Aboriginal people brief Barack Obama before he meets Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

Aboriginal people from many parts of Australia, including the Northern Territory homelands, are expressing their strong opposition to their treatment by the Australian Government in statements sent to President Obama this week. Dr Djiniyini Gondarra, a Traditional Owner of Elcho Island said "I am writing to you as a fellow black citizen of the world, to express my concerns about Australian Government policy, both past and present, which has suppressed Aboriginal culture, languages, land, law and its people since invasion over 200 years ago."

"In summary, my people are treated with neither the rights of sovereigns or citizens of this country. We have been abandoned, and left somewhere in between; dying of diseases only found in 3rd world countries and fighting for rights that so many other countries have enshrined in their Constitutions." said Dr Djiniyini Gondarra.

Michael Anderson said "Here in Australia we believed that the Labor government might have pursued radical changes for Aboriginal people after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made his apology over 12 months ago. Twelve months on we find ourselves in a worse situation than we were in the 1950s and 1960s. More Aboriginal children are currently being removed from their families than in the 30 years between 1937 and 1967. These children are generally being placed in overcrowded institutions or with non-Aboriginal foster parents."

"In our view this is tantamount to a continuation of the former policies that were genocidal in their form and nature to forcefully remove of children of Aboriginal parentage into the dominant societal norms, where they have no access or influence of their own culture, language and traditions. We thought the apology of Kevin Rudd 12 months ago would be a warning for all concerned that this would never happen again." said Anderson.

Barbara Shaw from Mt Nancy town camp in Alice Springs wrote to President Obama saying "We are asking you to raise these matters with Kevin Rudd when you meet with him this month. Our people are extending an invitation for you to visit our Town Camps, Outstation/Homelands and Remote Communities and to meet with us personally."

"I will also be making a presentation on racial discrimination at the Durban Review in Geneva between 20-24 April, focusing on how the Australian Federal Government used the rights of the child as a special measure to rollout the Northern Territory Emergency Response legislation Intervention without any free, prior and informed consent consultation with our people." said Shaw.

"How can compulsorily acquiring our lands for five years be a 'special measure'?"

"How can seizing our land assist in child protection?"

"The Intervention is not protecting our children. Instead it is pushing Aboriginal people further below the poverty line and the new Rudd government has not made any positive changes to the Intervention."

"The Australian federal government talks about closing the seventeen year life expectancy gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous Peoples. With the current situation of the intervention, the gap is actually widening."

Barbara Shaw concluded "We have been forced into assimilation as far as we can go and we will not hand over our country because we belong to it and it belongs to us. The Aboriginal and Islander struggles are an ongoing fight between grassroots and governments."

Some of the letters and statements sent to Barack Obama are attached

PO Box 8488 Alice Springs NT 0871. Phone: Barbara Shaw 0401 291 166
Email: rollbacktheintervention@gmail.com
Contact: Barbara Shaw: 0401 291 166 and 0421 795 639


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