All charges against Musgrave fire defenders dropped on Aboriginal Sovereignty Day

The Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy celebrates the dropping of all charges against those arrested in Musgrave Park on May 16 attempting to stop Brisbane City Council desecrating the sacred fire. This is a victory for all Aboriginal people and our pursuit to assert our sovereignty over the land.

The world's attention was drawn to Musgrave Park on May 16 this year when over 250 police forcibly removed over 60 Aboriginal people and their supporters, 35 people were arrested and charged. Those that gathered that morning were not protesting any particular issue as widely reported in the media. They were there to try and prevent the destruction of the sacred fire and ceremonial ground that had been re-established on ceremonial ground that had been used for thousands of years. The use of this ground was well documented by early colonisers and had been registered under the Queensland Cultural Heritage Act.

Those brave people who were arrested on May 16 were never criminals, in fact they were trying to prevent a crime. Under the Cultural Heritage Act it is crime to interfere with or damage a registered cultural heritage site. The maximum penalty for this crime is fines up to $1,000,000 and imprisonment for up to 2 years. Our task now is to get to the bottom of who in Brisbane City Council is responsible for this crime and what role the Queensland Government and Paniyri Festival organisers had in this as well. We believe that both Federal and International laws protecting the rights of Indigenous people to their culture may also have been broken.

This isn't over and we are looking at all avenues to get justice for this unwarranted attack on our culture and on a sacred place.

Today is a double celebration for us. Not only have the last charges from May 16 been dropped this morning but today is also National Sovereignty Day. On this day, the 22nd of August, in 1770 Captain James Cook landed on an island in the Torres Strait. He raised the Union Jack on it's shores, named it 'Possession Island' and claimed the entire east coast of Australia for Britain on the basis that the land was uninhabited, no man's land, TERRA NULLIUS – a concept that has been proven to be fraudulent. This date was chosen to celebrate and highlight that Aboriginal Sovereignty has never been ceded at a gathering of Aboriginal people from all over Australia in Canberra during commemorations marking 40 years of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in January this year.

Celebrations and a corroboree is being held this afternoon/evening at the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy from 4pm at 121 Cordelia St, South Brisbane (Musgrave Park).

On behalf of our brave defenders we'd like to thank the Queensland Council of Unions for their legal support via Hall Payne lawyers. Special thanks also to the Queensland Branches of the Electrical Trades Union, the Builders Labourers Federation and the National Tertiary Education Union for their support on the ground.

For further information phone Wayne Wharton on 0408 064 900