Publish Date: 19th May 2013
Sunday May 19th marks fifteen years since Yvonne Margarula - Senior Traditional Owner
of the Mirarr clan – was arrested for 'trespassing' on her traditional land at Jabiluka.
In the early hours of May 19th 1998 Yvonne Margarula was arrested along three other
Aboriginal people - Jacqui Katona, Christine Christophersen and Reuben Nango - on the
Jabiluka mineral lease. The highly controversial proposed Jabiluka uranium mine was
under construction at the time of the arrests but development of the mine was eventually
halted as a result of the campaign lead by Ms Margarula.
Ms Margarula argued that her protest against the Jabiluka uranium mine was “traditional
action taking a modern form” and that her long standing opposition to the mine was
fulfilling her duties as a Traditional Owner. However, in an extraordinary court ruling Ms
Margarula was found guilty of trespassing on her own land and after appeal was fined
Yvonne's arrest took place on a shipping container which was the property of the mining
company and she was aware of the fact that she may be arrested. This combination of
factors was enough to see tens of thousands of years of living culture and connection with
land overruled by the imposition of an unwanted mining project. Amidst significant publicity
surrounding this ludicrous legal situation, Yvonne's fine was anonymously paid and legal
history was made.
Fifteen years ago Yvonne Margarula stood on her country and said no to unwanted mining
just as her father said no to unwanted mining on Mirarr country at Ranger fifteen years
before that. The efforts of the Mirarr to protect their country and culture continue. Please
support the Mirarr in their continued fight to ensure responsibility at Ranger and to
permanently protect Jabiluka.