25 Australian native sacred tree defenders arrested

Sydney, Australia, Oct 27 (efe-epa).- The felling of trees of great spiritual and cultural importance for natives of Australia to build a road about 200 kilometers northwest of Melbourne, has caused protests that resulted in the Tuesday arrest of 25 activists fighting to preserve them.

Controversy deepened with the Monday logging of the “tree of directions,” a 350-year-old Eucalyptus melliodor of great importance to women of the djab wurrung ethnic group, who often mix the placentas of their babies with the seeds of the trees.

Through this cultural practice, native people, who are closely linked to nature, create a spiritual bond between newborns and their ancestors and provide them with a place to which they can go for orientation throughout their lives.

“I can’t express how much my heart hurts. It’s a piece of us, it’s how we connect and how we survive. My djab wurrung matriarchs are devastated,” Green Party senator Lidia Thorpe said in a Monday Facebook message.

Videos were also published of the djab wurrung people’s protests and actions Tuesday amid fears that other sacred trees for the natives will be felled while legal ways to protect them are sought.

Victoria State Police told EFE that 25 people had been arrested Tuesday, and that tents and protesters from the areas where this $112 million highway is being built among the towns of Buangor and Ararat.

“We have some people protecting the ‘grandfather’ and ‘grandmother’ trees,” an activist says in a video posted on Facebook Tuesday by the Whistleblowers, Activists and Communities Alliance group, in which they shout “always was, always it is and always will be aboriginal lands.”

“How can we celebrate the relaxation of restrictions when a culturally sacred tree has been destroyed?” The National Legal Service for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders said on Twitter, referring to the announcement of Melbourne’s deconfinement.

Thomas Parkes, a resident of the djab wurrung lands, tweeted that “in 180 years not much has changed. The policy of ‘white Australia’ is reinforced by Daniel Andrews (head of government of Victoria),” referring to the mistreatment of native peoples after British colonization.

The incident on djab wurrung lands marks more than four months since mining company Rio Tinto blew up two 46,000-year-old Aboriginal caves to expand its iron ore mining operations in the Pilbara region of north-western Australia. EFE-EPA


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