Stop Australia’s brutal grab of Aboriginal land!

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Australia is reviving its bloody history of military takeover and genocide. Prime Minister John Howard’s conservative government has begun an invasion, endorsed by the Labor Party, of all Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory. He has announced his intention to extend the invasion countrywide.

The Northern Territory, a huge region in central north Australia, is its largest without statehood; the federal government can override all its laws. Its population is 29 percent Aboriginal, although Indigenous people are only 2.5 percent of Australia’s total population. The territory also just happens to have the world’s largest deposits of uranium, and is rich in manganese, iron and aluminum ore. In 2005, Howard announced his intention to locate a nuclear dump there, overturning territorial laws to do so. These are the real reasons for imposing martial law.

But Howard’s thinly veiled pretext is the “Little Children Are Sacred” report commissioned by the territory to look into child abuse in Indigenous communities. As is true in many colonized and impoverished communities, substance abuse, domestic violence and child abuse are serious problems for Aboriginal Australians.

The report actually identifies authentic solutions for these problems, including adequate funding, under community control, to combat poverty. A racist military incursion is not one of their recommendations.

Australia already has a high rate of incarceration of Aboriginal men, and the number of deaths in detention is a national scandal. The same week that Howard announced his invasion, an all-white jury in the state of Queensland acquitted a racist cop of the murder of an Aboriginal man, Mulrunji, while in police custody.

The good news is the rallies occurring across Australia and New Zealand, and outside Australia House in London, expressing outrage and a determination to fight the occupation. Demonstrators understand that Howard’s assault is both a terrible crime against Indigenous people and a threat to the democratic rights of all Australians. Now the protests need to spread far and wide!

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