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Police Violently Defend Criminal Uranium Mine

MEDIA RELEASE 9TH MAY 2000

Flinders Ranges Environment Action Collective South Australia

POLICE VIOLENTLY DEFEND CRIMINAL URANIUM MINE

The peaceful protesters, outside Heathgate Resources’ Beverley Uranium mine, in the north of South Australia, retreated this morning when riot police descended upon their camp. The camp, containing more than 100 protesters, from twenty countries worldwide, was established in response to a call from Adnyamathanha people to stop the poisoning of their people and country through Acid In-Situ Leach Uranium mining, on their land at Beverley.

Acid In-Situ Leach mining is a highly dangerous method of extraction that has resulted in extensive ground water contamination in Eastern Europe. Beverley would not have been approved in any other OECD nation.

Adnyamathanha elder Ron Coultard and Arabunna Elder Kevin Buzzacott spoke of their struggle against General Atomics (US owners of Heathgate) and Western Mining this morning, before supporters walked onto the mine lease. Supporters of all ages, and nationalities, walked onto the mine, in a peaceful statement, and took themselves on a tour to witness the development which Adnyamathanha say is destroying their Emu Dreaming Sacred Site.

Police militia and STAR FORCE, who had been flown in from around the country, responded irrationally and were quick to attack these concerned international citizens. Police were armed with guns, batons, shields and capsicum spray which they used freely on these unarmed people. Protesters were picked out and beaten before being forced into police vans and pepper sprayed. A eleven year old Adnyamathanha girl was capsicum sprayed in the face and a Channel 7 camera man was attacked then arrested for his footage.

Kelvin Johnston, an Adnymathanha man, was disgusted by the blatant brutality of the police force, which is a clear indication that both state and federal governments disregard the traditional law of Indigenous elders. They are targeting even the weakest individuals, including his eleven year old niece Helen Gowans, who was sprayed with capsicum whilst retreating from the mine.

“Our traditional right to walk this land must be respected.” He stated today.

Most protesters have sustained injuries from police beatings and the effects of pepper spray (mace). More than twenty five people have been detained and two taken 600 kilometers to Port Augusta. Police continued to use pepper spray as well as verbal and physical assault, while protesters were in custody.

Sam Hoffmann, who was arrested today, stated:

“We have suffered Human Rights abuses whilst held by Police in a sealed shipping container and subjected to welding gases for up to half an hour. There was no light and we thought that the oxygen would run out. I felt that my life was in danger.”

The remaining people have sought refuge as they were given one hour to leave but were immediately set upon by star force with beatings occurring while people were attempting to pack up.

The international camp occupied the lease gate for the past three days to stop work at the mine and draw attention to the genocide of Adnyamathanha People and the long term poisoning caused by Uranium mining. While extremely distressed by the assault, Adnyamathanha people and supporters are strong in their opposition to Uranium mining and the genocidal acts of Heathgate Resources and the Governments.

William Taylor, a representative of F.R.E.A.C, states:

“The people that should be under arrest are Heathgate Resources and the South Australian police force. Heathgate for genocide and ecocide and the S.A police force for gross and violent abuses of human rights.”…”it seems to me that increasingly the police, in particular S.T.A.R force is being employed as a private security force to protect these Uranium dealers.” A national inquiry has to be made into the brutal police tactics used to support the uranium industry.”

For more information, video/stills or support offered please contact:

FLINDERS RANGES ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION COLLECTIVE Phone and fax 08 8675 2242


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