Stolen Generations. Australian Aboriginal Genocide. Australia’s “Sorry”, Genocide Denial & Hypocrisy

Gideon Polya, ““Stolen Generations. Australian Aboriginal Genocide. Australia’s “Sorry”, Genocide Denial & Hypocrisy”, MWC News, 13 February 2008.

 

Partly cached by Google

 

Stolen Generations. Australian Aboriginal Genocide. Australia’s “Sorry”, Genocide Denial & Hypocrisy

 

On Wednesday 13 February 2008 the newly elected Labor Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, made an OUTSTANDING, historic speech to the Australian Federal Parliament  and publicly said “Sorry” for the Stolen Generations, the 19th -20th century policy of forcible removal of as many as 0.1 million Australian Aboriginal children from their mothers and an evil, racist part of the overall Aboriginal Genocide that commenced in 1788 and is still CONTINUING in 2008.

 

PM Rudd’s speech was outstanding and the historic Apology was important in its healing implications for the victims and Indigenous Australians in general. It moved us (we heard it mostly standing in our living room) and evidently moved millions of fellow Australians – and I dare say most Australians. It represents an historic turn-around, a new START, a new page, a new chapter in Australia’s history.

 

However the harsh reality is that on 13 February 2008 0.5 million Indigenous Australians were STILL mostly living in Third World conditions and the Aboriginal Genocide (9,000 Aboriginal excess deaths annually, 90,000 Aboriginal excess deaths in the 11 years of the previous Bush-ite Coalition Government) is continuing. Indeed it took an ultra-conservative commentator to point out that the term “genocide” was not even used by PM Rudd or the Leader of the Opposition in their “Sorry” speeches.

Further,  just a few HOURS after the "Sorry" vote in the Australian Parliament, the Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown moved  to amend the historic "Sorry Motion" by adding a commitment to offer "just compensation to all those who suffered loss"- but this was voted out by all the non-Green Australian Senators  in a 65 to 4 vote (see: http://www.bobbrown.org.au/600_media_sub.php?deptItemID=2545  ). It took 220 YEARS for the White Australians to finally say "Sorry" - not for  the Aboriginal Genocide which they don't Acknowledge or don't talk about  but for the "collateral" White abuse of Aboriginal  Children. However  it only took them several HOURS to show the world that they didn't actually MEAN it.

 

Now it may seem churlish to carp about these deficiencies after such a JOYOUS and important event in Australia’s history – perhaps one of THE most important events in Australian history. However the horrendous, continuing realities of the mostly Third World existence of Indigenous Australians demand urgent social responses in addition to WORDS.  Such practical responses to an acutely serious, DEADLY situation must properly derive from scientific Rational Risk Management  (see: http://rationalriskmanagement.blogspot.com/ ) that successively involves (a) getting accurate data, the facts, (b) scientific analysis (involving the critical testing of potentially falsifiable hypotheses) and (c) systemic change to minimize human risk. Unfortunately, as outlined below, this protocol was ignored on Apology Day by (a) politicians and media ignoring realities, (b) anti-scientific spin and (c) no requisite, IMMEDIATE systemic change to stop the current  9,000 annual avoidable Indigenous Australian deaths).

 

It is useful to see how other societies have dealt with the aftermath of Genocide. Thus in 1945 the Germans adopted a post-Holocaust protocol that can be summarized by the acronym C4A (CAAAA), this involving Cessation of the killing, Acknowledgment of the crimes, Apology, Amends (reparations, compensation) and Assertion “never again” (or more properly, “never again to anyone”). How has Australia – represented by the neo-Bush-ite Labor (Lab) PM Rudd and the Bush-ite, National-Liberal Party Coalition (Lib) Leader of the Opposition Dr Brendan Nelson (collectively,  Lib-Labs) -  responded now at this historic moment,  after  220 years of remorseless, ongoing Aboriginal Genocide in terms of (A) Rational Risk Management and (B) post-Holocaust C4A (CAAAA)?

 

A. Rational Risk Management

 

a. Data, the facts.

 

Neither PM Rudd (Lab) nor Dr Nelson (Lib) even mentioned the Aboriginal Genocide or the even the word “Genocide” in their speeches – an extraordinary omission in the face of the horrendous reality. Instead they concentrated on their versions of the Stolen Generations atrocity and otherwise studiously ignored Aboriginal History.  Indigenous Australians have evolved rich, highly-varied cultures over Australia over 60,000 years. In 1788 Australia was invaded by the British and the Indigenous population dropped from about 1 million to 0.1 million over the next century through disempowerment, dispossession, deprivation, disease and massacre (the last massacres occurring in the 1920s). However in the 20th century, the Aboriginal Genocide largely continued  due to egregious deprivation, “captive”  labor (paid in flour, tea and sugar) and a racist policy of forced removal of children from their mothers (the so-called Stolen Generations). This shocking, large-scale, genocidal practice was only terminated in the 1970s. However the Aboriginal genocide continues (9,000 Indigenous Australians die avoidably each year out of an Aboriginal population of about 0.5 million).

 

b. Science and “genocide classification”

 

In ignoring the Aboriginal Genocide PM Rudd and Opposition Leader Dr Nelson have violated the fundamental scientific principle that you can’t selectively rub out the data. Indeed that is what happens with anti-science spin – this involving the selective use of asserted facts to support a partisan position. Further, Science is often about “classification” and it is useful to consider the legal UN Genocide Convention-based definition of Genocide as murder committed with “intent to destroy in whole or in part” with “intent” typically evidenced by sustained, remorseless, death-dealing  Policy. This leads inexorably to classify what happened - and continues to happen - to Indigenous Australians as an Aboriginal Genocide (for expert scholarly opinions see: “Australia: Defining and Interpreting Genocide”, Chapter 4 in Tatz, C. (2003), ”With Intent to Destroy”, Verso, London; Chalk, F. & Jonassohn, K. (1990), “The History and Sociology of Genocide. Analyses and Case Studies” (Yale University Press, New Haven); Polya, G.M. (1998) “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability”, G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ; Polya, G.M. (2007) “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”, G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/1375/247/  ). To reinforce this point it is useful here to quote from the definition of Genocide as set out in Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention (see: http://www.edwebproject.org/sideshow/genocide/convention.html ), QUOTE:

 

“Article II. In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: a) Killing members of the group; b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

 

c. Systemic change

 

Rational Risk Management ultimately involves sensible systemic change to minimize risk (rather than reportage-hampering, counterproductive “blame and shame”). PM Rudd “blamed” those responsible for forcibly removing children from their mothers whereas Opposition Leader Dr Nelson profoundly offended many by seeking to “excuse” complicit individuals and generations (to the extent that huge crowds in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra turned their backs to the public TV screens in protest when he was talking).

 

PM Rudd at least indicated steps towards better housing, health and education – but what was lacking was a sense of URGENCY (e.g. he had 5-year or 10-year goals and would close the 17-year life expectancy gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australians in “a generation”). Compare this response with the reality of 25 Indigenous Australians dying avoidably EACH DAY (because of Third World living conditions and because Indigenous health is under-funded by 50%) with the Australian Government responses to solo yachtsmen in trouble.  Thus in 1997 it cost Australia A$6 million to rescue lone,  round-the–world,   UK yachtsman Tony Bullimore from his upturned yacht in the Southern Ocean and similar amounts to rescue other solo yacht-persons who have deliberately and knowingly put themselves at enormous risk in Australian waters (e.g. Isabelle Autissier and Thierry du Bois, similarly rescued in dangerous operations involving the Royal Australian Air Force and the Australian Navy at million-dollar costs; see: http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2007/s1911366.htm ) . Yet there is NO such urgency in dealing with the ongoing passive Aboriginal Genocide that surely kills 9,000 Indigenous Australians each year - 25 every day - in one of the richest but most racist countries on Earth.  

 

For numerous suggestions that I have put to PM Rudd for his very timely, proposed “Australia 2020 Summit” for new ideas, and specifically for those  to address the Aboriginal Genocide see item #7 “Options for the future of indigenous Australia” in “Australia 2020 Summit IDEAS: http://australia2020ideas.blogspot.com/ ).

 

We can now turn to C4A (CAAAA) and see how Australia compares with the post-1945, post-Holocaust Germans in their response to Genocide.

 

B. Post-holocaust C4A (CAAAA)

 

a. Cessation.  The Aboriginal Genocide is continuing. There are 9,000 avoidable Indigenous deaths annually (25 daily); 90,000 avoidable Indigenous deaths occurred in the 11 years of the Coalition Government; Indigenous infant mortality is over 4 times greater than that for White Australia (as noted by PM Rudd in his speech) ; one of Australia’s top academic and clinical diabetologists (from Monash University, Melbourne) has recently predicted disappearance of Indigenous Australians this century in the absence of requisite urgent action (about 20% of Indigenous Australians have diabetes, mostly type 2 diabetes) : http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,20745401-5003426,00.html ; the  “annual death rate” is 2.2% for Indigenous Australians, 2.4% for Northern Territory Indigenous Australians and 2.5% for Australian sheep; life expectancy is about 17 years less for Aboriginals than for non-Indigenous Australian (also noted in PM Rudd’s speech); and there are horrendous health problems (see MWC News: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/15140/42/ and the National Indigenous Times, ”The Awful Truth”, Issue 131, June 14, 2007: http://www.nit.com.au/news/story.aspx?id=11555 ).

 

b. Acknowledgment.  As described above,  the term ”Aboriginal Genocide” was studiously avoided by PM Rudd and Dr Nelson (as pointed out by a right-wing commentator) and indeed is avoided in Australian public life. The speeches of both politicians avoided the circumstances of the Aboriginal Genocide except for the Stolen Generations component.

 

c. Apology.  After  220 years of Aboriginal Genocide the Apology has finally been given and, furthermore, given in a bi-partisan fashion. However the Apology was really only given in relation to the Stolen Generations atrocity and the Opposition Leader attempted to excuse many participants in that atrocity as “well meaning”. Further, both leaders ruled out any Compensation. Indeed just a few hours after the "Sorry" vote in the Australian Parliament, the Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown (a very decent, honest, anti-racism,  pro-humanity, pro-Planet medical doctor) moved  to amend the  historic "Sorry Motion" by adding a commitment to offer, “just compensation to all those who suffered loss" - but this was, of course, LOST (65 to 4 votes in the Senate) when the neo-Bush-ite, Clintonesque Labor Government, the Bush-ite Opposition, the Australian Democrats and the assertedly "Christian values" Family First Party all voted AGAINST  it (see: http://www.bobbrown.org.au/600_media_sub.php?deptItemID=2545 ). A hollow Apology indeed.

 

d. Amends. As made quite clear before, during and after the Apology by both leaders,  there would be NO Amends (NO reparations, NO compensation) – although both the Western Australian and Tasmanian State Governments are offering compensation to victims of the Stolen Generations..

 

e. Assertion Never again to anyone. PM Rudd actually said “never, never gain” but this noble intention is immediately nullified by the continuing Aboriginal Genocide -  25 Indigenous Australians have died avoidably in the 24 hours after PM Rudd uttered those words. The Leader of the Opposition Dr Nelson made the extraordinary  assertion  (from memory) that there would be  no repetition  of SOME of the things that had happened.

 

Australian PM Kevin Rudd deserves profound congratulations for this historic and healing Apology to the Stolen Generations. But the job has just begun – the Aboriginal Genocide is continuing and must stop NOW.

 

It is up to decent folk around the World to (a) inform others (Silence kills and Silence is complicity; please send this article to everyone you can) and (b) to act by Sanctions and Boycotts to ensure that PC racist White Australia means what it says and STOPS the Aboriginal Genocide NOW.  Please make sure that the World is watching.

Comments