Mine company’s blasting of rock shelters likened to Taliban

Nov 24, 2022, 12:56 AM | Updated: 1:17 am
Australia's Minister for Environment Tanya Plibersek tables the government's response to the Joint ...

Australia's Minister for Environment Tanya Plibersek tables the government's response to the Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia's report into the destruction of Juukan Gorge, in Parliament House in Canberra, Nov. 24, 2022. Plibersek likened a mining company blasting ancient rock shelters to the Taliban's destruction of giant Bhudda carvings and vowed to improve protections of Indigenous cultural heritage. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP)

(Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP)

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An Australian minister likened a mining company blasting ancient rock shelters to the Taliban’s destruction of giant Buddha carvings and vowed Thursday to improve protections of Indigenous cultural heritage.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said Rio Tinto acted lawfully in 2020 when it destroyed two rock shelters in Juukan Gorge in Western Australia state that had been inhabited for 46,000 years.

She said Australia’s laws would be updated to prevent such destruction of Indigenous sacred sites happening again.

“It is unthinkable that any culture would knowingly destroy Stonehenge or the Egyptian pyramids or the Lascaux caves in France,” Plibersek told Parliament.

“When the Bamyan Buddhas were destroyed in Afghanistan, the world was rightly outraged. But that’s precisely what occurred in Juukan Gorge,” she added.

Two 1,500-year-old giant Buddhas carved into a cliffside in the Bamyan Valley in Afghanistan were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001 because the statues were considered to be idols.

Rio Tinto demolished the caves, which contained artifacts tens of thousands of years old, to gain the cheapest possible access to iron ore reserves. The Anglo-Australian company’s chairman, CEO and two other executives lost their jobs following outrage over the destruction.

Plibersek committed her government to draft new laws with the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance, a group of 30 Indigenous organizations, to better protect their cultural heritage.

Her center-left Labor Party government, which replaced the previous conservative administration at elections in May, also responded to an interim and final report of a parliamentary inquiry into the Juukan Gorge destruction.

The government accepted all but one of the reports’ recommendations. The report wants the Indigenous affairs minister to have ultimate responsibility for protecting cultural heritage. The government would prefer Plibersek took responsibility and the issue would be resolved in discussions with the Indigenous alliance.

Jamie Lowe, chief executive of the National Native Title Council, which represents Australia’s traditional owners of the land, welcomed the government’s promised changes, which he said were long overdue.

“The disaster and the destruction and the act of violence to Juukan Gorge and the PKKP people some two years ago was something that happens to our people on a regular basis and the need for comprehensive national reform is something that has been a priority for our people for decades now,” Lowe told Australian Broadcasting Corp., referring to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people, the gorge’s traditional owners.

The PKKR Aboriginal Corp. said the traditional owners of the demolished caves had not been respected or adequately consulted by the government. “We would have expected the minister would want to meet with us before making a public announcement about our country and cultural heritage,” Corp. chairman Burchell Hayes said in a statement.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

$10M settlement announced in heat death of Georgia student

ATLANTA (AP) — The parents of a Georgia high school basketball player who collapsed while practicing outdoors in sweltering heat and later died announced Tuesday that they have agreed to a $10 million settlement with the school district. As part of the settlement, the Clayton County school system agreed to rename the gymnasium at Elite […]
10 hours ago
FILE - Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia speaks outside the federal courthouse in Boston after his ap...
Associated Press

Ex-mayor, elected at age 23, loses corruption case appeal

BOSTON (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld the extortion and fraud convictions of a once-celebrated young Massachusetts mayor who was found guilty of extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana businesses. In a ruling published on Monday, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a series of challenges to former Fall […]
10 hours ago
FILE -- An employee in protective clothing takes a sample from the furnace at the steel producer, S...
Associated Press

German inflation dips slightly in November to 10%

BERLIN (AP) — German inflation slipped back slightly to 10% in November, official figures showed Tuesday, but galloping prices remain a major headache for Europe’s biggest economy. The annual inflation rate was off its peak of 10.4%, reached in October, as the increase in energy prices over a year ago slowed to 38.4% from 43% […]
10 hours ago
A monkey looks out from its cage at a Ministry of Environment rehabilitation center in Panama City,...
Associated Press

Panama confronts illegal trafficking of animals

ANCON, Panama (AP) — In a tropical forest beside the Panama Canal, two black-handed spider monkeys swing about their wire enclosure, balanced by their long tails. They arrived at this government rehabilitation center after environmental authorities seized them from people who had been keeping them as pets. In the coming months, biologists and veterinarians will […]
10 hours ago
FILE - Signs advertise deals and low prices at a Walmart in Secaucus, N.J., Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022....
Associated Press

US consumer confidence falls in November for 2nd month

U.S. consumer confidence fell for the second straight month in November amid ongoing high inflation, rising interest rates, and layoffs in the tech sector. The Conference Board reported Tuesday that its consumer confidence index fell to 100.2 this month, down from 102.2 in October. The business research group’s present situation index — which measures consumers’ […]
10 hours ago
Associated Press

Oxford school shooting trial delayed by appeal by parents

DETROIT (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court on Tuesday postponed the January trial for the parents of the teenager who killed four students at his high school, a victory for defense lawyers who argue that involuntary manslaughter charges don’t fit. The court ordered the state appeals court to hear an appeal from James and Jennifer […]
10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Mine company’s blasting of rock shelters likened to Taliban