Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mensahi ginen i Gehilo' #9: Imagine Independence

It has been a while since my last message of this type. To be honest the Commission on Decolonization of which the Independence Task Force is a part hasn't been very active for the past few years. Inertia and lack of motivation seeped into the Commission from a variety of angles making it incapable of doing anything.

That period is hopefully at an end however as the Commission has shown some signs of life since the start of this year. Although the Commission has received money since 2011 for salaries, no money has been set aside for public education, which is what the Commission on Decolonization is meant to oversee. This year there is at last a $100,000 budget set specifically for conducting public education. The Independence Task Force will be meeting this month and start to make plans for the coming year. If you are interested in joining the Task Force, please email me at mlbasquiat@hotmail.com or leave a comment below.

This past week I saw an interesting piece of news out of Australia. I've pasted the release below. It is an important reminder that the road to Independence first requires being able to imagine it. It means that you have to be able to envision what it is like and would be like, even if it has yet to happen. This means finding a way to see past so many layers of injustice, so many fictions that have been placed down over your lands to give the impression that they belong to someone else, who purchased them through treaties or stole them via flags placed in sands.

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18/04/2015 - APG Chairperson held up at Brisbane international airport by customs officials for presenting Aboriginal passport

Nyaywana man and Chairperson of the APGCallum Clayton-Dixon was held up by customs officials at Brisbane international airport for at least 40 minutes yesterday evening when he insisted on presenting only his Aboriginal passport on return from a trip to Aotearoa.  They eventually allowed him to re-enter Aboriginal land without producing any other documentation.

After being told to stand aside from the queue, Clayton-Dixon was approached by an official who proceeded to ask, "Do you have an Australian passport," to which Clayton-Dixon replied, "I am an Aboriginal person returning to my country using my Aboriginal passport."  A number of customs and immigration officials attempted on multiple occasions to get him to produce other forms of identification (Australian passport, drivers licence etc).

Clayton-Dixon says it is crucial that as many of our people travelling overseas, for whatever reason, attain and use their Aboriginal passport when re-entering Aboriginal land via an Australian international airport:

"They may hassle and harass us, but they have to let us through eventually.  It's our country, and we have the right to use our own passport instead of having to use a foreign and colonial travel document.  We have the right to put 'Aboriginal' on the nationality section of the incoming passenger card instead of 'Australian'.  The United Nations states clearly that indigenous peoples have the right to determine our own political status, to be self-determining.  This is the issue we're trying to raise with the Aboriginal passport.  It's an act of Aboriginal sovereignty."

The APG has been talking with an international passport company since January this year about revamping the Aboriginal passport so that it fulfils international security requirements set down by the United Nations.  The rollout of the revamped Aboriginal passport will take place in early 2016, and the APG will then work to get official recognition from countries sympathetic to our struggle for self-determination.

Callum Clayton-Dixon (Nyaywana)CHAIRPERSON
Aboriginal Provisional Government
chair@apg.org.au



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