The blogosphere is now full of self congratulatory reports of the great success of the Sydney anti-APEC protests.
I am not impressed though.
The Aboriginal Tent Embassy was camped at Victoria Park for the duration of APEC but there appears to have been no connection to it or to Aboriginal Australia in any of the protest propaganda before the event or the glowing reviews since the event.
Here are some of my comments around the blogosphere…..
“I am astounded that in the context of Howard’s NT emergency and the existence of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Victoria Park the protest movement ignored Aboriginal Australia and Aboriginal issues.
I have asked around other places too, and there seems to have been no connection.
This was a perfect opportunity to embarrass both the govt. and the ALP internationally for their racist and genocidal policies.
It was not that long ago that Chris Hurley’s aquittal for the death of Mulrunji was big international news.
Yet the protest seems to have stayed within the shell of colonial Australia – identifying as part of the global anti-bush movement while remaining blind to the real war, oppression and resistance that is occuring right here in Australia.
There has been a great outrage at the denial of civil liberties to white middle class people but the daily police harrasment and persecution that occurs in Aboriginal communities or to Aboriginal individuals in the streets of any town, plus the constant fear and threat of death in custody, does not seem to be a key issue for the proponents of civil liberty.
It is not just Iraq that has been subjected to war and foreign domination. This is the history of our country too – and none of it has been rectified, resulting in the massive problems today in Aboriginal society.
If the protests were just about the morality and sensibilities of white society then they stand alongside Bush and Howard as symbols of global white supremacy, imperialism and colonisation.”
“There is nothing new about the brutality of the police at this demonstration.
Aboriginal communities around Australia experience the jackboot as everyday policing.
The above article speaks of a “war against history”. There is a war against the history of this country also, a denial and a sugar coating that conforms to the great Australian mode of white superiority, or at least a Terra Nullius consciousness that is blind to Aboriginal people, their history and their contemporary circumstance.
It seems to me that the protests also were a part of this Terra Nullius perspective.
At present the government has waged war against Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. In their term of government they have wound back all of the Aboriginal gains of the 20th century including land rights, an independent representative body, the reccomendations of the royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and even the Racial Discrimination Act.
APEC was a prime opportunity to put these issues on the world stage, especially since the ALP has not raised even a whimper in opposition to Howard’s Aboriginal agenda.
The Aboriginal Tent Embassy was camped in Victoria Park, also protesting against APEC but the protests seem to have failed to connect with them or incorporated any of their demands into the protest.
It is not surprising when the civil liberties of middle class white folk are denied there is a huge fuss kicked up.
But the daily repression of Aboriginal communities including racist and thuggish policing manages to stay under the radar of even the protest movement.”
And on Left Click
“So I take it that there was no link up with the Aboriginal Tent Embassy?
I suggest this is because the protest movement shares the same colonial consciousness as mainstream Australia. Aboriginal people, actions and demands are ignored unless they have some relevance to our own campaigns and issues.
We reduce Aboriginal struggle to meaningless dot points on our own propaganda – although it seems even this didn’t happen at the APEC protest. Please correct me if I am wrong but I saw nothing in the many statements about the protest.
Some communiques refered to inspiring quotes from Aboriginal spokespeople to rev up a sense of militancy, but nobody decided to include Aboriginal demands, let alone connect to the Tent Embassy protesting at the same time and same place.
This is a crucial time in Australian history as we face the possiblity of finally getting rid of Howard. He and Brough have picked a fight about protecting Aboriginal children, in so doing he is provoking the worst of Australian racism in the hope that such negativity will get him over the line just as children overboard did.
But children overboard had a massive reaction – a whole refugee rights movement developed with protests across the country continuing until the present.
But who has built any similar campaign in support of Aboriginal Australia? The ALP has supported the intervention and “the left” or the militant protest movement has done little else than pass polite commentary on the matter in their other campaigns.
As long as Aboriginal demands, political organisation and ways of doing things are ignored by our protest movements, we remain as just another branch of a diverse invader colonial matrix.
We may have our arguments with other sectors of the invader society such as Howard but we are all united in our blindness to Aboriginality and our own responsibilities and opportunities in this Aboriginal country.
It is time to transcend tokenism and white consciousness and join the longest running resistance movement in Australia’s history.”