Fire destroys Musgrave Park Sovereign Tent Embassy

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Emma Sykes ABC News 2 October, 2012

Queensland Police are investigating a fire that has damaged parts of the Sovereign Aboriginal embassy in Musgrave Park.

Queensland Fire and Rescue were called to the blaze this morning.

Police spokesperson Senior Sergeant Tony Collins says no one was present at the embassy when the fire broke out just before 7am.

"Upon police arrival we were unable to locate anybody who is normally present with the tent embassy."

Senior Sergeant Collins says police are unsure about whether to treat the fire as suspicious until more is known.

"Until we can establish a cause, and talk to all the relevant witnesses, we're not sure," he says.

Police are appealing for witnesses who were in Musgrave Park between 7 and 7:30am.

Indigenous activist and spokesperson Sam Watson says the fire has come as a shock to the Indigenous community who've establish an ongoing presence in the park since March.

"Everybody is pretty shaken up by this. This embassy site is a very important place for us."

"This weekend we were leading up to the anniversary of the Commonwealth Games protests. So it's a place of great significance to our people."

Mr Watson says on any given day the embassy would be a busy place, and it is unclear why no one was present when the authorities responded to the fire.

The embassy gained national coverage earlier this year when police dismantled the original embassy site, arresting a number of people who were protesting about sovereign rights of Indigenous people in Australia.

Activists from the group representing the embassy vowed to maintain a presence in Musgrave Park, and moved the smaller embassy presence to the far right of the park.

Police say the cause of the fire is unknown and the investigation is ongoing.

Tent embassy fire treated as suspicious

Miranda Forster Brisbane Times October 2, 2012

Fire destroys tents at the Musgrave Park Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Photo: Seven News
UPDATED

A small Aboriginal tent embassy destroyed by fire in Brisbane's Musgrave Park was deserted when authorities arrived, police say.

This morning, officers cordoned off a corner of Musgrave Park, in Brisbane's inner south, where up to five tents were almost completely burnt out.

A firefighter hoses down flames at the Musgrave Park Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Photo: Seven News
Forensic investigators spent the morning sifting through the charred remains of the 20 metres by 20 metres site.

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Senior Sergeant Tony Collins said when firefighters and police arrived at the scene about 7.15am, it was deserted.

"We couldn't locate anyone from the tent embassy to talk with upon arrival," he said.

He said police were not sure what caused the blaze, which was being treated as suspicious.

No one was injured.

A local Aboriginal leader who inspected the damage said he was trying to contact the residents.

"Everyone's pretty shaken up by this. This embassy site is a very important place to us," Sam Watson told reporters at the scene.

He said Musgrave Park has traditionally been a sacred gathering place for his people.

The Brisbane site was one of a network of tent embassies throughout Australia.

In May, hundreds of Queensland police clashed with tent embassy residents when they removed the original site in the centre of the park to make way for a popular Greek festival.

It was relocated to the current location in a corner of the park.

Mr Watson said in any week up to 200 people would visit, and this weekend was to be particularly significant as it was the anniversary of the 1982 Commonwealth Games protests.

Thousands marched for land rights when Brisbane hosted the games to draw international attention to the issue.

"Right now, leading up to the Commonwealth Games anniversary, it's very hurtful to see our embassy like this," Mr Watson said.

Qld tent embassy deserted after fire

By Miranda Forster From: AAP HeraldSun October 02, 2012

A small Aboriginal tent embassy destroyed by fire in Brisbane was deserted when authorities arrived, police say.

Officers on Tuesday morning cordoned off a corner of Musgrave Park, in Brisbane's inner south where up to five tents were almost completely burnt out.

Forensic investigators spent the morning sifting through the charred remains of the 20 metres by 20 metres site.

Senior Sergeant Tony Collins said when firefighters and police arrived at the scene, about 7.15am (AEST), it was deserted.

"We couldn't locate anyone from the tent embassy to talk with upon arrival," he told AAP.

He said police were not sure what caused the blaze, which is being treated as suspicious.

No one was injured.

A local Aboriginal leader who inspected the damage said he was trying to contact the residents.

"Everyone's pretty shaken up by this. This embassy site is a very important place to us," Sam Watson told reporters at the scene.

He said Musgrave Park has traditionally been a sacred gathering place for his people.

The Brisbane site was one of a network of tent embassies throughout Australia.

In May, hundreds of Queensland police clashed with tent embassy residents when they removed the original site in the centre of the park to make way for a popular Greek festival.

It was relocated to the current location in a corner of the park.

Mr Watson said in any week up to 200 people would visit, and this weekend was to be particularly significant as it was the anniversary of the 1982 Commonwealth Games protests.

Thousands marched for land rights when Brisbane hosted the games to draw international attention to the issue.

"Right now, leading up to the Commonwealth Games anniversary, it's very hurtful to see our embassy like this," Mr Watson said.

Brisbane tent embassy ablaze

Sky News October 2, 2012

Police are treating a fire at Brisbane's Aboriginal tent embassy as suspicious.

The Department of Community Safety were called to the blaze at Musgrave Park in Brisbane's innersouth about 7.15am (AEST) Tuesday.

Several tents are believed to have been burnt down and the fire has been extinguished. No-one was injured.

Queensland Police told AAP they are treating the blaze as suspicious and are interviewing people to understand who could be behind it.

In May, hundreds of police controversially moved on the tent embassy to make way for a popular Greek festival which has been held in the park for years.

The embassy had been there since March, and eventually relocated to a new area of the park.