Aboriginal activists will join filmmaker John Pilger in a forum marking the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Redfern today at 6.30pm.
Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS), who are organising the forum, say the launch of Utopia has mobilised thousands of people across Australia and has refocussed attention of what the film brands a system of apartheid operating against Aboriginal people.
The forum will urge supporters to join upcoming protest rallies against the forced removal of Aboriginal children by child protection services and the ongoing NT Intervention.
Dianne Stokes, from the Warlmanpa and Warumungu people in the Northern Territory, has been fighting to stop a nuclear waste dump on her land at Manuwangku (Muckaty) for almost seven years. She has travelled from Tennant Creek to address the forum:
“Since the Intervention the police have special powers to treat Aboriginal people very badly. We can feel the racist treatment in Centrelink too, that they have power over us, to put us on BasicsCard”.
“We are having problems with children being taken away. We need places where as Aboriginal people we can work with young mothers who need support. Don’t just take the children off them, it’s very sad, like the stolen generation all over again”.
“The film Utopia made us very sad, showing the jails are full of Aboriginal people and the way we are treated. But it also made me feel we need to do something about it, to protest in the streets.”
STICS activist Paddy Gibson says that Utopia’s exposure of the ongoing mass removal of Aboriginal children has given confidence to Aboriginal communities to speak out against the continuing Stolen Generations.
“Since the release of Utopia we have seen Grandmothers from Gunnedah protest outside NSW State Parliament calling for the return of stolen children. This week activists from the Brisbane Tent Embassy and Perth Tent Embassy united in a court action which saw a young Noongar girl who had been abducted from a school in Perth and taken to Queensland returned to her family”.
“At this forum we will be calling to build on this momentum and support an upcoming national day of action against continuing Stolen Generations on National Sorry Day on May 26”.
“The forced removals of Aboriginal children is worst in NSW with almost 10 per cent of Aboriginal children currently in out of home care yet Minister Goward is ramming through legislation which will entrench adoption or permanent guardianship, removing any rights parents may have to be reunited with their children”.
“The formal apartheid Aboriginal people are living under in the NT is mirrored by an informal apartheid across the country. On this day marking the massacre of anti-apartheid activists in Sharpeville, we will renew our commitment to take to the streets for Aboriginal rights”, Gibson concluded.
March 21, 6.30pm for 7pm start.
REDFERN Town Hall, 73 Pitt St, Redfern
John Pilger, Utopia filmmaker
Dianne Stokes, Muckaty Traditional Owner
Uncle Albert Hartnett, Wangkumurra man
Paddy Gibson, Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney
FOR COMMENT OR TO ARRANGE MEDIA INTERVIEWS
Contact Paddy Gibson on 0415 800 586