First Nations people have been forcibly removed by police from the Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy on DjabWurrung Country on Tuesday.
This follows the removal of Djab Wurrung’s sacred ancestral Directions Tree on Monday after Victorian Police dismantled the embassy camp, sending 15 vehicles to the site to pave the way for contractors.
Currently those removed from the embassy are gathering at Alexandra Gardens Park in Ararat.
Whistleblowers Activists and Communities Alliance (WACA) has been posting regular updates to Twitter. They shared footage of the removal earlier on Tuesday.
Footage from the #DjabWurrung Embassy showing a Djab Wurrung woman who has been protecting the trees for two years being dragged off their country by victorian police. This is colonialism. This is racism This is cultural and environmental genocide! @DanielAndrewsMP pic.twitter.com/TKcwrvnSrA
— WACA (@akaWACA) October 27, 2020
Right now @DanielAndrewsMP is committing cultural genocide with Victorian police. Dragging sovereign Djab Wurrung women off their land. Chopping down ancient sacred trees. Shame! Get the word out and head to the embassy now! Live stream here. https://t.co/Olc06fZpKh pic.twitter.com/2ydYbvt6zf
— WACA (@akaWACA) October 26, 2020
It is alleged that the highway has been blocked in both directions of Ararat. It is also alleged Victorian police have blocked media access to the embassy.
Victorian Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe was positioned at Djab Wurrung embassy, posting from her personal Twitter.
DjabWurrung land protectors being arrested and forcibly removed from country whilst ancestor trees are being desecrated @DanielAndrewsMP @sussanley you have DjabWurrung blood on your hands 🩸 pic.twitter.com/9zGNrEF7TT
— Lidia Thorpe (@lidia__thorpe) October 26, 2020
Other witnesses at the site have been posting to Twitter, documenting the forced removal.
On #DjabWurrung country, 180 years on, not much has changed.#WhiteAustralia policy being enforced by the @DanielAndrewsMP government. #SpringSt @roadprojectsvic @vicroads @LilyDAmbrosioMP @lidia__thorpe pic.twitter.com/a5DcSoYPWZ
— Thomas Parkes (@_thomasparkes) October 26, 2020
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who announced on Monday the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, has been criticised for his lack of transparency regarding yesterday’s enforced police presence at Djab Wurrung embassy.
In a press conference Tuesday morning, Andrews was questioned directly regarding the destruction of the Djab Wurrung Directions Tree.
“There has been direct consultation with the 12 families who essentially comprised that Traditional Owner group. And we have done what we said we would do,” he said.
“This is a dangerous road. It needs to be built. We promised we would. We’ve engaged. And we’ve been true to the spirit of the agreements that had been entered into.”
When pushed about the cultural value of the site, the Premier responded saying they had come to an agreement that he knew “not everybody would be supportive of”.
“If we waited around to get 100 per cent buy-in on this, if we waited around for an absolute consensus, then that deadly stretch of road would go unimproved, and we would see more people dying on that road. And I’m just not prepared to settle for that.”
By Rachael Knowles