Sydney: Protect The Block! Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy Facing Eviction – 23 Feb! (Au$tralia)

The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Sydney is facing eviction on Monday 23rd February. The Embassy are calling for people to come down and help them resist eviction.

The embassy plans to apply for an injunction Monday against the eviction order, which was issued by the Aboriginal Housing Corporation (AHC) on Friday afternoon. The order demands the total dismantling of Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy, which has been a 24 hour protest camp since May 2014. In an area known as the ‘Block’, it sits wedged between Redfern Station and Eveleigh Street. It’s a sparse green oval resting on a grey concrete slope. On first glance it’s as unassuming and ordinary as its namesake would suggest. But the tents have only catalysed the political discontent and community activism that has boiled below the suburb’s surface for years.

The site has grown over the months to include vegetable patches and a seed bank, a sacred fire pit, kitchen and a collection of tents. The embassy was established to protest a controversial redevelopment plan for the Block – a chunk of Sydney’s Redfern suburb where Indigenous Australians have been promised affordable housing since the 1970s. When the AHC first began to be handed parts of what would later become the Block in the 1970s, it was widely viewed as a major victory in the battle for Indigenous land rights. The entire area was earmarked for affordable housing for Indigenous Australians.

However, since 2004, low cost housing in the area has been gradually razed, in 2014, the AHC announced it was planning a AU$70 million (US$55 million) commercial redevelopment, which would include office blocks and lucrative student accommodation.

Property investors have been promised a suburb “free of Aboriginals,” but protesters in Sydney’s most well-known Indigenous community aren’t giving in without a fight.

“We will refuse their orders. We will stay here. They will have to move us physically I suppose,” Gamillaroi elder and veteran activist Jenny Munro told the Sydney Morning Herald.

According to Munro, occupants of the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy (RATE) were slapped with eviction notices at mid-afternoon, and given a 48-hour window to respond. That means activists must take their case to a court before Sunday afternoon.

“He served it knowing we won’t be able to access the courts. It’s just more filthy politics,” Munro stated, referring to Michael Mundine. Mundine is the CEO of the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC), which administers a chunk of the Redfern suburb known as the Block.

Yet an advertisement aimed at property investors has promised the AHC’s redevelopment will deliver a suburb free of Indigenous Australians.

“The Aboriginals have already moved out, now Redfern is the last virgin suburb close to city, it will have great potential for capital growth in the near future,” read an advert published by Great Fortune Investments’ for property developer Deicorp.

Deicorp has been engaged by the AHC to carry out construction of an apartment block in Redfern.

Without any Indigenous Australians living in the suburb, Diecorp’s apartments would offer property investors “good rental return and convenient location,” according to the advertisement.

Activists have responded by accusing the AHC of selling out. They argue the AHC is cooperating with what they say is a government plan to gentrify Redfern. Munro also stated that the AHC under its current CEO Michael Mundine is using the redevelopment to try to cash in on lucrative property deals, at the expense of the company’s original mandate to provide affordable housing for Indigenous Australians.

“It’s Aboriginal land. No one gives him the right to do this,” Munro said, urging supporters to rally with the embassy before the development can start in earnest. “Make a stand now or be silent forever,”“It’s been demolitions and drug addiction under this administration of Mick Mundine. And well, because greed knows no color, there are some of our people who work for the government’s agenda,” Munro said during an interview with progressive newspaper Green Left Weekly earlier this month.

“There have been three purges of Aboriginal people from Redfern — in the late 70s, late 80s and now this latest purge. Redfern used to have the biggest urban population of Aboriginal people in Australia. Now it is western Sydney, as our community has been pushed out of the inner city. So we are saying ’enough,’” she stated.

Since the Aboriginal embassy was founded in May 2014 to protest the AHC’s redevelopment plans, the site has grown to include vegetable patches and a seed bank, a sacred fire pit, kitchen and a collection of tents.

Yet, activists involved in the embassy say they have been regularly harassed and pressured to leave the Block.

Munro herself claims authorities tried to intimidate her when police charged her with assault in December.

She was accused of engaging in an altercation on The Block with a resident of a nearby area.

In a statement obtained by website New Matilda, Munro’s lawyer Lisa De Luca said the Indigenous elder was “acting in self-defense” and claimed activists themselves are the main victims of violence.

“Since May 2014, Ms. Munro and other occupants have been subjected to threats, intimidation and assaults by people connected with the Aboriginal Housing Company,” De Luca alleged. “All of these acts of violence have been perpetrated against the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy with the sole purpose of stopping the protest.”





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This entry was posted on Sunday, February 22nd, 2015 at 4:02 pm and is filed under Autonomy.