Murrawah Maroochy Johnson’s landmark victory against waratah coal mine

His victory against the Waratah Mine is a powerful reminder of how even the most difficult battles can be won with determination and unity

Murrawah Maroochy Johnson, a Wirdi woman of the Birri Gubba Nation, achieved a historic victory against the Waratah coal mine in Queensland, Australia. With unwavering determination and a profound connection to her cultural heritage, Johnson spearheaded a legal battle in 2021 that resulted in the denial of the mine’s permit in 2022.

This case marked a significant legal milestone, setting the precedent for courts to hear testimonies from Indigenous populations directly in their places of residence. Johnson successfully leveraged Queensland’s new human rights law, arguing that the greenhouse gas emissions from the mine would harm the cultural traditions and health of Indigenous peoples.

Raised in a family of activists, with her father, grandfather, and great-grandparents all active in the fight for Indigenous rights, Johnson feels a strong sense of responsibility to continue this legacy. Her battle against the Waratah mine is just one of many she has fought to protect her land and culture, earning her the 2024 Goldman Environmental Prize, which honors those committed to protecting the environment against economic and political interests.

Climate change is also a colonial crisis

For Johnson, climate change is not just an environmental crisis but a colonial one. She views climate change as the result of the violent extraction and exploitation of resources from Indigenous lands by colonial powers. However, she also sees an opportunity in this crisis to re-center traditional systems of land care and sustainability as solutions to the climate crisis.

Johnson emphasized the importance of drawing on traditional knowledge to guide future decisions. She believes that true climate justice requires a return to traditional principles of land management, which are in harmony with the environment. For her, this means Indigenous leadership is essential in addressing climate change and creating a sustainable future.

Despite the challenges and setbacks, such as the Carmichael mine continuing to operate despite her opposition, Johnson remains steadfast in her fight for her people and their land. Her advice to other Indigenous activists is to keep going, take breaks when necessary, and keep the resistance and cultural identity alive.

Source: Grist

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