Adani abusing Aboriginal rights again: W&J leader

Latest News / Monday, September 7th, 2020
  • Adani threatened with assault and racial discrimination charges over land access dispute
  • Human Rights complaint filed with Qld Commissioner
  • Qld Premier and Police Commissioner asked to not interfere with TO’s land rights

Jagalingou First Nation Traditional Owners returned to their camp and ceremonial ground near the Adani mine site late yesterday and were immediately confronted by Adani security personnel. 

The family group, led by tribal leader, and prominent W&J spokesperson, Adrian Burragubba, were prompted to move on from the camp by police a little over a week ago. The police acted after Adani, who holds the Moray Downs pastoral lease where the ceremonial camp is located, falsely claimed they were trespassing.

W&J cultural leader, Adrian Burragubba, who is now at the camp, says: 

“We have returned to our ceremonial camp after we were moved on by police last week at Adani’s behest. We have a right to be here. Adani has no right to remove us. And any attempt to evict us may result in assault and racial discrimination charges.

“We are forced to fight Adani and the State just to be on Country, so we can be there to honour our ancestors and protect our land, as our people have done for millennia.

“Adani continues to discriminate against us and abuse our rights. I am on my Country with my tribal group, under our laws and customs, in an area unrelated to the mine.

“Adani had previously encouraged the police to act on their behalf, and appears to have provided them with false information, saying that they own the land and that we were trespassing”.

“Adani thinks he owns the place, but this has always been our ancestral homeland, and our rights remain. He’s nothing but a Johnny-come-lately leaseholder on our Country.

“We are harmed – spiritually, culturally and physically – by the desecration and destruction of our land for the Carmichael mine. We are peacefully camping on our homeland practicing our laws and culture. But Adani sends in its security force and calls in police to intervene”, he said. 

Mr Burragubba has filed a complaint with the Queensland Human Rights Commission. And lawyers for the group sent a series of letters last Friday to the Police Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner, the Premier and Ministers for Police and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, and the Director General of DATSIP and DATSIP Deputy DG, asking that they not interfere with the right of W&J people to be present on their Country. 

Adani’s Executive Director, Samir Vora, along with its mining CEO, and general manager of the mine site, have also been advised of the group’s statutory right to access that area under native title law, and warned against trying to remove them.

The W&J First Nations family group are on Country for ceremony and camping and will remain there indefinitely. They hold a particular connection to Jagalingou country and the area of the coal mining project. They have ceremonial rights and responsibilities under First Nations law and are present “to protect the land and honour the ancestors”. 

Lawyers for the group have spelt out the Traditional Owners’ statutory right to be on the pastoral lease. The family does not require the permission of the pastoral lease holder – Adani – and were wrongfully prompted to move on by police. The action of removal was discriminatory and a breach of human rights and complaints have been raised. 

More info: Anthony Esposito, W&J adviser, 0418 152 743

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