The Guardian 10 August, 2005

Hiroshima Day in 2005

Bob Briton

Hiroshima Day events in Adelaide last Saturday focused on the South Australian connection to the international trade in nuclear fuel and its expanding role in supply of the raw materials needed for nuclear weapons. This year's march from Victoria Square to Tandanya national Aboriginal cultural institute took place against a backdrop of growing international tensions and increased pressure from mining interests for more uranium mines and the building of nuclear power plants in Australia.


Dr Irene Watson chaired the first part of the public meeting at Tandanya and introduced speakers Mike Dunphy (President of the Japan-Australia Friendship Society), Dr David Palmer (Senior Lecturer in American Studies at Flinders University), Yami Lester (Chairman of the Yankunytjatjara Council and Maralinga survivor), Ruth Russell (Women's International League for Peace and Freedom) and Professor Richard Broinowsky (former diplomat and expert of Australian nuclear policy).

Anangu people speak out

Yami Lester also spoke at the later meeting at which the traditional owners of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands spoke out against changes to SA's Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act 1981. Elders fear these might be used to allow more unwanted uses like uranium mining on the lands. Yami was joined by fellow elder Gary Lewis from Pukatja, Simone Ulalka Tur and Lowitja O'Donoghue in condemning the haste with which the Rann government is rushing through the complex changes.

There are concerns that the SA legislation will combine with moves by the federal government to strip away the few rights left to traditional owners. The proposed legislation has caused splits among the Anangu people with the officially recognised APY Executive and some community members siding with the government while most support the position of the Anangu traditional owners.

At a weekend meeting on the APY lands in June, the Executive moved and had carried a motion of acceptance of the bill's changes on the second day, but by that stage most of the traditional owners had had to go home. The complex document had only been distributed to participants the week before the gathering.

The government has refused elders' pleas for a period of six to 12 months before the introduction of the amending bill to allow the community time to digest and understand the implications. It also turned down a request for an independent lawyer to assist them in decoding the full import of the bill.

Wesley Uniting Care has made some funds available for the hiring of an independent lawyer for the community but it is not enough. A fund has been established along with the Land Rights Coalition and the Anangu Justice in Our Land Campaign. Donations to the campaign should for the time being be sent to Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR SA) Commonwealth Bank Account no 06 5006 10075342. More information can be obtained from Gary Lewis in Pukatja, phone 08 8956 2816 or Yami Lester in Wallatina on 08 8670 5077. A video about the Kupa Piti Indigenous peoples' protests at uranium mining, entitled We of the Small Voices, is also available.

A flag representing the Anangu people was also launched on the day.

Over 1500 people rallied in Sydney's Hyde Park last Saturday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the nuclear attacks against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They then marched through the city centre chanting "$60 million every day cut military spending!", and "Hiroshima, Nagasaki now DU weapons kill Iraqis!". Denis Doherty, Chair of the Hiroshima Day Committee, addressed the rally drawing the link between the legacy of Hiroshima and the presence of the Pine Gap US spy base in Australia today. "We say there must be an end to any alliance which causes us to be complicit in nuclear war strategy. No longer are we prepared to give up our soil for the prosecution of nuclear wars and other wars through intelligence gathering and training bases. We say no!"

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