Australians Protest Indigenous Deaths In Custody

Sunday 26 October 2014

Date: 23 October 2014

Source: TelesesurTV

Type: News

Keywords: aborigines in Australia

The death of aboriginal woman in custody after being arrested for unpaid fines sparks protests in Australia, as indigenous leaders call for a royal commission.

Rallies have been held across Australia in protest of the deaths of indigenous people in custody on Thursday, with chants including "touch one, touch all."

The protests come in direct response to the death of a young Aboriginal woman, Julieka Dhu, in police custody this year, after being arrested for unpaid fines of less than USD$1000 in the state of South Australia.

Indigenous leaders across the country are calling for another royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody.

A royal commission was conducted in 1987, and made 339 separate recommendations, but most were never implemented.

"We are asking that they all be implemented, that there be no more deaths in custody," says Lara Pullin, spokeswoman for the family of Julieka Dhu.

"We are calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the recommendations of the Royal Commission and the actual situation of indigenous people in custody," she added.

Dhu’s grandmother Carol Roe has launched an online petition in which she writes “It’s devastating to think our politicians have been told what they need to do to stop these deaths happening, but so far have refused to act.”

The Guardian reported Viv Malo, an indigenous activist as saying in Melbourne that “We seem to have legislated racism in some parts of this country. People are locked up for drinking, which is a band aid treatment, like it’s the solution for a bigger problem that’s going on here,” adding that “This is a great Australian silence.”

NSW Greens politicians David Shoebridge said that Dhu did not die because of lack of medical treatment, but because of a “racist set of laws that puts Aboriginal people in jail in Western Australia because they haven’t got money to pay fines”.

One of the recommedations that was implemented, but only in New South Wales, is a compulsorary requirement that any indigenous person who was taken to custody had to be contacted by an Aboriginal Legal Service representative. Since it began operating, there has been no deaths of an indigenous person in custody in New South Wales.###

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