Wangan and Jagalingou Cultural Custodians refute claims made in the media by Adani/Bravus CEO, Lucas Dow yesterday. The Traditional Owners who continue to reoccupy an area of Adani/Bravus’ mining lease to conduct the Waddananggu ceremony say Adani/Bravus is waging a smear campaign against them, and using violent security guards and intimidation to attempt to remove the cultural group. They have also released footage they say Adani/Bravus does not want the public to see.
Wangan and Jagalingou man Coedie McAvoy says
“This is not a protest, this is not a protest camp. This is not about fossil fuel activism.This is a cultural ceremony called Waddananggu (‘the talking’). We are not disrupting work on the mine site. We have been performing ceremony for over 114 days now. I am here legally under section 28 of the QLD human rights act. I am here practicing my culture and I am also here highlighting the destruction that Adani/Bravus is doing to our cultural heritage”.
“Adani’s claims that we are here squatting illegally is completely fabricated, defamatory and disregards our human rights to be here.
Adani is spreading blatant misinformation and using media outlets in a smear campaign attempt. They are trying to distract the public from the fact that they are the aggressor in our situation, their company is currently destroying our cultural heritage, including blowing up ancient artifact sites and dumping artifact material.
“Adani and Lucas Dow seem to be trying to hide from the public the fact that I am allowed to be here. I am a Traditional Owner on my own Country. They are trying to kick me off my Country again,and they are using the media to try and kick me off my Country again, like they used the media to kick my old people off their homelands. Earlier this year QLD Police issued my father with a statement of regret after Adani/Bravus used the police to unlawfully remove us from a nearby pastoral lease.”
The Wangan and Jagalingou Cultural Custodians say Adani CEO Lucas Dow’s comments in the media yesterday have nothing to do with the ceremony, and the ceremony will continue despite Adani’s attempts to disrupt it.
“Adani says that we are the minority. We are some of the few families left who hold the remaining language, songs, dances and stories, we hold the cultural sovereignty, so we must be given the right to practice our ceremonies and preserve what we have left. We have the right to conduct our ceremonies on any part of our Country that is legal for us to do so. We should also be given the right to conduct our cultural business in privacy, but there has been no privacy since the start.” Said Mr McAvoy.
“Some of the ways that Adani tries to intimidate and interrupt us include:
- Adani’s security watches the ceremony camp and films us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from when we first arrived. This is not for their protection or for ours, they are doing this to try to interrupt us, intimidate us, spy on us and antagonise us to get footage for use in their attempt to smear our reputations.
- Flies helicopters and drone directly above the camp, intruding on our privacy, looking at people when they are half naked trying to get dressed.
- Adani parks their ‘security’ cars so close to the ceremony camp that their headlights shine into our tents, keeping people awake.
- Employees stalk ceremony participants up and down the public road, and routinely follow and harass young women as they walk or ride up the road.
- In one incident, Adani security unnecessarily drove right into the back of the camp early one morning and proceeded to film. When one Traditional Owner then stood in front of a vehicle to stop them from driving back through their private camp area, a security guard grabbed this young man with both of his hands,and put an arm around his neck (see photo). The Adani employees should not have used violence and should not be trying to escalate violence. They should not have set their hand on the young man, and they shouldn’t have been in the camp in the first place.
- In another incident, I sat in a chair in front of a security vehicle in an attempt to stop the vehicle driving into the camp. Instead of staying still, or moving away from the area, the Adani employee drove the car into me” ( see video)
“Adani violates the privacy of our ceremony camp, and impinges on our right to practice our culture unhindered. Our ceremony is over 1km from the coal mine, not 200m as an Adani CEO falsely stated in the media yesterday. All interaction with security guards has been when they have come into our space, breached our privacy and made antagonistic moves to get a response from us, knowing that we have been here legally the whole time. Running people over and then saying you are there to keep them safe does not make sense”.
“In another of Adani’s recent media statements, they falsely stated that we chartered a helicopter to deliver alcohol. The fact of the matter is that some of our visitors were stuck on the road to the Waddananggu camp, caught in between two flooded crossings for 5 days and we had to rescue them when they ran out of food and water, and get our groceries delivered due to flooding in the area. On the big stations out here, getting groceries delivered by helicopter is normal in wet season. Adani employees flew over our stranded friends and did not stop to check if they were ok. Their disregard for human life is disturbing. Adani tried to make a scandal over a box of vb. My view is that Queenslanders are not going to have a problem with people having beer. I don’t even drink it myself, though it is good for damper. No one is allowed to drink alcohol in the ceremony area. Meanwhile Adani sells booze every day to their own workers. The’ve have had rape allegations, one or more deaths and a drug kingpin employee missing from the workers camp for nearly two months. It seems that Adani’s camp is the place where booze and unsafe behavior is common.”
“The real issue is that Adani don’t like us exercising our human rights to conduct our ceremony on our Country, and they don’t like people talking about how they are blowing up our cultural heritage sites, sending species extinct and damaging the sacred Doongmabulla Springs.”
Video footage and images available here.