Wangan & Jagalingou leader in historic meeting with Kiribati president

MEDIA RELEASE – November 19, 2015

Wangan & Jagalingou leader in historic meeting with Kiribati president

Joins president’s call for no new coal mines; seeks support to defend W&J’s rights and country

Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owner, and senior spokesperson Adrian Burragubba, will this morning meet with President Anote Tong of Kiribati and offer support to his call for a global moratorium on new coal mines. The meeting will bring together for the first time two leaders of traditional peoples in the region vulnerable to the devastating impacts of coal mining and burning.

President Anote Tong has called for no new coal mines, as coal-driven climate change and resulting sea level rise present a grave existential threat to his people, and to continued life on his island nation.

Mr. Burragubba said “My people have heard the concerns of the President on behalf of the people of Kiribati and empathise with them. As traditional people, we too face devastation of our lands, our culture and our people by coal”.

Mr. Burragubba said the Federal and Queensland Governments must put  a halt to Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine on Wangan and Jagalingou traditional lands – the biggest mine in Australian history – which will destroy W&J’s ancestral Country, and escalate climate change.

“The W&J people have said No to Adani’s Carmichael mine, time and again, yet our Governments have overridden our rights and are giving it their approval. This mine  would obliterate our country and drain and poison our waters. It would destroy ancient and irreplaceable cultural landscapes and heritage sites. It would sever our deep and abiding connection to our ancestral lands. And it would play a massive part in detonating ‘a carbon bomb’, fueling run-away climate change and leading to the very thing President Tong fears for his nation”.

Mr. Burragubba will seek President Tong’s support in the struggle of the W&J people to stop this devastating project.

“As first nations people, Indigenous people, we have rights recognised under international law and the UN declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People – including to withhold our consent to mining on our land. We ask President Tong to join us in our efforts to ensure this destructive mega-mine never goes ahead; to use his good offices to encourage Governments in Australia to respect our rights, and to consider the catastrophic global impacts of their support  for Carmichael, and for coal more generally”, he said.

“We welcome this dialogue with President Tong”, said Mr. Burragubba, “as an important first step in the collaborative efforts of our traditional peoples to draw a line in the sand, say “enough is enough”, and fight to preserve our homelands, our ways of life, and the very future of our children from the impacts of coal. ”.

President Tong will be joined by Mr. Burragubba and other guests — Professor Tim Flannery, Councilor at the Climate Council and former Australian of the Year and Blair Palese, CEO of 350.org – at the No New Coal Mines public talk at the Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre A, University of Melbourne, from 6.30pm.

For further comment: Adrian Burragubba, Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owner, and senior spokesperson for the W&J family council – 0428 949 115

For background: Anthony Esposito – 0418 152 743

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