Anti mining protestors disrupted one of the nation’s largest industry events through mass civil disobedience on the week ending October 31.
Extinction Rebellion Victoria demonstrators gathered outside the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on South Wharf.
The protest attracted more than 1200 RSVPs on social media but a live video streamed on Facebook showed there were only several people. They held banners with messages like “earth can’t breathe”, “whales not gas rigs”, “f–k fossil fuel IMARC 2019 – shut it down” and “blockade IMARC for climate justice, worst climate criminals”.
Krautungalung man of the Gunnai Nation Robbie Thorpe accused “greedy” mining companies of annihilating Indigenous people, and compared the civil disobedience to an 18th Century Aboriginal uprising that prevented “terrorist” Captain James Cook from landing in the East Gippsland coastal region.
“[Cook] tried to land on the Ninety Mile Beach, we prevented him from landing and set the East Coast on fire to stop him, we knew exactly what these people are about,” Thorpe could be heard saying on the video. “A genocide isn’t done by individuals, it is done by corporations and governments – that’s who do it in your name.”
Thorpe accused Yallourn in the state’s La Trobe Valley of being home to the “worst” mining companies that are allegedly responsible for killing Indigenous people and creating the “worst carbon footprint on earth”. He warned the industry that ghosts of those lives lost would avenge their deaths.
“It is a disgrace and what does this correlate with? Extermination of the original people,” he said. “Heal those ancestors’ spirits – that is my longing and, if you don’t do that, you are doomed. Our ancestors are going to punish you.”
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Victoria Police deployed hundreds of officers to ensure the safety of conference attendees. The protestors have published a proposed schedule to the Blockade IMARC Facebook page that includes swarming around the venue, speeches, and wearing Halloween costumes to scare people attending the conference.
Police acting commander for the north west metro region Tim Tully confirmed a total of 11 groups are planning to protest in the CBD throughout the week.