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Aboriginals win human remains battle

The first steps of a fight to stop testing on Aboriginal remains in Britain’s Natural History Museum appear to have been successful.

ABC News (Australia) [1]

Last Update: Friday, February 9, 2007. 7:35pm (AEDT)
Aboriginal Centre wins battle in war over museum remains

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre has been successful in the first step of its fight to stop a British museum performing tests on Aboriginal remains.

The Tasmanian Supreme Court has ordered that the centre becomes the administrator of the estates of 17 Tasmanian Aborigines, whose remains are in the Natural History Museum in London.

The decision by Chief Justice Peter Underwood comes after the museum refused requests by the Australian Government to return the remains without performing DNA tests.

The centre is now seeking an injunction in the High Court in London to get the testing stopped.

The centre’s president, Michael Mansell, says today’s decision is unprecedented.

“For 30 years we’ve been going to the Natural History Museum and begging them to hand the remains back and to stop doing the tests that they always threaten to do,” he said.

“Their decision to carry out tests is just spiteful, they just say, ‘oh well if we have to hand the remains back we’re going to do it in a way that really is going to be offensive to Aboriginal people, to the Australian Government and to the people of Australia.'”