Australia has a new "black power" movement -- and its leaders have just revealed plans for a trip to Peking in April.
Australia has a new "black power" movement -- and its leaders have just revealed plans for a trip to Peking in April. They say arrangements are in hand with authorities in the People's Republic of China for a group to be in Peking before May Day. The announcement came at a self-styled "black power embassy" set up outside Parliament House, Canberra, where members of the movement are protesting government policy on aboriginal land rights.
The Australian "black power" movement takes the American name -- "Black Panthers." It is a new, militant expression of a campaign being waged for an advance in the general treatment of aborigines and for recognition of rights to tribal land. One of the leaders is Dennis Walker, aged 25, whose mother, Mrs Kath Walker, is a leading poet. Mrs Walker, who was awarded the MBE, has campaigned for years form a better deal for aborigines -- but in a far different way then her son.
The Australian "Black Panthers" say they are dedicated to violence as a means of focusing national and world-wide attention on the plight of the aboriginal. This, they say, is the only way aborigines will force better conditions from the white majority. One big issue is land rights. Aborigines want title to their own traditional tribal grounds which they regard as sacred. They have protested the inroads of mining interests on these areas and have taken the land rights question interests on these areas and have taken the land rights question to court only to hear a verdict that Australian law does not recognise aboriginal title to land. The government, on Australia Day this year (January 26) announced that new style land leases are to be available to aborigines under changed government policies. However, to qualify for leases aborigines will have to show they intend, and are able, to make reasonable economic and social use of the land.
The "Black Power" movement says Australia is the only country yet to grant tribal land rights to its native citizens. They say that land rights to an aborigine means life itself on sacred ground -- to the white Australian, it means money.
Militant Dennis Walker has led aborigine demonstrations in several parts of the country on the land rights issue. One, in Brisbane, led to fierce clashes with police.
His mother, for so long identified with the black civil rights movement in Australia, is disturbed a the new power tactics being employed by her son and the "Panthers.". She recognises the growing struggle by her people for identification, but states that the aborigines make up one per cent of the Australian population. Militant revolution, in her eyes, is therefore illogical.
Mrs walker says she will go into semi-retirement to Stradbroke Island, off the Queensland coast, where she will concentrate on setting up a flora reserve.
Her son describes the "Panthers" as a political education and self defence group; defends the right to bear arms and insists that "defensive violence" is necessary to oppose "oppre??? violence" of the "system."