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Two years too long: rally calls for end to NT Intervention

Media release: Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney - June 17, 2009

Two years too long: rally calls for end to NT Intervention

On Saturday 20 June, people around the country will rally in solidarity with Aboriginal people protesting two years of the Northern Territory Intervention. The Sydney event, starting at Belmore Park 10:30am, will be led by Maurie Ryan Japarta, Kalkarindji community member and Deputy Chair of the Central Land Council in the NT. "I am one of 45550 Indigenous men, women and children affected by this legislation. This only affects people in the Northern Territory and only Indigenous people. The most downtrodden people have been picked on".

Mr Ryan agrees with recent comments by Aboriginal activist Sol Bellear that Australia is a racist country. "I am being accused, like every Aboriginal male in the NT, of being a paedophile, alcoholic and basher. We have all been accused and it is not right. I am going to Sydney to talk because it is still affecting my people today. I was just at the hospital, where 90% of patients are Indigenous and I couldn't buy anything because of the Basics Card. I couldn't buy a cup of coffee or tea".

Mr Ryan is also concerned that desperately needed resources are being diverted from impoverished communities. "Money being spent on the Intervention is going to bureaucrats, not Indigenous people. This is not ‘closing the gap'. Only people employed by the Commonwealth say the gap is closing. Other people are just trying to survive. It is wrong".

Nicole Watson, from Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at UTS and Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) said, "Kevin Rudd recently telephoned his Indian counterpart out of concern that repeated attacks on Indian students would damage our economy. Rudd assured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that, ‘Australia is a country of great diversity, harmony and tolerance.' But only two days before, Rudd had publicly affirmed his commitment to the NT Intervention - the most racist assault on human rights in Australians' living memory".

Ms Watson added, "The Intervention is a form of apartheid, under which Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory have lost control over their lands and personal income. The very political party that championed the enactment of the Racial Discrimination Act over forty years ago has also deprived the most marginalised Australians of the fundamental right to legal protection from racial discrimination".

"The racism of the Intervention has only accelerated under the Rudd government. Minister Macklin says she will re-instate the RDA, but that compulsory income management will continue despite consistent opposition from across the 'Prescribed Areas'. She is using Intervention powers to push through the seizure of Aboriginal town camps fought for over decades. She is working with the NT government to drive people off remote homelands. We rally as part of national demonstrations demanding an immediate end to policies of assimilation being forced on Aboriginal people in the NT and across Australia, " concluded Natalie Wasley from Stop The Intervention Collective Sydney.

Other speakers at the Sydney rally will include Professor Larissa Behrendt, Geoff Scott (New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council), Adam Kerslake (Unions New South Wales) and renowned journalist Jeff McMullen.

After marching to the Block in Redfern for ‘Family Day' events, a concert will be held with Indigenous performers from mainland Australia, Torres Strait Islands and Aotearoa.

For Comment:
Maurie Ryan- 0420 719 166
Nicole Watson- 0432 631 713
Natalie Wasley- 0429 900 774