Robbie Thorpe

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Lateral Love’s Nicola Butler, Jack Charles and Robbie Thorpe in Smith Street, Melbourne Victoria on the 31st August 2013.

Find Robbie on 3CR Community Radio in Melbourne:

Monday 11:00am to12:00pm
International solidarity with First Nations.

– See more at: http://www.3cr.org.au/program_list#sthash.kroY5moL.dpuf

Wednesday 11:00am to12:00pm
A historically informed, critical analysis of Aboriginal affairs and the ongoing political movement for land rights, treaty, sovereignty and the cessation of genocide.

– See more at: http://www.3cr.org.au/program_list#sthash.kroY5moL.dpuf

Robbie Thorpe is from the Krautungalung people of the Gunnai Nation, the traditional owners of Lake Tyers. He has been active in initiating indigenous solutions and, in particular, has been a strong advocate for ‘Pay the Rent’, an indigenous initiative which would provide an independent economic resource for Aboriginal peoples. Robbie has initiated a number of legal actions, where he has argued that crimes of genocide have been committed against Aboriginal peoples throughout the history of the colonisation of Australia (see: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/ILB/2000/4.html ).

 

Robbie Thorpe on Aboriginal Genocide and the need for a Treaty (2007): “The Howard Settler Governments invasion of the Northern territory was land-grabbing racism nothing more. The invasion was part of the neo liberal structural adjustment programme of Intuitions such as the World Bank, the IMF and APEC to diminish and extinguish Indigenous rights forever.

It is no surprise to see that the four countries that were blocking the passage of the Draft Declaration of indigenous rights through the United Nations, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Canada, they are the same four states that as part of APEC are raping the marine ocean environment in the Pacific, and are further oppressing and eroding the hard won rights of their Indigenous Nations and Peoples through out the world and within their own countries.

What is happening to our brothers and sisters in the NT, is part of that process, part of that genocide.

On the 14th July Indigenous peoples worldwide stand united in their opposition to these agenda’s, invasions and to the unending dispossession and disrespect shown to our peoples.

As the Indigenous Peoples of Australia, we weren’t afforded civil rights and as such we weren’t recognised and we’ve missed that process for the last two hundred years. I don’t think you can have any laws that are appropriate for Aboriginal people in this country until you have a treaty, which ends the war. Before you have a treaty you have to have an end to hostilities. Before those processes take place, you can’t talk about having a civil rights society.

One of our rights being breached is the right to consent. Aboriginal people haven’t consented. If you do things without consent, it’s considered rape. Now, a lot of crimes have been committed against Aboriginal people. There is a history of denial, which has gone on, and these crimes are continuing.
They won’t take the fundamental steps towards establishing a civil society. They need to have a treaty; they need to end the war against the Aboriginal people. We know we’ve had a war here, but they can’t tell you what day it ended. That may be the national day this country could celebrate.

Until they have that treaty with Aboriginal people we can’t talk about making laws for Aboriginal people or applying it to them. The treaty will give them that basis of law to do it.”. [1].

Robbie Thorpe on Aboriginal Genocide, UN Genocide Convention, proper legal jurisdiction and lack of a Treaty (2000): “Australia ratified the Genocide Convention in 1949, but never legislated to protect people from crimes of genocide. So considering that this country was based upon a terra nullius of law, which meant it was an empty country, they had a hollow Genocide Act. We have challenged the Commonwealth of Australia in Thorpe v Commonwealth[1] to qualify our legal status and we argued it should be done at an international level. You’ve got to have an umpire to make that unbiased decision… In our first case, Thorpe v Commonwealth,[2] we alleged that genocide was a crime of universal jurisdiction, and that no-one was immune from prosecution. We tried to place blocks in the system so that other people who came after us could use them, but what tripped us up in Nulyarimma v Thompson[3] was that Australia recognised the crime of genocide everywhere else except in Australia… Preventing genocide happening to our people would be a good start to having some kind of future. The [extradition] treaty became relevant to extradite war criminals, because there’s no jurisdiction over crimes of genocide in Australia. We need to extradite those people to a place where they can be tried for crimes of genocide. We are claiming we’ve got genocidists in this country, and we want them out of here, and if Australia hasn’t the facility to deal with it, we need to do something about that. We need to extradite these people to a jurisdiction, which has it. That became relevant today, Friday July 13… This [extradition] treaty to take Konrad Kalejs, a war criminal from Melbourne, is an applicable law now for us, to apply to people like Kennett, Howard, and any other war criminals in this country…. There ain’t no future here. My people are haemorrhaging in terms of their lives. We have historical Aboriginal people who control and run our cultural business, for example – they are just the native police people, who did the ethnic cleansing and the genocide in our early days. They’re the black people who survived in our territory, and we’re a minority amongst Aboriginal people in our territory. We’re way behind the eight ball: we’ve got no rights, we’re the most despised people, the indigenous people of this area. There’s been a lot of movement of Aboriginal people who don’t respect other Aboriginal people’s land… Absolutely, that’s our worst problem, native police. The whole issue of native police needs to be brought into light now. We’ve had the deaths in custody, the stolen generations, and everything that constitutes genocide in the Genocide Convention. Australia’s guilty of everything… Genocide would mean that the Gunnai Nation are no more; there’s a sunset on it, and they’re aiming at that. It’s been going on for a long time and we’re at the end of it… Initially it was smallpox infestation, then it was massacres and hunting them down, and then it was reserves, then as they died out they moved other blacks in, and they moved the surviving traditional blacks to other reserves in other parts of the country. They uprooted entire populations, moved them, took their children away, stopped them from speaking their language; genocide they committed in Victoria and a lot of other places. People think genocide’s shooting people; it’s not, it’s a lot broader than that. The cultural definitions come into it…. How do they do it [Genocide] today? They deny us resources, they destroy our sites, and they control our culture. [The Department of] Aboriginal affairs in Victoria is in control of all the Aboriginal peoples’ culture in Victoria: all the information goes there, nothing comes into the communities. The cultural officers work for them; they’re not accountable to the communities. There are no indigenous structures in Victoria. There are no elders’ councils that are not corporate bodies. There are no politically independent Aboriginal people… We need to have a treaty. We’ve got to have an end to the war on our people. Our people are still wounded. They’re still afraid of these people. There’s still that sort of fear. Now, how can you deal with people in an honest and fair way with your rights and your future when they’re still under that duress? We’re not getting free and informed consent. We can’t possibly make decisions about our long–term future in such a short time. We’ve only had government bureaucrats doing our business on our behalf, and it’s just been a battle for our people on the ground to fight that off.” [2].

Robbie Thorpe on invasion, alien law, Aboriginal Genocide and destruction of Australian environment (1994): “What I’d like to talk about is the relationship to the land Aboriginal people have, and how the destruction of our land also represents the destruction of Aboriginal people. That can be seen right across the face of this planet. You even have indigenous people destroying their own lands now, to enable themselves to survive. It’s an absolute tragedy that this is happening. Where the land is destroyed, so are the Aboriginal-indigenous people . . . I also see the law as it is today as the single most destructive thing in the Australian environment.

What I mean is that the law that we live under in this country is an alien law which was imposed on this country. It was imposed through an invasion. A lot of people say it was settled; it’s not true. A fleet of ships came out here captained by an English naval officer, Captain James Cook. Cook’s instructions from his king were to get consent from the Aboriginal people. That failed to happen. We all know the story of Terra Nullius. For the people that don’t know what Terra Nullius means, it’s a latin term meaning empty land.

That’s how Australia was occupied, the fact that it was a Terra Nullius and that was overturned in 1992 through the Mabo decision (a High Court decision that determined that traditional land rights were not extinguished by the illegal occupation of this country – ed’s note). Under the guise of Terra Nullius the British set about committing genocide of the indigenous peoples . . . and also the unbelievable destruction of our lands. If people can imagine what it was like in this country 200 years ago, you don’t know what you’ve missed out on. You don’t know anything about what life is all about.

The condition this country is in now, probably has one tenth of its beauty left, if I can put it like that. It was an absolutely beautiful country and probably the most important thing, because of the way Aboriginal people looked after the land and because of the way they respected the law of the land, was that we had something to offer our children and that was a future. That was the driving force behind our conservation.

We were always going to be here in this country. We were a part of the creation. A part of this country just like any other of the animals that are here, the flora and fauna. Aboriginal people are a crucial element in that ecology. The crucial element.

My fears are when that crucial element is finally destroyed, which it looks like it’s going to be, particularly in the areas of southern Australia where there’s been no recognition under white mans law, the land will suffer as a result. You’ve got to remember that the indigenous people have a spiritual relationship to the land. It’s vitally important.” [3].

Robbie Thorpe on Labor- and Coalition-supported Northern Territory Intervention and Aboriginal Genocide (2007): “The Howard Settler Governments invasion of the Northern territory is land-grabbing racism nothing more. This invasion is part of the neo liberal structural adjustment programme of Intuitions such as the World, Bank, and the IMF & APEC to diminish and extinguish Indigenous rights forever. It is no surprise to see that the four countries that are blocking the passage of the Draft Declaration of indigenous rights through the United Nations, Australia, New Zealand, United States & Canada, they are the same four states that as part of APEC are raping the marine ocean environment in the Pacific, and are further oppressing & eroding the hard won rights of their Indigenous Nations & Peoples through out the world and within their own countries. What is happening to our brothers and sisters in the NT, is part of that process, part of that genocide.” [4].

[1]. Robbie Thorpe, “NT Invasion – another example of genocide”, Treaty Republic, 8 July 2007: http://treatyrepublic.net/node/37 .

[2]. Irene Watson, “Talking up Aboriginal Law in a sea of Genocide. Interview with Robbie Thorpe”, Indigenous Law Bulletin, 2000: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/ILB/2000/4.html .

[3]. Robbie Thorpe, “Relationship to the Land” (taken from Native Forest Network Australian Forest Conference Papers – October 1994), Hancock Watch: http://www.hancock.forests.org.au/docs/aboriginal.htm .

[4]. Robbie Thorpe, quoted in “International Day of Action: Stop Aboriginal Genocide on Stolen Aboriginal Land”, Indymedia, 22 July 2007: http://www.indymedia.org.nz/article/73848/international-day-action-stop-aboriginal .

https://sites.google.com/site/aboriginalgenocide/thorpe-robbie

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