Features, The Adani Saga

W&J Traditional Owners appeal for help as Qld hands their land to Adani

A ceremonial site at the W&J Traditional Owners’ camp.

The pledge is located at:

And as of Friday afternoon, had over 13,600 signatures.

To donate: https://wanganjagalingou.com.au/donate/

By Eve Sinton

Wangan & Jagalingou (W&J) Family Council members have discovered their native title over land earmarked for the Carmichael Mine has been extinguished by the Queensland government – and their land handed over, freehold, to Adani.

The government acted in secret, and only revealed their move in a meeting with W&J representatives in Brisbane this week.

Adani swiftly followed with a threatening letter to the W&J, and a visit to their camp by two staff members.

Wangan & Jagalingou cultural leader, Adrian Burragubba, said: “We have been made trespassers on our own Country. Our ceremonial grounds, in place for a time of mourning for our lands as Adani begins its destructive processes, are now controlled by billionaire miner Adani.

“With insider knowledge that the deal was already done, Adani had engaged Queensland police and threatened us with trespass.

Adani threatens to call the cops

“In a notice received by the Council, police advised the area on our country that we currently occupy “is to be handed over to Adani on 31 August 2019”. It says ‘that Adani will request the assistance of police to remove Mr Burragubba and his supporters from the camp’.”

The ABC confirmed that Queensland police have asked for help with Indigenous “cultural sensitivities” in case mining firm Adani requests traditional owners be removed from its Galilee Basin project site.

Burragubba reacted: “This Government and mining corporation, working hand in hand, had already sealed the deal in secret. They are criminalising our cultural laws and practice. It is now so perverse, that in a threatening letter from Adani Mining to our Council, denying our common law native title right to access our land, we are told we need Adani’s ‘prior consent’ to be on our own Country.”

Adani’s letter warned Burragubba he had ‘trespassed’ on its Moray Downs property by entering ‘without Adani’s prior consent’.

“Adani does not grant you such consent,” the company said.

“You … and all people accompanying you are required not to trespass on any area of the pastoral lease, nor on any other property occupied, owned or leased by Adani.”

The W&J said, “Our land has always been First Nations sovereign land, because of our culture and how we maintain our culture. And we’re not going anywhere.

“By denying us ceremony and the right to claim and maintain physical contact with the land and our ancestors, they are denying our fundamental human rights.

“This is always going to be First Nations land. They will not move us from our sacred places.”

Dilemma for Qld Police

The stand-off provides a dilemma for Queensland Police, whose cultural engagement unit has written to a native title services provider asking for help.

“It is likely that Adani will request the assistance of police to remove Mr Burragubba and his supporters from the camp,” Acting Senior Sergeant David Lucas said.

“We are looking to resolve this issue allowing for cultural sensitivities and as such would like to speak to signatories of the ILUA [Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Adani] who may be able to assist us or appeal to Mr Adrian Burragubba.”

The W&J have appealed to supporters to back their stand aganst Adani.

“Friends, the moment that threatened us has come, and we need you with us.

“Now is the time for all our supporters to stand with us in solidarity, to prevent the permanent destruction of our culture.”

People are invited to sign a pledge.

Ceremonial camp established

“We will maintain our defence of country and stay on our homelands, despite Adani demanding that police remove our people from a ceremonial camp established last weekend at the site.

“We will be there to care for our lands and waters, hold ceremonies, and uphold the ancient, abiding law of the land.”

The W&J’s legal battle to stop Adani has held up the mine for eight years.

Court hearings, where it was alleged that Adani had stacked native title meetings to achieve their desired outcome, have all rejected the W&J’s case.

Adani’s revenge

In a spiteful act of revenge, Adani has now bankrupted Adrian Burragubba over $600,000 worth of legal costs.

The company has a track record of using police or its own security goons to get rid of tribal people in the way of its Indian mines, power plants and ports.

An example is the fight for land rights and water resources in Jharkhand, where the state government is acquiring fertile farmland for Adani to set up a 1,600-megawatt plant, which will run on imported coal and sell the power to Bangladesh.

Adani said project would employ “10,000 persons” (sound familiar?). But local residents say the only livelihood generated has been a handful of temporary sand supply contracts.

Meanwhile, the company’s drilling activities have dropped the water table, causing acute water shortages.

People were injured by police when a public hearing for the project had turned violent in 2017.

Pradeep Yadav, a member of the Poreyahat Legislative Assembly, spent five months in prison for protesting against land acquisition for Adani.

A farmer’s fields were overrun with a bulldozer by Adani contractors to force the family to vacate the land.

The W&J have a formidable enemy.

• See more: Adani vs Villagers: the fight for land rights and water resources in Jharkhand


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