Amnesty International Australia last week launched its newest Action Centre in Perth. The official launch event featured a Noongar smoking ceremony performed by Noongar elders Uncle Ben Taylor, Uncle Alf Taylor, Auntie Mingli McGlade and Michael (Mick) Fuller.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. – Arthur Ashe
The spaces we occupy often help to define the shape, colour and movement of our lives.
Speaking of one of the prison complexes on Manus Island (Mike prison), Kurdish journalist and human rights defender Behrouz Boochani described the whitewashed rooms and their effect on the men living in the complex; “Over these three years it is the white colour that has become the main factor of torture.”
The work we do to defend human rights is vital, and, as Arthur Ashe said, we must start where we are. For many, that starting place is not one of peace or safety. There are people like Behrouz Boochani around the world, who have had to find ways to transcend the dangerous, paralyzing confines of the spaces around them, to build pathways of hope and understanding across physical boundaries. Many across the world must find and forge their own space.
At Amnesty International Australia last week we had the privilege of launching our newest site of human rights activism.
The new Amnesty International Perth Action Centre is located on Noongar country at the edge of Kaarta Koomba (Kings Park). As I write this the sun is setting in WA. From the window in front of me I can see the golden sunlight glowing off the windows of the building opposite. I have spent the day surrounded by colour and light, meeting with the passionate volunteers who occupy these walls.
The setting up of this office was not without difficulties, but our privilege in being able to share this beautiful space with so many powerful human rights activists is considerable.
If we need a place to start – this is a good one.
We are proud of this new office, but more than anything we would like to honour those who have had to find and forge their own spaces when doing the often times dangerous work of defending human rights. And so we hope that our new action centre will become a site to share their words, power and bravery, and let local activism flourish.
“Our Action centre is the hub for the activism in this region. On any given day you can walk in and find activists developing campaigning plans, painting banners, hosting training for their fellow activists and planning events and meetings with MPs. It is inspiring every single day to be in their presence and I am thankful for their commitment and determination. If you want to see what I mean come and get amongst it.” – Sarah Gooderham, AIA WA Community Organiser
“The opening of our new action centre marks the beginning of a new chapter for human rights activism in WA, and we welcome our partners and allies to work with us to uphold justice and to protect and defend human rights for all.” Leonie Alexander, AIA WA Branch President
“There’s so much Indigenous Rights work from Amnesty coming out of this office and we should be incredibly proud of that.” Tammy Solonec, AIA Indigenous Rights Manager