Al Jazeera Documentary: Former Australian Political Correspondent Found An Independent Indigenous Nation
Witness: Creating A Nation is the story of Murrumu Walubara, the foreign minister of Yidindji, an independent indigenous nation in northern Australia. The documentary screens on Al Jazeera English on Sunday, 24January 2016 at 2230GMT / 2330 WAT.
Murrumu, formerly known as Jeremy Geia, left a six-figure job as a political journalist in Australia, took a tribal name, renounced Australian citizenship, and abandoned two decades worth of savings to help build the sovereign state of Yidindji, which has its own laws and institutions.
“When I was working at Parliament house, I soon realised that I may have made a mistake because Aboriginal people are excluded from the commonwealth constitution,” says Murrumu. “When I found that out, I said I’m going back to my tribal law and that's when we formed the sovereign Yidindji government.”
While Yidindji had just 60 citizens when the documentary was made, it claims a territory roughly double the size of Hong Kong, which includes the Great Barrier Reef and Cairns, the tourist capital of North Queensland. Murrumu says the bloodline hereditary population on Yidindji territories is between 3000 to 5000 people.
“The United Nations Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples clearly states that indigenous peoples can create their own governments, their own identification, like this, like our car plates, like our Yidindji vehicle,” says Murrumu.
Despite this, his quest has had its hurdles. Murrumu had his car impounded and appeared in an Australian court for driving an unregistered vehicle without a license.
Murrumu denies he’s creating a nation. “No, the nation already existed. This is just a continuation of something that has been here since the very beginning. The thing that was missing was the legal personality, the government.”
Witness: Creating A Nation follows Murrumu as he promotes the newly announced state, from citizen swearing-in ceremonies to hosting an impassioned weekly radio broadcast, from meeting with the Russian embassy to traveling to Canberra to lobby Australian ministers for a treaty or formal agreement for Yidindji to “grant consent… for the Commonwealth of Australia to exist on our territory.”
For more information, visit http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/.
MURRUMU WALUBARA WITH HIS SON THOYO. PHOTO BY TANJA BRUCKNER (1)