ARIA nominated musician Airileke Ingram has pulled out of the Rockhampton regional council’s Rockhampton River festival over Adani Mining’s sponsorship of the event.

Airileke, a Papua New Guinean Australian percussionist, who’s album Weapon of Choice was nominated for 2013 ARIA Award for Best World Music Album, chose to withdraw from the festival after speaking with the Traditional Owners of the land where Adani is digging its mine.

After these discussions, Airileke decided that out of respect for the Wangan and Jagalingou people, and concerns about climate change, he will no longer take part in Rockhampton River.

“Our families are directly impacted by the fossil fuel industry, in particular by Reef bleaching & rising seas. It is disappointing to learn that the festival has engaged Adani / Bravus as its principal sponsor, as this seems counterintuitive,” Airileke wrote in a statement.

Wangan and Jagalingou people have expressed concern about the impacts that the Adani coal mine will have on the underground water that feeds into the sacred Doongmabulla springs.

In July it was revealed that Adani pumping out groundwater ahead of mining has led to a drop in aquifer levels, with groundwater monitoring data from one aquifer on the mining lease showing a drawdown of 50 meters over the past two years.

“We also found it very disappointing to learn of the treatment of Indigenous Land Owners by your principal sponsor,” Airileke continued. “In order to maintain credibility in the arts industry as a major event I would encourage you to consider your options for resourcing the Festival.

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“On this occasion we choose to stand in solidarity with the traditional owners of this country, and I would encourage the festival organisers to do the same.”

Airileke continued to note that the pandemic has been a tough time for artists, and “turning down a booking for a festival isn’t done lightly.”

“But we’re not willing to put our names and our music alongside a company like Adani who is destroying the environment, polluting our climate and disrespecting Traditional Owners. That’s the opposite of what we stand for as artists,” he continued.

Wangan and Jagalingou people are calling on other musicians playing the festival to use their platform to stand in solidarity with First Nations people and speak out on the cultural and environmental issues of the Adani mine.

“We call on all the artists at the Rockhampton River Festival to stand in solidarity with First Nations people and speak out about the devastating impacts Adani’s mine will have on our country and culture,” says Coedie McAvoy, a Wangan and Jagalingou man who, for the past eight weeks, has been conducting a cultural ceremony on traditional lands covered by Adani’s mining lease.

“Adani’s sponsorship of this festival is an attempt to erase their bad reputation as a company that has trampled the rights of First Nations people and trashed the environment,” McAvoy continued. “But they can’t erase us as a people, we will continue to resist their destructive mine and exercise our human rights to carry out our cultural practices on our land that we never gave consent to be handed over to Adani to mine coal.”

Adani sponsored the Rockhampton River festival under the rebrand Bravus Resources and Mining.