aboriginal folk. Nyungar activist, and Chairperson of the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee WA, Marianne Mackay is there, and Marianne has just phoned me to try and get some news media on site to let people know that Aboriginal folk are being targeted.
Obviously, in the hotbed of racism that WA is this is nothing knew to those that live this racism, discrimination or to those that who have looked deep into the way peoples treat people, and especially our Aboriginal peoples here in WA.
Nyungar and Yamatji folk on site at the Occupy Perth are being asked to move on, and issued notices to do so. Well, 1 in 20 West Australian Aboriginal males are in WA prisons. This is the type of discrimination that occurs in WA.
On Friday 28, at about 2pm when I and my partner had gone back to my car, parked in Hay St., while attending the Occupy Perth, a WA Police vehicle was parked, almost double parked, nearby. After we drove out we were followed and after we turned right in Pier St., their siren went on, and I pulled up just past the Pier St., Car Park as you do... however I had not committed any traffic infringement and I have a clean driving record. You see my car sports about a score of stickers, Save the Whales, Save the Forests, Close the Gap, Stop Deaths in Custody, Justice - where the bloody hell are you?, When enough rise - change happens, Free Palestine, Peace is the Way, We need Independent Media, and so on... They saw these stickers on my car and misused the unlawfully imposed CHOGM 'legislation' by the WA state government which has suspended what little of personal and private human rights we have, suspended our suite of civil liberties and without reasonable grounds for suspicion put on a performance that someone who believes in our forests, clean air, in pacifism, in a civil and just society, in human worth and equality is somehow some sort of possible potential threat or security risk to the charade and the pomp the CHOGM was all about.
Two officers got out, one friendly enough, the other one an idiot. They did not explain any grounds however I raised the CHOGM powers with them and the one chap admitted it was the CHOGM special powers at work and that my car's stickers were what flagged their interest.
The one officer insisted on a licence check. This is improper and discriminatory.
Two motorcycle officers had been called in and were there as back up, to what I don't know. One copper was embarrassed and tried to convert the situation into a humorous moment. However, the officer who insisted on the licence check did, and took down my details, and then asked for my partner's, who even under the abusive CHOGM powers did not have to provide them, which he kindly admitted to a little later, however my partner being the decent person that she is did provide an identity check and likewise he took down her details in his grubbly little book.
Commissioner O'Callaghan, who at times I have spoken up for, not always, should be ashamed of himself and his WA police force. O'Callaghan, with his PhD and many promises of an improved police force, and I accept he has a tough gig, has failed to move in the leaps and bounds that we all deserve.
With the one officer I did discuss the CHOGM legislation, before discussing my PhD in Australian Deaths in Custody, Australia's horrific deaths in custody, prison and police custodial, the maltreatment of Aboriginal peoples in Western Australia, and Australia-wide, and we discussed the Indonesian children who languish in Australian adult prisons, the brunt of them in WA. There seemed to be a moment that one of them realised the many wrongs that police have contributed to despite the tough gig they endure in upholding the peace, and for a moment he may have seemed to be ashamed to be WA police officer rather than a conscientious objector to obvious wrongs.
What none of them get, and why racism and discrimination sadly flourish, is that when you harrass, move on or arrest someone for the colour of their skin, when you target Aboriginal people then this is RACISM, and when you pull up someone who has done nothing because of the stickers on their car well this is discrimination, it may sound little in the scheme of things however it explains an origin of thinking, it explains bias, and prejudice and the onset of wrong doing. It explains the shit shoved down their throats for far too long.
The news media should contact Marianne Mackay regarding what's happening at the OCCUPY Perth, and some of the photographers and film makers on site.
The WA Police do not need to be the weapons of others, and WA Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan and his colleagues have a quite a way to go.
Kindly, Gerry Georgatos - 0430 657 309