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Quakers write to federal and WA politicians concerning the destruction of the significant rock shelters located in Juukan Gorge, Hammersley Ranges

Australian Quakers have written to Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne, Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt, Western Premier Mark McGowan, and others concerning the destruction of the significant rock shelters located in Juukan Gorge, Hammersley Ranges. An excerpt from the letter to Minister Payne reads:

Dear Minister Payne,

I am writing to you in your capacity as Foreign Minister, which includes UNESCO, and as the minister overseeing Australia’s Compliance to the UN Convention on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I have also written to Minister Wyatt since it was the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people, the traditional owners who made contact once they found out that Rio Tinto proposed to detonate the Juukan Gorge rock caves; a site not only significant to the Traditional owners but also to the global community.

Like many Australians, Quakers were shocked and saddened to hear of the destruction of those 46,000-year-old sacred and archeologically significant rock shelters located in the Hamersley Ranges by Rio Tinto.

Although artifacts had been removed from the site and there was consultation with Traditional owners in 2014, Rio Tinto in expanding a mine, has destroyed a place of significant cultural heritage to Australia and the world. A consequence is unknown loss of cultural and other significant artifacts and scientific evidence of ancient human civilization. Further Traditional Owners stated they were only informed of the scheduled destruction when making a request to enter the area for NAIDOC week celebrations, nine days before the detonation took place. They describe the loss was “soul destroying”. We share in their grief.

To read the complete letters go here.  


The image is of the cave in Juukan Gorge that was blasted. It is the only inland site in Australia to show signs of continual human occupation through the last Ice Age. Image credit: The Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation.

Last modified: 
Thursday, 20 August 2020 - 11:13am