Race protests turn spotlight on rights of indigenous Australians

David Dungay
David Dungay

source: Guam Daily Post
published: 12 June 2020

“I can’t breathe, please don’t! Let me up, please! Help please! I can’t breathe!” The last words not of George Floyd, but of Aboriginal man David Dungay Jr. as he laying dying on the floor of his jail cell in Australia, a case strikingly similar to the one that has sparked mass protests against racial injustice.

The death of 26-year-old Dungay in 2015 garnered relatively little attention in Australia, where indigenous people account for a disproportionate number of prisoners and rank near the bottom on economic and social indicators.

But the reaction to Floyd’s death in Minneapolis has inspired protests in every major city in the country, prompting some indigenous Australians to question why it took an American incident to turn the spotlight on their plight.

“Suddenly people are saying, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and we’re like, ‘So when did this happen?'” University of Queensland senior academic Chelsea Bond told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Indigenous Australians are the most incarcerated people in the world. Despite making up about 2% of Australia’s population, they account for 28% of the adult prison population.

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