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Australian state passes Aboriginal heritage protection law




Western Australia state said the new law is the only Aboriginal heritage legislation in the country to require that Aboriginal people give “informed consent” for agreements but Indigenous groups say it did not go far enough.

Western Australia’s parliament has passed legislation aiming to better protect Aboriginal heritage in the mining state.

Western Australia state Premier Mark McGowan said on Wednesday the new legislation, which overhauled a 1972 law, took a respectful approach to managing Aboriginal cultural heritage in a state rich in mineral and energy resources on their land.

“Finding a balance between the protection of that rich cultural heritage and delivering on the economic potential of natural resources to ensure our state’s continuing prosperity is crucial,” McGowan said in a statement.

The state said the new law is the only Aboriginal heritage legislation in Australia to require that Aboriginal people give “informed consent” for agreements.

Aboriginal groups: Not enough

Indigenous groups said it did not go far enough and are now counting on changes at the national level.

One of the main concerns raised by Aboriginal groups is that the legislation keeps the final say over development decisions with a government minister in cases where a developer and traditional owners cannot agree terms.

“This will be business as usual on our sacred sites, which leads to the continued destruction and desecration of Aboriginal cultural heritage,” National Native Title Council Chairman Kado Muir said in a statement.

The state’s Chamber of Minerals and Energy has backed the legislation but said the next step of setting out regulations within the new framework would be tough.

“Change of this scale is complex, and the challenge ahead to deliver on the potential set out in the bill should not be underestimated,” the chamber’s chief executive Paul Everingham said in a statement in November.

READ MORE: Australia alters anthem to reflect Indigenous history

Destruction of a 46,000-year-old site

In May 2020, global miner Rio Tinto exploded two rock shelters at Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara as part of its operations to feed an insatiable global appetite for iron ore.

Indigenous heritage protection has become a major issue after Rio Tinto’s legal destruction of the culturally significant rock shelters dating back more than 46,000 years, sparking public and investor outrage.

An Australian inquiry into Rio Tinto’s destruction of Juukan Gorge recommended a new national legal framework and for Aboriginal people to be the top decision makers on heritage issues.

Aboriginal groups are now counting on federal legislation to go further than the Western Australia law.

READ MORE: Top bosses at Rio Tinto quit after destruction of indigenous site

Source: Reuters / TRT

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About Chinese Lantern Festival





The Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar, which is February 15 this year. The traditional festival signals the end of Spring Festival celebrations, and brings the festive atmosphere to a final climax.

In addition to lantern shows, solving lantern riddles, eating sweet dumplings and other folk activities, this time-honored festival was regarded as Valentine’s Day in ancient China.

Hundreds of lanterns are displayed as part of the Lantern Festival celebration in Shangrao City, east China’s Jiangxi Province, February, 14, 2022. /CFP

People in ancient China were restricted by a night curfew. The Lantern Festival presented one of the few chances for young women to leave their homes at night, which allowed them to meet eligible young men. Unmarried men and women could stroll the well-decorated streets and enjoy the romantic atmosphere at this time of year.

“The Lantern Festival is really a romantic festival,” said Zhong Fulan, director of the Shanghai Folk Culture Society. “Since the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, the Lantern Festival has been very lively, the lights at night are spectacular.”

Hundreds of lanterns are displayed as part of the Lantern Festival celebration in Shangrao City, Jiangxi Province, China, February, 14, 2022. /CFP

Many romantic poems with Lantern Festival themes depict ardent love and profound thoughts. Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) poet Xin Qiji’s poem “The Lantern Festival Night – To the Tune of Green Jade Table” is one of them.

But in the crowd once and again, 
I look for her in vain. 
When all at once I turn my head, 
I find her there where lantern light is dimly shed.

The classic line, which describes how the protagonist looked for a woman standing in the crowd, is still widely quoted and circulated today.

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British actress Emma Watson voices solidarity with Palestine





Watson’s post garners acclaim from pro-Palestine social media users and derision from Israeli envoys.

British actress Emma Watson has voiced solidarity with pro-Palestinian activism on social media, eliciting backlash from current and former Israeli officials and praise from pro-Palestine social media users.

The actress, who is known for her portrayal of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies, reposted a May post from the Bad Activist Collective on Instagram on Sunday that depicts pro-Palestine activists marching with the words “Solidarity is a verb” prominently displayed on the image.

Watson accompanied the post with a quote from British-Australian scholar Sara Ahmed, which said “Solidarity does not assume that our struggles are the same struggles, or that our pain is the same pain, or that our hope is for the same future.”

“Solidarity involves commitment, and work, as well as the recognition that even if we do not have the same feelings, or the same lives, or the same bodies, we do live on common ground,” the quote added.

Watson accused of being ‘anti-Semite’

Watson’s post garnered widespread acclaim from pro-Palestine Instagram users, several of whom thanked her for her support in the comments section, and posted the emoji of the Palestinian flag, many with the hashtags #FreePalestine and #PalestineWillBeFree.

In addition to her big screen roles, Watson is a UN Women’s goodwill ambassador.

Israel’s UN envoy, Gilad Erdan, strongly criticised her post, lashing out at the star on Twitter by saying, “Fiction may work in Harry Potter but it does not work in reality.” He was joined by his predecessor, Danny Danon, who accused Watson of “being an anti-Semite.”

Leah Greenberg, the co-executive director of the Indivisible Guide progressive advocacy group, dismissed Danon’s accusations, saying they are “a perfect demonstration of the utterly cynical and bad-faith weaponisation of anti-Semitism to shut down basic expressions of solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

READ MORE: How can we distinguish between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism?

Source: AA / TRT

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Egypt opens iconic Avenue of Sphinx.





Egypt has reopened its iconic Avenue of the Sphinx in its Luxor Province after years of renovation. According to Egyptian authorities, they aim to promote their historic civilization and tourism with the opening of the avenue.

Uncovered over 70 years ago, the 2,400 years old Avenue of the Sphinx is a 2.7km long walkway with 1,057 ram-headed and man-headed sphinxes lining the sides of the road. According to the Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities haled al-Anany, the walkway connected the Temples in Karnak and Luxor 2,400 years ago.

The inauguration of the avenue was attended by Egyptian President Abdel-Fateh al-Sisi along with a number of his ministers and foreign dignitaries. The ceremony was also attended by renowned Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass who said that the walkway was known as the “The way to God” to the ancient Egyptians. “The road used to witness the celebration of the Opet Festival in the presence of kings, statesmen and priests … songs and celebrations continued for 11 days during the rule of the 18th dynasty in ancient Egypt, to reach 27 days in later families,” stated Dr. Zahi Hawass.

The Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri stated that they aim to promote tourism in Luxor as the “Largest open museum in the world”. “The ceremony is a message for the world that Egypt and all its cities are safe and rich of heritage” stated Mostafa Waziri.

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