Now posts ↓

Sunday 25 March 2007

More apologies needed

Watching some of the excellent programs marking the anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade.

Moira Stewart and Miss Dynamite both did excellent shows and the show tracing the history of racism broke new ground (on TV at least).

Many Black people have rightfully called for an apology for the slave trade: given all the previous ones, it's amusing to hear the twisted explanations about why this one isn't needed as well.

Amongst the ones previously made was one to the Maoris.

If you want to apologise to anyone, Tony, apologise to Australian Aboriginal people. I can understand why this may not have come to your attention — these people are not even memorialised in Australia.

Here we're talking

'Stolen generation' kids, as seen in Rabbit-Proof Fence: this still continues.

Photo shows The Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls’ Training Home.
This was one of the government institutions in New South Wales where Aboriginal children were forcibly taken to from their families from 1912 to 1969 by the Aboriginal Protection Board, later renamed the Aboriginal Welfare Board.

Aboriginal people were not recognised as human beings by the Australian state until 1967. Previously their lives were run under the Protector and the Flora and Fauna Act.

All initiated and subsequently looked over by the British state.

Not just Australia of course, but the Blair government has continued working against Indigenous people. In fact it has been an international prime mover against the efforts of indigenous people to better themselves.

This is the position of the Labour Government
"The use of the term 'indigenous peoples'... cannot be construed as having any implications to rights under international law".

‘The UK's human rights policies concerning indigenous peoples are abhorrent and shameful.'
Dalee Sambo Dorough, Inuit spokeswoman.

Azelene, Kaingang Indian woman, Brazil .... Audio: Espanol

'I remember my first meeting at the UN.
We were defending our collective rights. A UK diplomat surprised me with the coldness with which he referred to indigenous peoples.
He looked at me and said, ‘I can’t recognise the collective rights of you people. I don’t see any difference in you – we are all the same.’
So I spoke to him in Kaingang, the language of my people.
There was no translation, and I asked him if he’d understood what I’d said and he replied, ‘No’.
Then I looked at him again and said, ‘That’s why I’m different; because only my people speak this language.’

The global issues website has more detail about the situation, which is about recognising 'collective rights'. Survival International neatly sums up why this is so important:

Full collective rights over land and resources are essential for the survival of tribal peoples. The Yanomami of Amazonia, for example, live in large communal houses called yanos. The concept of ‘individual ownership’ of such a building is nonsensical. A tribe’s right to decide, for example, whether a mining company should be allowed to operate on its land, also only makes sense as a collective right. The UK claims, however, that these vital collective rights should be individual rights ‘exercised collectively.’ In the USA, the infamous Dawes Act of 1887 demonstrated the danger of this approach. The Act turned communally-held Indian lands into individual plots; 90 million acres of Indian land were removed at a stroke, and the reservations were broken up.

UK Government blocks historic UN Declaration, Survival International, February 1, 2005

>> They Work For You <<

This country that we now call Australia always was and always will be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land.

I remember that this country, home to many diverse Indigenous Nations since the beginning of time, was colonized in 1788 and I remember all those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples who have lost their lives since.

I remember all those that have gone before, defending Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands, waterways and cultures.

I remember all those who were taken away from their families and from their ancestral homelands.

I remember, with sorrow, the lost languages, the lost tribal laws and the desecrated sacred sites.

Senator Aden Ridgewayaboriginal senator aden ridgeway at westminster

Launching and signing the Poverty Pole

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the mention of the Aborigines and the photos. I'm linking to you via one of them.