An Interview With Dunghutti Activist Paul Silva

January 18, 2024by Naomi Cramer


The 12 months since final yr’s Invasion Day protest and subsequent week’s have been tumultuous in regard to Indigenous affairs, to say that least. Not solely did the federal government stage an unsuccessful Indigenous Voice referendum, however it’s been supporting genocide upon the Palestinians of Gaza.

The theme of final yr’s Invasion Day rally was “Vote No to the Referendum”, as grassroots First Nations activists asserted that the Indigenous voice to parliament that was supposed to supply nonbinding recommendation on Aboriginal development didn’t spell the way in which ahead for self-determination.

However whereas greater than 60 p.c of the nation did vote towards it, this was no candy victory, because the overwhelming majority of the constituency that did, have been beneath the affect of the misinformation marketing campaign run by Dutton and the opposition that posited the Voice as all too highly effective.

And in a despicable betrayal of all these First Nations individuals who stood beside Anthony Albanese in assist of the Sure marketing campaign, the PM corrected a journalist on Christmas, explaining that the referendum wasn’t a loss for him, however it was for First Nations individuals however “they’re used to hardship”.

Perpetuating founding crimes

South Africa charged Israel with genocide on the Worldwide Court of Justice final week. And it famous the varied types of genocide, which embody killing, inflicting severe bodily or psychological hurt, inflicting bodily damaging circumstances, stopping births or the forcible elimination of children.

To cost this nation with perpetrating genocide has lengthy been frowned upon, regardless of many First Nations rights advocates and students having laid the declare. But, over the past three months, it has turn into obvious that charging this nation with the crime is healthier than pointing the finger at Israel.

And the declare that genocide is constant to happen on this continent is commonly asserted as nicely, which entails arguments that place Aboriginal deaths in custody left unpunished because the killing of a particular group to destroy it, partly or in entire, whereas ongoing compelled child removals additionally suits the invoice.

So, to have Albanese herald his victory into workplace as a win for First Nations, solely to drop the ball on the referendum and permit Indigenous peoples to expertise that as solely their very own loss after which to assist the colonial crime of the century, is maybe not what his election speech foretold.

Nonetheless no justice

The federal government’s Demise in Custody web site outlines that there have been 558 First Nations deaths in custody for the reason that 1991 Royal Fee. However it neglects to say that no police or jail officer has ever been convicted over any of those deaths, regardless of some questionable circumstances.

The footage regarding 26-year-old David Dungay Junior’s demise by the hands of Lengthy Bay specialist jail guards is a working example. And as David’s nephew Dunghutti activist Paul Silva explains, regardless of this proof and a number of makes an attempt to reopen the case, NSW authorities are set on denying justice.

Sydney Criminal lawyers spoke to Paul Silva in regards to the frustration of elevating these points repeatedly with a authorities that chooses to not hear, the opposite points that shall be prioritised at subsequent week’s protest and The Blak Caucus, which is a Sydney-based group organising this yr’s occasion.

Dunghutti social justice activist Paul Silva

Paul, one of many outstanding points that shall be raised subsequent week at Invasion Day protests throughout the continent is constant Black Deaths in Custody.

There was lots of concentrate on this problem in mid-2020 on the time of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. So, how would you say this problem stands at current?

We’re in misery. We want fast motion surrounding these occasions. We want fast motion to carry individuals criminally accountable, so we are able to forestall this from persevering with.

The statistics from final yr present that Indigenous deaths in custody are rising, fairly dramatically. It now stands at round 558 Aboriginal deaths in custody for the reason that 1991 Royal Fee.

As an individual who has been energetic on this problem for nearly the previous decade now, we’ve been demanding the federal government implement all of the Royal Fee suggestions round deaths in custody, for therefore lengthy. And clearly, they haven’t performed that but.

In your opinion, what ought to the federal government be doing proper now on deaths in custody?

We want the Albanese authorities to hear and meet on the desk with the Blak Caucus, so we are able to talk about these points.

Regardless of the federal government having tried to implement a Voice to Parliament, we’ve been demanding these different points be reviewed and handled, however our calls for haven’t been met.

Clearly, the calls for on Australia round deaths in custody will proceed at each single rally inside the Sydney Basin and throughout Australia till the federal government implements reforms.

First Nations deaths in custody is a matter that you just’ve spoken about on many events because of the demise of your uncle Dunghutti man David Dungay Junior by the hands of jail guards.

Just some weeks in the past, it was the eight anniversary of David’s demise. What are your ideas for the struggle for justice in regard to David Dungay Junior at current?

I’ve at all times mentioned Aboriginal deaths in custody is just like the Stolen Generations and the First Fleet arrival, however as a substitute of mass murdering individuals, they’re doing it behind closed doorways.

The federal government permits individuals to stroll free from murdering one other particular person simply because they’re employed by the NSW police, Corrective Providers NSW or Justice Well being.

It’s irritating that we’ve needed to repeatedly demand adjustments round deaths in custody.

For myself, it’s been eight years that we haven’t obtained any justice for David Dungay Junior, who was my uncle that perished by the hands of guards at Lengthy Bay correctional facility in 2015.

It does include its ups and downs, and, at the moment, it’s extra irritating than ever to return to phrases on daily basis with no justice coming for David.

Our calls for, in the mean time, are falling on deaf ears and blind eyes. However we received’t cease till they really do one thing about it.

That’s not only for David, however for a lot of different households as nicely.

A lot of the nationwide narrative final yr involved Indigenous affairs because of the referendum.

So, what are going to be a number of the different focuses for this yr’s occasion? What’s going to these mobilising be demanding?

Organisers have applied quite a few calls for this yr. As grassroots Indigenous individuals, we’re demanding that Australia Day be abolished. And we demand that the suggestions of the Royal Fee into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody be applied.

We wish an finish to the battle on Black children and compelled removals. We wish to shut down youth prisons.

We wish to cease Black deaths in custody, and we wish to see SafeWork NSW and the Director of Public Prosecutions prosecute these concerned in these deaths.

We’re calling for defense of Aboriginal lands and waters from mining and local weather destruction.

And we would like politicians, like Chris Minns, Anthony Albanese and Linda Burney, to fulfill with the households of deaths in custody.

And lastly, Paul, this yr’s Sydney Invasion Day protest is being hosted by The Blak Caucus. Are you able to define who they’re and what they stand for?

The Blak Caucus is made up of Sydney-based grassroots Indigenous activists. It mobilises and organisers occasions with course from Conventional Homeowners on Gadigal.

We’re a passionate and decided group of Indigenous mob, who wish to make change for a greater future not only for Indigenous individuals, however for individuals proper throughout Australia.

We’re decided to make change for the higher.

The Sydney Invasion Day Rally and March 2024 is assembly at 10 am on Thursday 26 January at Sydney’s Belmore Park. Protesters will march to Broadway’s Victoria Park, the place the Yabun Pageant shall be happening.



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by Naomi Cramer

Auckland Lawyer for FIRST TIME Offenders Seeking to Avoid a Conviction. Family Law Expert in Child Care Custody Disputes. If you are facing Court Naomi will make you feel comfortable every step of the way.  As a consummate professional your goals become hers, with customer service as our top priority. It has always been Naomi’s philosophy to approach whatever you do in life with bold enthusiasm and pure dedication. Complement this with her genuine passion for equal justice and rights for all and you have the formula for success. Naomi is a highly skilled Court lawyer having practised for more than 20 years. She serves the greater Auckland region and can travel to represent clients throughout NZ With extensive experience, an analytical eye for detail, and continuing legal education Naomi’s skill set will maximise your legal rights whilst offering a holistic approach that best fits your individual needs. This is further enhanced with her high level of support and understanding. Naomi will redefine what you expect from your legal professional, facilitating a seamless experience from start to finish.   Her approachable and adaptive demeanor serves her well when working with the diverse cultures that make up the Auckland region. Blend her open and honest approach to her transparent process and you can see why she routinely delivers the satisfying results her clients deserve. If you want to maximise your legal rights, we recommend you book an appointment with Naomi today so she can detail the steps for you to achieve your goals. 

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