Like anti-Adani protesters today, those who stood up at Jabiluka were attacked. It’s good to remember that people can prevail
ne of Australia’s proudest land rights struggles is passing an important anniversary: it is 20 years since the establishment of the blockade camp at Jabiluka in Kakadu national park. This was the moment at which push would come to shove at one of the world’s largest high-grade uranium deposits. The industry would push, and people power would shove right back.
The blockade set up a confrontation between two very different kinds of power: on the one side, the campaign was grounded in the desire for self-determination by the Mirarr traditional Aboriginal owners, particularly the formidable senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula.
They were supported by a tiny handful of experienced paid staff and backed by an international network of environment advocates, volunteer activists and researchers.
Their task, somehow, was to mobilise thousands of people to travel across the continent to put themselves in the path of heavy equipment that mining company Energy Resources of Australia (which operates the nearby Ranger uranium mine) was seeking to get on to the mineral lease before the wet season set in, and linking this effort with a broader legal, political and corporate strategy.
On the other side, people deploying the full resources of the mining industry, the Northern Territory and federal governments, with backing from the global uranium lobby, speaking through a handful of corporate media platforms at enormous volume.