Chinese embassy in US blames hackers for retweet of Trump’s election fraud claim | World News

The Chinese embassy in the US has said its Twitter account was hacked after it retweeted a baseless claim from President Donald Trump that the Democrats cheated in the election.

“If somebody cheated in the Election, which the Democrats did, why wouldn’t the Election be immediately overturned? How can a Country be run like this?,” Mr Trump tweeted on Wednesday, without any evidence.

The social media post was retweeted by the Chinese embassy – and the moment was captured by a Reuters reporter who posted an image of the retweet on his Twitter account and wrote: “Interesting retweet.”

The Chinese embassy claimed it was hacked and had not retweeted anything on Wednesday.

It tweeted: “The Chinese Embassy twitter account was hacked this afternoon and we condemn such an act. For clarification, the Embassy didn’t do any retweeting on Dec.9.”

Twitter had labelled Mr Trump’s tweet, saying: “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”

Mr Trump has consistently made allegations about voter and election fraud without offering any proof – claims that have been repeatedly rejected by state and federal officials.

In his latest legal effort to overturn the election, the president and the 17 states that backed him have thrown their weight behind a Texas lawsuit against the states of Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The president is asking the Supreme Court to prevent those states from participating in the all-important Electoral College vote on Monday.

Election law experts have said the Texas lawsuit stands little chance of success and lacks legal merit.

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Donald Trump says Democrats ‘cheated’

The retweet dispute also comes just days after China criticised the US over sanctions against Chinese officials for their actions in Hong Kong.

China’s foreign ministry summoned the top US diplomat in China to express “strong indignation and strong condemnation” and vowed to take “reciprocal” action.

The US on Monday imposed financial sanctions and a travel ban on 14 Chinese officials over their role in adopting a national security law for Hong Kong, and Beijing’s disqualification last month of elected opposition legislators in Hong Kong.

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China’s grip on Hong Kong tightens

China has been accused of breaking the “one country, two systems” pledge to maintain greater political and economic freedoms, made when the UK handed back the territory in 1997.

Many around the world believe the territory’s controversial new security law will violate Hong Kong’s traditional liberties, including a free press, independent judiciary, and the right to protest.

Beijing insists Hong Kong’s freedoms will be protected and that the law is necessary to restore order to the city.

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U.S. reportedly considered abducting Assange from Ecuadorian embassy

Witness statements towards the journalistic integrity of Julian Assange have been heard in court, debunking various myths in the process. Sara Chessa reports from the UK.

THE EXTRADITION HEARING of Julian Assange closed last month in London’s Central Criminal Court, the world-famous “Old Bailey”. We will have to wait until 4 January next year for the decision of the Judge. However, the Court heard impressive and authoritative witness statements highlighting the importance of Assange’s journalistic work and years of smear campaigns carried out by those states which were embarrassed by the way WikiLeaks disclosures made civil society aware of war crimes and the reality of the public interest.

Reconstructing the events starting from these accounts means getting out of the chronic opinionism of our time and taking the first fundamental step to return to the concrete facts. Therefore, while we wait for Judge Vanessa Baraitser to announce her decision, let’s go through the main myths that have been debunked by the witness statements heard at the Old Bailey.

Assange hearing starts as celebrities join the activists in support

Many are showing support for Julian Assange during his extradition hearing and uniting in the fight against the war on journalism.

Debunked myth one: On the redaction of the classified documents

The subtle game of the prosecution has been to deny that the charges against Mr Assange are about the disclosure of information that the public had the right to know, such as the Collateral Murder video. They have rather claimed to have identified WikiLeaks fault in the failure to redact the secret papers in deleting names of people who gave information to the American military and intelligence services whose life could have been in danger after the release.

However, several WikiLeaks media partners were heard in Court testifying that strenuous steps had been taken by Wikileaks to redact any names before the release of documents.

John Goetz, the German journalist who collaborated with WikiLeaks on their reporting about the U.S. military Afghan and Iraq War logs before publication, testified under oath that the redaction initiative put in place by Assange was “robust” and had involved a huge investment by WikiLeaks, both financially and in human resources.

The Court also heard from one of the most celebrated whistleblowers in history, former U.S. Marines officer Daniel Ellsberg, best known for leaking to the New York Times in 1970 the huge tranche of U.S. Government documents on the Vietnam War – the “Pentagon Papers” – showing that the American Government had lied to the public from the very beginning of the conflict.

Ellsberg told the packed court that Assange’s approach was the exact opposite of that of a reckless publication. He also explained that the U.S. Government could have prevented sensitive names from being released merely by revealing those that raised concerns, so they could be redacted. They didn’t do this, Ellsberg suggested, so to leave open the possibility of future prosecution.

Ellsberg noted that in recent years he has been praised as a hero by people who he said used to call him a traitor, “as a weapon against Julian Assange”. He added that he could see no difference between WikiLeaks disclosures and his leaks of the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam conflict. And about the redaction, Ellsberg said that the Pentagon documents he leaked “contained thousands of names”, including one of a CIA officer who had been involved in a political assassination and was a personal friend of his. “I didn’t want anyone to be able to say I had edited things,” he testified.

JOHN PILGER: Julian Assange’s Stalinist trial mocks democracy

John Pilger gave this address outside the Central Criminal Court in London on September 7 as Julian Assange’s extradition hearing entered its final stage.

Debunked myth two: On the Trump supporters desperately believing he was going to save Assange

If before September hearings we could have said that only a complete ignorance of the case had led people to think of U.S. President Donald Trump as a “hope” for Assange, now, after listening to the witness statements, we have a complete dossier of facts proving how harshly the incumbent U.S. President is fighting against WikiLeaks and investigative journalism.

The U.S. commentator Cassandra Fairbanks, who described herself as a “working journalist” and a supporter of Donald Trump, said she was a member of a “direct messaging group” including former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and a man named Arthur Schwartz, a wealthy Republican donor and advisor to the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr.

In October 2013, she posted an interview with Assange’s mother on the group and received a phone call from Schwartz, which she described as “extremely angry”.

The counsellor invited her to “stop claiming that Assange should receive a pardon” because the pardon “would not be there”. During further communications, Schwartz told her that the Government could have arranged for Assange’s abduction from the Ecuadorian embassy. When she told him that “it would be an act of war,” Schwartz replied: “Not if they let us.”

After the arrest of the WikiLeaks publisher, Fairbanks said Schwartz texted her to say Assange “deserved to die” and that “everyone involved with WikiLeaks should be executed”.

The Court was also presented with a statement of lawyer Jennifer Robinson. She swore that she attended a meeting in August 2017 at the London Ecuadorian Embassy with Assange, then American Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and conservative writer Charles Johnson. During the conversation, the Congressman told the group that a full presidential pardon would be available if WikiLeaks would publicly say that his source of leaked documents from the American Democratic Party released in 2016 was not Russia and suggested that Assange “play ball”.

According to WikiLeaks’ ethics, for whom revealing sources is unacceptable, Assange refused the offer. Despite the media having already been told this story, as a sworn statement in court, it acquires a different value. For sure, it confirms there wasn’t any sympathy for Assange by Trump, it only highlights his attempt to exploit the WikiLeaks founder to save his back.

Assange’s detention violates international law: Australia must intervene

On the 7th of September, Julian Assange is scheduled to appear in a British court for several weeks of hearings regarding the U.S. attempt to extradite him.

Moreover, the nave vision of Trump as Assange’s saviour does not match with the witness statement of Mark Feldstein, Professor in the Journalism Department of the University of Maryland.

He told the Court that the Trump Administration wanted a “head on a spike” to discourage future leaks.

Feldstein explained that in 2010 and 2011, the Obama Administration wanted to prosecute WikiLeaks. However, the Justice Department stated that this would have been unconstitutional and would have set a precedent that could lead to many other journalists being prosecuted, as Assange’s conduct was “too similar” to that of journalists in hundreds of different newspapers.

However, the Trump Administration decided to prosecute him anyway, leveraging the attempt by Assange to access classified documents. “It can’t be right that the only way journalists can get information is anonymously by post,” Feldstein said, concluding by highlighting that the nature of the accusation showed that the Trump Administration had journalism firmly in its sights.

Debunked myth three: On the fact that Assange prosecution will only destroy his life

Key witnesses have been clear: Assange’s conviction would criminalise all journalists.

Trevor Timm, the founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, told the court that there have been numerous attempts by the U.S. Government to use espionage charges against journalists and none have ever succeeded. His qualified opinion is that this prosecution would mean that any journalist in possession of confidential information could be arrested.

As he explained, if the charges against Assange were applied in 1970, the journalists who revealed the Watergate scandal under the Richard Nixon Administration – Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein – could have been thrown in jail under this standard. Reconnecting the issue to the present, he said that if asking a source for classified information is espionage, then the secure “dropbox” systems used by more than 80 publications worldwide to encourage whistleblowers to send them information would also be illegal, since they “solicit classified information” – one of the charges against Assange.

Despite this, we are still waiting for a massive reaction from journalists. Of course, the International Federation of Journalists has taken action and the UK National Union of Journalists is finally organising to do the same. However, a lot of work still needs to be done to explain the impact that a decision to extradite Assange would have on the freedom of the press to inform the public, so the people could truly assess the action of their rulers.

Sara Chessa is a UK-based independent journalist. You can follow Sara on Twitter @sarachessa1.

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JOHN PILGER: Julian Assange’s Stalinist trial mocks democracy

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Gunman Fires on Saudi Embassy in The Hague

AMSTERDAM — A gunman opened fire outside the Saudi Embassy in The Hague on Thursday, local police officials said, a day after a World War I commemoration attended by European officials was attacked in Saudi Arabia.

No one was injured in what was an extremely rare attack on embassies or other diplomatic missions in the Netherlands, and it was not immediately clear whether the shooting was related to the violence in Saudi Arabia a day earlier.

The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, has voiced strong support for France in the aftermath of the beheading of a teacher in October by an Islamist extremist. The teacher had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a class on freedom of expression.

The renewed debate over publishing caricatures of the prophet has been followed by a series of attacks in France and other countries. On Wednesday, an explosion at a non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, wounded at least three people attending a ceremony organized by the French Consulate to commemorate the end of World War I.

The police in The Hague said in a tweet that the shooting at the Saudi Embassy happened at 6 a.m. Thursday, and they urged witnesses to come forward.

The embassy is in the center of The Hague, in open view of a busy street with a major tram line passing in front of it. The building and several windows were riddled with bullet holes.

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Anti-Macron Protesters Gather Outside French Embassy in Moscow

Protesters gathered outside the French Embassy in Moscow on Thursday and Friday to picket against French President Emmanuel Macron.

In comments that angered many Muslims this week, Macron defended the right to publish controversial cartoons as part of France’s secular tradition following the beheading of a French teacher who had shown a Charlie Hebdo cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad to students.

Protests have since sprung up in Baghdad, Dhaka and Tel Aviv, among other places. While Russian law enforcement officers were present at Thursday and Friday’s protests at the French Embassy, the demonstrators were peaceful.

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Thai protesters challenge King in German embassy demonstration – Channel 4 News

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters in Thailand have taken their campaign to the doors of the German embassy in Bangkok, calling for an investigation into the Thai king’s activities during his extensive stays in Bavaria.

They’re demanding to know whether the king has been exercising his political powers while on German soil, keeping up their pressure for sweeping constitutional change, including to the monarchy.

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Assange’s Removal From Embassy Was Coordinated on ‘Direct Orders From the US President’, Court Told

Journalist Cassandra Fairbanks has informed the court in Julian Assange’s extradition hearing that Arthur Schwartz, who is known as Donald Trump Jr’s “fixer”, had advance warning of the US indictment against the WikiLeaks publisher.

Julian Assange’s removal from the Ecuadorian Embassy was done so “on direct orders from the [US] president”, according to information provided to American journalist Cassandra Fairbanks. 

Ms Fairbanks’ explosive testimony would appear to support to position that Mr Assange’s prosecution has a political dimension and reflected a shift in the government’s attitude with a change in administration from that of former president Barack Obama.

According to Ms Fairbanks’ witness statement, which was read into the court by the defence in Mr Assange’s extradition hearing on 21 September 2020, she was contacted by Arthur Schwartz, “a wealthy GOP donor who does communications for [former Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell] and works as an informal adviser to Donald Trump Jr”. During this phone call, which Ms Fairbanks recorded, Mr Schwartz was panicking because he believed a Tweet that she published revealed “classified information”.

Ms Fairbanks attempted to calm down Mr Schwartz saying that she didn’t publish classified information and that she merely shared a link to a report from ABC news which described the role that Mr Grenell played in coordinating Mr Assange’s release.


Cassandra Fairbanks, Arthur Schwartz and Jack Posobiec 1 January 2018

Mr Schwartz was not put at ease by Ms Fairbanks’ assurances and asked her to delete the Tweet. “I don’t want to go to prison” Mr Schwartz told Ms Fairbanks, adding that people are aware of the fact that the two have been communicating with each other and have been seen with each other. Mr Grenell was acting “on the orders from the president” Mr Schwartz can be heard saying during the recorded conversation. “So, you’re going to punish me because he took orders from the president?” he asked Ms Fairbanks who responded that she wasn’t punishing him she was merely retweeting a report by ABC. Mr Schwartz begged Ms Fairbanks to delete the Tweet which she ultimately agreed to do.

Ms Fairbanks is a contributor to the Pro-Trump Gateway Pundit news outlet and she notes that she herself “endorsed [Mr Trump’s] presidency over a number of years”. Her witness statement says that she “believed Schwartz’s statement [that Mr Grenell coordinated Mr Assange’s removal from the embassy] to be correct because his close personal ties to both President Trump and Grenell are well-known”.

The statement also says that her interactions with Mr Schwartz, on the subject of Mr Assange and WikiLeaks, first began after she dropped a link to an interview with Mr Assange’s mother, Christine Assange, into “a direct message group [in October 2018] containing multiple people who either worked for President Trump or were close to him in other ways – along with several other reporters and political commentators”. Among those in the group were then US Ambassador to Germany Mr Grenell as well as Mr Schwartz.

Photo : Cassandra Fairbanks

Cassandra Fairbanks 2017

After she put the link to the interview into the group chat, Ms Fairbanks’ statement says that she received a phone call from Mr Schwartz who was “very angry”:

“[Mr Schwartz] repeatedly insisted that I stop advocating for WikiLeaks and Assange, telling me that ‘a pardon isn’t going to f**king happen.’ He knew very specific details about a future prosecution against Assange that were later made public and that only those very close to the situation then would have been aware of. He told me that it would be the ‘Manning’ case that he would be charged with and that it would not involve the Vault 7 publication or anything to do with the DNC. He also told me that they would be going after Chelsea Manning. I also recollect being told, I believe, that it would not be before Christmas. Both of these predictions came true just months later.”

“Kidnapping a political refugee” from the Ecuadorian Embassy would be “an act of war”, Ms Fairbanks said to Mr Schwartz, to which he apparently responded “not if they let us”.

It was this phone call which ultimately prompted Ms Fairbanks to record the subsequent conversations that she had with Mr Schwartz. “I began recording all conversations with Mr Schwartz because of the threatening tone of the October 2018 call and the amount of details he had provided about Mr Assange’s impending arrest”, Ms Fairbanks told Sputnik. “I could never have anticipated that he would admit President Trump personally ordered the arrest”, she added. “I didn’t know at the time, until the ABC article, that Grenell was the one who made the deal”, Ms Fairbanks explained.

The journalist also says that she has faced reprisals after reporting on these conversationsMr Grenell and Mr Schwartz went so far as calling Ms Fairbanks’ employer and pushing for her to be sacked, though these attempts have thus far been unsuccessful.

Joel Smith, acting for the prosecution, told the court that the truth of what Ms Fairbanks says was told to her “is not within her direct knowledge”. He added that “So far as the remainder of the evidence is concerned it is not challenged and not accepted” and that it will be up to the judge to decide how much weight should be attached to her statement.

Ed Fitzgerald QC, who read the statement into court, told the judge that Ms Fairbanks’ statement is “a good indication of the intention of the US government at the highest level”. Mr Fitzgerald added that in due course he would invite the court to find that the statement helps to establish a “preconcerted plan at the top level” of the Trump administration to take Mr Assange out of the embassy “to extradite him and prosecute him” and to compel Ms Chelsea Manning to give evidence against him.

The extradition hearings are expected to continue for at least one more week if not two, during which time Sputnik will continue to monitor the proceedings on location and via video link.

Mr Assange faces up to 175 years in prison if he is convicted of all of the charges levied against him in the US. The charges almost entirely relate to his role in publishing the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, Guantanamo Bay detainee files and the Diplomatic Cables, which revealed war crimes and other criminality and abuse committed by the US government and US-backed forces.

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Australia says embassy officials did not obstruct Chinese investigation into journalists Bill Birtles and Mike Smith

Australia has rejected suggestions its diplomats obstructed Chinese legal investigations by sheltering two journalists in diplomatic compounds after state security officers demanded interviews with them.

The ABC’s Bill Birtles and the Australian Financial Review’s Mike Smith were bundled out of China earlier this week, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade holding grave fears for their safety.

Officers from China’s Ministry of State Security appeared at Birtles’ apartment in Beijing and Smith’s home in Shanghai, declaring they were banned from leaving the country and demanding they submit to questioning.

Despite Australian and Chinese officials coming to an agreement that saw the two give interviews in exchange for the travel bans being revoked, China’s Foreign Ministry is now questioning the conduct of Australian diplomats.

Spokesman Zhao Lijian described the decision to allow Birtles and Smith to seek refuge in Australia’s embassy in Beijing and consulate in Shanghai as “blatant obstruction and interference in China’s normal law enforcement.”

He said it went far beyond usual consular assistance offered to people who have potentially run foul of the law.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham rejected the accusations.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says Australian diplomats acted appropriately.(ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

“Our officials acted appropriately.

“They ensured the safety of the two Australians involved, they resolved the matter diplomatically through discussions with Chinese authorities, which did provide those Chinese authorities with the opportunity to conduct those interviews but also guaranteed the safety and the ability to depart China for those two individuals.”

Birtles and Smith both say officers questioned them about Australian broadcaster Cheng Lei, who worked for state media outlet CGTN and has been detained for allegedly “endangering” China’s national security.

Senator Birmingham conceded there would be speculation as to whether China’s actions against Birtles and Smith were a tit-for-tat response to moves by Australian officials to expel Chinese academics from Australia.

But he refused to draw the connection.

“These are obviously matters we wish to see handled sensitively, appropriately, and ultimately in a way that enables the two countries to ensure that we can cooperate and work together in the areas of mutual benefit, and in a mutually respectful way.”

One of the academics whose visa was cancelled on the advice of Australia’s domestic spy agency ASIO has described the situation as “mind-bogglingly melodramatic” and “incredulously irrational” in a piece on state media outlet The Global Times.

Chen Hong described Australian authorities as intimidating anyone who spoke positively about China, with “the marked aim to hush them into submissive silence.”

As with the other accusations levelled at the Federal Government, Senator Birmingham denied such suggestions.

“Our Government takes matters of potential foreign interference seriously, and we will continue to act in ways to deter any acts of foreign interference, but we do so transparently and … in conjunction with Australian law,” he said.

“The individual decisions really are matters for the relevant agencies, in terms of the way in which they conduct their operations.”

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Serbian President Vucic non-committal on Trump’s Jerusalem embassy comment

Serbian president Aleksander Vucic appeared somewhat taken aback when the US President declared that Serbia had agreed to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem.

Vucic was at the White House last week to agree to a US-brokered deal normalising economic ties between Serbia and Kosovo.

The talks included Serbia moving its Israeli embassy, and Israel and Kosovo agreeing to mutual recognition.

However when Donald Trump commented on the agreement to move Serbia’s embassy, Vucic appeared confused.

The Trump administration recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017, moving its own embassy there in 2018, and Trump has encouraged other countries to follow suit.

It’s controversial because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved, and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their own capital city.

Vucic was in Brussels today alongside his Kosovo’s prime minister Avdullah Hoti as part of the ongoing negotiations between the two sides, and talks on how both countries’ bids to become EU members are progressing.

The EU however opposes countries moving their Israeli embassies to Jerusalem.

EU spokesman Peter Stano said the EU expects aspiring countries to follow its line of foreign policy.

He added that the countries’ path to the EU is not undermined, but if they take decisions that would put into question the general position of the EU regarding Jerusalem, it would raise concerns and regrets.

After leaving those talks, Euronews asked Vucic to clarify the situation on the embassy.

He said: “Serbia has not opened that chapter yet. But we are doing our best to align with EU declarations, with EU resolutions as much as it is possible. But we follow our own interests, of course.”

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Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra still ‘the ground zero for First Nations people’ nearly 50 years on

When Paul House was a toddler, he was taken to a protest at the newly-established Aboriginal Tent Embassy, on the lawns across the road from what is now known as Old Parliament House.

Mr House’s memories of the embassy back then are sketchy — it was, after all, nearly 50 years ago. But there are pictures of him, accompanied by his mother Matilda, playing with a toy car during a protest, while cameramen film and police march down the streets.

Warning: This story may contain images of an Indigenous person who has died.

The Ngambri-Ngunnawal man’s upbringing was filled with experiences like these — so when 5,000 Canberrans marched by the tent embassy a few weeks ago during the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests, it was a somewhat familiar scene.

A black and white photo of protestors outside Old Parliament House.
Paul House, the small boy on the right, was just a toddler at the inception of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.(ABC News)

The Black Lives Matter rallies have revived attention within Australia on Indigenous incarceration rates — Indigenous Australians make up 3 per cent of the population, but about 30 per cent of the prison population. Within the youth detention system, about 50 per cent of all detainees are Indigenous. More than 430 Indigenous people have died in prison since the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

But the protests have also reignited conversations about racism and implicit bias, and prompted many to question Indigenous representation within the parliamentary and judicial systems.

So what role does a long-standing protest like the Aboriginal Tent Embassy play in those conversations, and in the pursuit of change?

A crowd marches in front of Parliament House with Aboriginal flags and t-shirts, and placards.
George Floyd’s death in America sparked Black Lives Matter rallies across the world, including in Canberra.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Tent embassy is ‘the ground zero’ for First Nations people

For Mr House, the tent embassy is a place “which brings together the diversity of First Nations people … to stand up for justice”.

“It’s the ground zero for First Nations people in terms of our struggle for human rights, for First Nation rights in this country, for a whole range of rights that we need to speak up for,” he said.

“It’s a powerful place because it unites the people. [It] brings people together, to educate the highest powers in this country, here in the Parliamentary Triangle.”

A mother and a son stand outside Old Parliament House.
Paul House and his mother, Matilda, were at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy at its inception, and are still involved in protests today.(ABC News: Dan Bourchier)

Matilda House, who is a well-known Ngambri-Ngunnawal elder in Canberra and spoke at the Black Lives Matter rally earlier this month, said the embassy was “more relevant than ever” because “I’m still standing on the land of my ancestors, still fighting for my great grandchildren”.

“Whole communities have come here and mourned for their people, here at this embassy,” she said.

“Things have got to be more respectful towards the people who have lived on this land here and died.”

From land rights to Aboriginal deaths in custody

A permanent structure painted in the colours of the Aboriginal flag.
A fixed structure at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 2020.(ABC News: Luke Stephenson)

While Black Lives Matter protests were attended by thousands across Australia over several days, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy serves as a permanent protest — and a constant reminder — of the issues First Nations people are fighting.

The embassy has, at times, courted controversy from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. But despite being moved on and threatened with closure a number of times, the tent embassy still stands, nearly 50 years later, and is the only Aboriginal site to have been added to the Australian Register of the National Estate.

The four Indigenous men who originally established the embassy on January 26, 1972 — Michael Anderson, Billy Craigie, Bertie Williams and Tony Coorey — did so with a focus on land rights, after the McMahon government refused to grant independent ownership of traditional land to Indigenous people.

Over time, that focus has evolved to include issues such as funding for Aboriginal communities, the political representation of Indigenous Australians, recognition of the Stolen Generation, and Indigenous lives lost in custody.

A woman wearing a scarf and glasses looks out over her country.
Frances Peters-Little, overlooking her Yuwaalaraay country.(Supplied)

For Frances Peters-Little, Aboriginal activist and Yuwaalaraay Gamilaraay woman, the evolution of issues the tent embassy has stood for over all these years is proof of its continued relevance and importance.

“Then the Hawke government came along and squashed national land rights, it never got a chance to get off the ground. So sovereignty became the most important focus that would bring us together nationally.

“Of course it has changed its direction, of course it has had different people with different views.

“It’s our monument. It’s a place we can go to.”

Tent embassy ‘the only physical symbol and existence of sovereignty’

Stolen Generations members gather in Canberra
The tent embassy has served as a protest place for many issues, and was one of the meeting spots ahead of the 2008 apology to the Stolen Generations.(AAP)

Ms Peters-Little was a teenager when she first visited the tent embassy in 1974, “with some relatives and a guitar”.

She then went on to make a documentary about the embassy on the 20th anniversary, when it was permanently re-established on the lawns across from Old Parliament House.

“It holds a lot of extraordinary concepts and ideals, all coming out of four guys flying by the seat of their pants, who said, ‘We’re protesting here on Commonwealth land, and we’re claiming sovereignty’,” she said.

“It’s a place anchored into the psyche of the Australian people, as a place that recognises Aboriginal people’s sovereignty.”

Indeed, large letters spelling out the word ‘sovereignty’ are signposted in the grass beside the tent embassy, immediately visible to passers-by. Ms Peters-Little sees this recognition of sovereignty — and the right for Indigenous people to self-govern — as integral to what the tent embassy stands for.

“Sovereignty is a recognition of us as equals … to have control over our own lives,” she said.

“We are a sovereign nation — we didn’t make any deals with any nations [or with] Cook.

“But what we do need is the chance to run our own affairs, so our sovereignty can make us equal with the Australian people. We want it to be recognised, so we can have a say.”

A man holds a certificate outside on a lawn.
Paul House holds the Tent Embassy’s 1995 National Estate registration.(ABC News: Luke Stephenson)

Ms Peters-Little said the rates of Indigenous deaths in custody — the reason why so many people marched across Australia earlier in June — was proof that the systems in place now, were not working for her people.

“The way they have been running our affairs has been digging us into the earth and killing our people,” she said.

“If we have any question about whether what we’re doing now works for all Australian people equally, we only have to look at Aboriginal people being institutionalised.

“We will always see this disparity between Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people until we are in control of our own affairs.

“We want our sovereignty to be recognised.”

Protests spark important conversations

Ms Peters-Little is “convinced” the Australian public are “more advanced than the politicians” in their thinking on sovereignty, and sees the recent Black Lives Matter protests in Australia as proof of that.

“I’ve been protesting most of my life now,” she said.

“I was in Walgett when the civil rights movement came through in 1965, my aunt was arrested in the cinema.

“The conversation we’ve been trying to have since the days we were protesting black deaths in custody in the mid-1980s led to a royal commission, but of course we know that the recommendations don’t always get acted upon.

“But, those protests started the conversation. It does not always lead to policy or legal change, but it opens the door for the conversation.”

And, a permanent protest like the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, means that the door for those conversations is always open.

“There are lots of good people in this country who know the truth, who are willing to hear the truth, and we need to walk together now,” Mr House said.

“We invite all Australians to join us in the struggle, in this fight for justice for First Nation people in this country.

“I’m optimistic about change.”

Flags fly in front of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy
Flags fly in front of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy outside Parliament House, Canberra, in 1972.(National Archives)

Ms House said the sheer volume of people who marched across the country in support of Black Lives Matter indicates that change, although slow, was coming.

“It’s through generational changes that changes will be made here,” she said.

“I think and I know there are changes there. People aren’t going to take this no more.”

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