Murrumu charged after driving with licence issued by his Nation

Murrumu Walubara Yidindji, the former Canberra press gallery journalist previously known as Jeremy Geia, who has renounced Australia to live under tribal law in far North Queensland has been booked for using his own Nations registration plates on his car.

Murrumu Walubara Yidindji, who has renounced Australia to live under tribal law in the Cairns region - here he is seen showing his Tribal Nation number plate last year in Canberra where he was representing his nation as the foreign affairs and trade minister.

(Photograph: Geoff Bagnall, National Indigenous Times)

Joshua Robertson The Guardian 27 May 2015

Former National Television journalist, Murrumu Walubara Yidindji, who has ‘renounced Australia’ says he has referred the matter to his attorney general

Murrumu Walubara Yidindji, the former Canberra press gallery journalist who renounced Australia to live under tribal law, has been charged after driving with a licence and a car registration issued by his own north Queensland Indigenous nation.

Murrumu, who was formerly known as Jeremy Geia, has renounced his Australian citizenship, declared his intent to live only under Yidindji tribal law and is behind the establishment of an infant sovereign Yidindji government near Cairns. He is now the nation’s “foreign affairs and trade minister” and says he has referred the matter to his “attorney general for further investigation”.

A police spokesman said a 41-year-old man from the Canberra suburb of Yarralumla had been charged with driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle with false plates, driving without a licence while possessing “an article resembling a licence”, and contravening a direction.

Murrumu, who was arrested for the second time in four months by police at a roadside stop in Gordonvale on Tuesday, took to Twitter to say he was “being forcibly detained against my will in #Gimuy (Cairns)”.

The Yidindji attorney general, Gaan-Yarra Yalmabara, told Guardian Australia that Murrumu had driven with Yidindji plates, registration and a licence that police do not recognise.

His arrest was unlawful and breached two UN covenants on Indigenous rights ratified by the Australian government, Gaan-Yarra said.

However, the argument of a UN breach was unlikely to be aired before a Cairns magistrate as the Yidindji did not currently recognise the authority of the court, he said.

It was “not so much a defence to the charges [but] a negotiating point or olive branch” held out to the commonwealth to instigate discussion towards a treaty and formal consent for its occupation of the land, he said.

A Canberra magistrate in January strongly questioned the three-day detention of Murrumu over a trespassing charge linked to the Yidindji embassy in the national capital.

Gaan-Yarra said the arrest violated UN covenants on economic, social and cultural rights and the rights of Indigenous peoples, including their rights to resist forced assimilation and to “participate in a state – if they choose”.

This included recognising Murrumu only by his prior name of Geia, he said.

“These unlawful actions place the commonwealth of Australia in breach of its obligations to the United Nations, such actions bring about disaffection of the United Nations and all its member states, an action that the sovereign Yidindji government does not condone,” he said.

The Yidindji “bore no ill will or malice to police officers but had issues with the top”, he said.

They had already written to political leaders including the prime minister, Tony Abbott – whom Murrumu knows personally from his time as chief political correspondent for National Indigenous Television – to propose treaty negotiations, he said.

The Yidindji wished to ultimately participate in the Australian state once a treaty had been agreed, he said, but not until then.

“We have to form the other side for the nation to have a treaty or consent with, and yet they keep pulling us back in by saying you got to have this licence,” he said.

Murrumu – under the name Geia – is due to appear in the Cairns magistrates court on 16 June.

“If Mr Geia doesn’t appear, an arrest warrant will be issued for Mr Geia, this to ensure that the state construes Murrumu’s body as surety for Mr Geia,” Gaan-Yarra said. “Non-appearance is contempt of a court or a legal process but it’s contempt of a legal process that didn’t want us in the first place. That’s the key to it all. They didn’t want us [when the Australian constitution was written] but they forced it onto us.”

On the risk of spending time in custody as a result of living under Yidindji law to the exclusion of Australian law, Gaan-Yarra said: “You’ve got that inconvenience of a few days, could be a few years [in custody], you don’t know how it’s going to play out but Mandela did 25 years.

“So a couple of years is I guess a small price to pay in detention for something that is a benefit for all Australians.”