Monday, March 13, 2006

Remembering Empire by the Sacred Fire

The Melbourne Commonwealth Games has begun to well and truly dominate Melbourne’s skyline, traffic, social concentration and energies. There is a lot going on, not the least being a sporting meet by countries previously colonised by the British Empire.

Is this the Empire Games? I certainly think that for a while there, it was, but Britain’s influence in the world is certainly diminished over time. The US has taken over the role of the world’s big empire…

Robbie Thorpe, Aboriginal elder with the Black GST campaign, has reminded us of the Commonwealth Games’ roots in the British Empire. The campaign wants to serve Queen Elizabeth II, who is in town to open the Games, with charges of war crimes and genocide against the Aboriginal people of Australia.

As he says, the war against Aboriginal people began in 1788 when the British Fleets landed at Sydney, stuck the Union Jack in the sand and declared the land theirs. Isn't that a declaration of war? And he goes on to ask when the war was declared over!!

That is why they also want a Treaty between the Aboriginal people and white Australia. Thorpe strikes me as a brave man, principled, highly intelligent and articulate too. He is pushing for something whose time hasn’t come yet, but it is only through steps like this that a Treaty will get on the mainstream agenda.

If you want to know more, and are in Melbourne, you can visit the Black GST’s camp, where they have lit a Sacred Fire, at Kings Domain (next to Sydney Myers Music Bowl, near Governor’s House). You can also find out more about the campaign here.


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