Genocide Debate

Genocide Debate

After the introduction of the word genocide in the 1940s by Raphael Lemkin, Lemkin himself and most comparative scholars of genocide and many general historians, such as Robert Hughes,Ward Churchill, Leo Kuper and Jared Diamond, basing their analysis on previously published histories, present the extinction of the Tasmanian Aborigines as a text book example of a genocide.[38] The Australian historian of genocide, Ben Kiernan, in his recent history of the concept and practice, Blood and soil: a world history of genocide and extermination from Sparta to Darfur, (2007) treats the Australian evidence over the first century of colonization as an example of genocide.[39]

Among scholars specializing in Australian history much recent debate has focused on whether indeed what happened to groups of Aborigines, and especially the Tasmanian Aborigines during the European colonisation of Australia can be classified as genocide. According to Mark Levene, most Australian experts are now “considerably more circumspect”.[40] In the specific instance of the Tasmanian Aborigines Henry Reynolds, who takes events in other regions of colonial Australia as marked by “genocidal moments”,[41] argues that the records show that British administrative policy in Tasmania was explicitly concerned to avoid extermination, however practices the events on the ground that lead to the virtual extinction worked out.[42] Tony Barta, John Docker and Anne Curthoys however emphasize Lemkin’s linkage between colonization and genocide.[43]

Barta, an Australian expert in German history, argued from Lemkin that, “there is no dispute that the basic fact of Australian history is the appropriation of the continent by an invading people and the dispossession, with ruthless destructiveness, of another”.[44] Docker argues that, “(w)e ignore Lemkin’s wide-ranging definition of genocide, inherently linked with colonialism, at our peril”.[45] Curthoys argues that the separation between international and local Australian approaches has been deleterious. While calling for “a more robust exchange between genocide and Tasmanian historical scholarship”,[46] her own view is that the Tasmanian instance constitutes a “case for genocide, though not of state planning, mass killing, or extinction”.[47]

Much of the debate on whether European colonisation of Australia resulted in genocide, centres on whether “the term ‘genocide’ only applies to cases of deliberate mass killings of Aborigines by European settlers, or … might also apply to instances in which many Aboriginal people were killed by the reckless or unintended actions and omissions of settlers”.[48] Historians such as Tony Barta argue that for the victim group it matters little if they were wiped out as part of a planned attack. If a group is decimated as a result of smallpox introduced to Australia by British settlers, or introduced European farming methods causing a group of Aborigines to starve to death, the result is in his opinion genocide.[49]

Henry Reynolds points out that European colonists and their descendants frequently use expressions that included “extermination”, “extinction”, and “extirpation” when discussing the treatment of Aborigines during the colonial period, and as in his opinion genocide “can take many forms, not all of them violent”[50] this is an indicator of genocide. Janine Roberts has argued that genocide was Australian policy, if only by emission, noting that despite contemporary newspapers regularly decrying “the barbarous crop of exterminators” and “a system of native slaughter… merciless and complete”, the government contended that “no illegal acts were occurring”, with the worst incidents being described as merely “indiscretions”.[51]

The political scientist Kenneth Minogue and other historians such as Keith Windschuttle disagree and think that no genocide took place.[52][53] Minogue does not try to define genocide but argues that its use is an extreme manifestation of the guilt felt by modern Australian society about the past misconduct of their society to Aborigines. In his opinion its use reflects the process by which Australian society is trying to come to terms with its past wrongs and in doing this Australians are stretching the meaning of genocide to fit within this internal debate.[54]

In the April 2008 edition of The Monthly, David Day wrote further on the topic of genocide. He wrote that Lemkin considered genocide to encompass more than mass killings but also acts like “driv[ing] the original inhabitants off the land… confin[ing] them in reserves, where policies of deliberate neglect may be used to reduce their numbers… Tak[ing] indigenous children to absorb them within their own midst… assimilation to detach the people from their culture, language and religion, and often their names.”[55]

Aboriginal Genocide, UN Genocide Convention, jurisdiction & need for a Treaty
Robbie Thorpe is from the Krautungalung people of the Gunnai Nation, the traditional owners of Lake Tyers. He has been active in initiating indigenous solutions and, in particular, has been a strong advocate for ‘Pay the Rent’, an indigenous initiative which would provide an independent economic resource for Aboriginal peoples. Robbie has initiated a number of legal actions, where he has argued that crimes of genocide have been committed against Aboriginal peoples throughout the history of the colonisation of Australia (see: ).

Robbie Thorpe on Aboriginal Genocide and the need for a Treaty (2007): “The Howard Settler Governments invasion of the Northern territory was land-grabbing racism nothing more. The invasion was part of the neo liberal structural adjustment programme of Intuitions such as the World Bank, the IMF and APEC to diminish and extinguish Indigenous rights forever.

It is no surprise to see that the four countries that were blocking the passage of the Draft Declaration of indigenous rights through the United Nations, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Canada, they are the same four states that as part of APEC are raping the marine ocean environment in the Pacific, and are further oppressing and eroding the hard won rights of their Indigenous Nations and Peoples through out the world and within their own countries.

What is happening to our brothers and sisters in the NT, is part of that process, part of that genocide.

On the 14th July Indigenous peoples worldwide stand united in their opposition to these agenda’s, invasions and to the unending dispossession and disrespect shown to our peoples.

As the Indigenous Peoples of Australia, we weren’t afforded civil rights and as such we weren’t recognised and we’ve missed that process for the last two hundred years. I don’t think you can have any laws that are appropriate for Aboriginal people in this country until you have a treaty, which ends the war. Before you have a treaty you have to have an end to hostilities. Before those processes take place, you can’t talk about having a civil rights society.

One of our rights being breached is the right to consent. Aboriginal people haven’t consented. If you do things without consent, it’s considered rape. Now, a lot of crimes have been committed against Aboriginal people. There is a history of denial, which has gone on, and these crimes are continuing.
They won’t take the fundamental steps towards establishing a civil society. They need to have a treaty; they need to end the war against the Aboriginal people. We know we’ve had a war here, but they can’t tell you what day it ended. That may be the national day this country could celebrate.

Until they have that treaty with Aboriginal people we can’t talk about making laws for Aboriginal people or applying it to them. The treaty will give them that basis of law to do it.”. [1].

Robbie Thorpe on Aboriginal Genocide, UN Genocide Convention, proper legal jurisdiction and lack of a Treaty (2000): “Australia ratified the Genocide Convention in 1949, but never legislated to protect people from crimes of genocide. So considering that this country was based upon a terra nullius of law, which meant it was an empty country, they had a hollow Genocide Act. We have challenged the Commonwealth of Australia in Thorpe v Commonwealth[1] to qualify our legal status and we argued it should be done at an international level.

You’ve got to have an umpire to make that unbiased decision… In our first case, Thorpe v Commonwealth,[2] we alleged that genocide was a crime of universal jurisdiction, and that no-one was immune from prosecution. We tried to place blocks in the system so that other people who came after us could use them, but what tripped us up in Nulyarimma v Thompson[3] was that Australia recognised the crime of genocide everywhere else except in Australia… Preventing genocide happening to our people would be a good start to having some kind of future. The [extradition] treaty became relevant to extradite war criminals, because there’s no jurisdiction over crimes of genocide in Australia. We need to extradite those people to a place where they can be tried for crimes of genocide. We are claiming we’ve got genocidists in this country, and we want them out of here, and if Australia hasn’t the facility to deal with it, we need to do something about that.

We need to extradite these people to a jurisdiction, which has it. That became relevant today, Friday July 13… This [extradition] treaty to take Konrad Kalejs, a war criminal from Melbourne, is an applicable law now for us, to apply to people like Kennett, Howard, and any other war criminals in this country…. There ain’t no future here. My people are haemorrhaging in terms of their lives. We have historical Aboriginal people who control and run our cultural business, for example – they are just the native police people, who did the ethnic cleansing and the genocide in our early days. They’re the black people who survived in our territory, and we’re a minority amongst Aboriginal people in our territory.

We’re way behind the eight ball: we’ve got no rights, we’re the most despised people, the indigenous people of this area. There’s been a lot of movement of Aboriginal people who don’t respect other Aboriginal people’s land… Absolutely, that’s our worst problem, native police. The whole issue of native police needs to be brought into light now. We’ve had the deaths in custody, the stolen generations, and everything that constitutes genocide in the Genocide Convention. Australia’s guilty of everything… Genocide would mean that the Gunnai Nation are no more; there’s a sunset on it, and they’re aiming at that. It’s been going on for a long time and we’re at the end of it… Initially it was smallpox infestation, then it was massacres and hunting them down, and then it was reserves, then as they died out they moved other blacks in, and they moved the surviving traditional blacks to other reserves in other parts of the country. They uprooted entire populations, moved them, took their children away, stopped them from speaking their language; genocide they committed in Victoria and a lot of other places.

People think genocide’s shooting people; it’s not, it’s a lot broader than that. The
cultural definitions come into it…. How do they do it [Genocide] today? They deny us resources, they destroy our sites, and they control our culture. [The Department of] Aboriginal affairs in Victoria is in control of all the Aboriginal peoples’ culture in Victoria: all the information goes there, nothing comes into the communities. The cultural officers work for them; they’re not accountable to the communities. There are no indigenous structures in Victoria. There are no elders’ councils that are not corporate bodies. There are no politically independent

Aboriginal people… We need to have a treaty. We’ve got to have an end to the war on our people. Our people are still wounded. They’re still afraid of these people. There’s still that sort of fear. Now, how can you deal with people in an honest and fair way with your rights and your future when they’re still under that duress? We’re not getting free and informed consent. We can’t possibly make decisions about our long–term future in such a short time. We’ve only had government bureaucrats doing our business on our behalf, and it’s just been a battle for our people on the ground to fight that off.” [2].

Robbie Thorpe on invasion, alien law, Aboriginal Genocide and destruction of Australian environment (1994): “What I’d like to talk about is the relationship to the land Aboriginal people have, and how the destruction of our land also represents the destruction of Aboriginal people. That can be seen right across the face of this planet. You even have indigenous people destroying their own lands now, to enable themselves to survive. It’s an absolute tragedy that this is happening. Where the land is destroyed, so are the Aboriginal-indigenous people . . . I also see the law as it is today as the single most destructive thing in the Australian environment.

What I mean is that the law that we live under in this country is an alien law which was imposed on this country. It was imposed through an invasion. A lot of people say it was settled; it’s not true. A fleet of ships came out here captained by an English naval officer, Captain James Cook. Cook’s instructions from his king were to get consent from the Aboriginal people. That failed to happen. We all know the story of Terra Nullius. For the people that don’t know what Terra Nullius means, it’s a latin term meaning empty land.

That’s how Australia was occupied, the fact that it was a Terra Nullius and that was overturned in 1992 through the Mabo decision (a High Court decision that determined that traditional land rights were not extinguished by the illegal occupation of this country – ed’s note). Under the guise of Terra Nullius the British set about committing genocide of the indigenous peoples . . . and also the unbelievable destruction of our lands. If people can imagine what it was like in this country 200 years ago, you don’t know what you’ve missed out on. You don’t know anything about what life is all about.

The condition this country is in now, probably has one tenth of its beauty left, if I can put it like that. It was an absolutely beautiful country and probably the most important thing, because of the way Aboriginal people looked after the land and because of the way they respected the law of the land, was that we had something to offer our children and that was a future. That was the driving force behind our conservation.

We were always going to be here in this country. We were a part of the creation. A part of this country just like any other of the animals that are here, the flora and fauna. Aboriginal people are a crucial element in that ecology. The crucial element.

My fears are when that crucial element is finally destroyed, which it looks like it’s going to be, particularly in the areas of southern Australia where there’s been no recognition under white mans law, the land will suffer as a result. You’ve got to remember that the indigenous people have a spiritual relationship to the land. It’s vitally important.” [3].

Robbie Thorpe on Labor- and Coalition-supported Northern Territory Intervention and Aboriginal Genocide (2007): “The Howard Settler Governments invasion of the Northern territory is land-grabbing racism nothing more. This invasion is part of the neo liberal structural adjustment programme of Intuitions such as the World, Bank, and the IMF & APEC to diminish and extinguish Indigenous rights forever. It is no surprise to see that the four countries that are blocking the passage of the Draft Declaration of indigenous rights through the United Nations, Australia, New Zealand, United States & Canada, they are the same four states that as part of APEC are raping the marine ocean environment in the Pacific, and are further oppressing & eroding the hard won rights of their Indigenous Nations & Peoples through out the world and within their own countries. What is happening to our brothers and sisters in the NT, is part of that process, part of that genocide.” [4].
[1]. Robbie Thorpe, “NT Invasion – another example of genocide”, Treaty Republic, 8 July 2007: .

[2]. Irene Watson, “Talking up Aboriginal Law in a sea of Genocide. Interview with Robbie Thorpe”, Indigenous Law Bulletin, 2000: .

[3]. Robbie Thorpe, “Relationship to the Land” (taken from Native Forest Network Australian Forest Conference Papers – October 1994), Hancock Watch: .

[4]. Robbie Thorpe, quoted in “International Day of Action: Stop Aboriginal Genocide on Stolen Aboriginal Land”, Indymedia, 22 July 2007: .
Aboriginal Activist William Cooper, Australian Aboriginal Genocide & Nazi German Jewish Holocaust
Gary Foley (born 11 May 1950) is an Australian Aboriginal activist, academic, writer and actor who helped establish the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in front of Parliament House, Canberra, in 1972, established an Aboriginal legal service in Redfern, Sydney in the 1970s and co-wrote and acted in the first indigenous Australian stage production, “Basically Black” (see: ).

Gary Foley on 1930s Aboriginal activist William Cooper and comparing the genocide of Indigenous Australians with the Nazi German genocide of Jews (1997): “In November 1938, throughout Germany a major Nazi pogrom was conducted against the Jewish community. This notorious event was dubbed kristallnacht and signalled a dramatic upsurge of violence, intimidation and persecution of Germany’s Jewish population. Less than one month later, on December 6th 1938, on the other side of the world, a Victorian Aboriginal man, William Cooper, led a deputation of Kooris from the Australian Aborigines League, in an attempt to present the German Consulate in Melbourne and attempted to present a resolution ‘condemning the persecution of Jews and Christians in Germany’. The Consul-General, Dr. R.W. Drechsler, refused them admittance.

Thus, the first group in Australia to try and lodge a formal protest with the German government’s representative about the persecution of the German Jewish community, were a group of Koori political activists representing a people who, in the previous hundred years, had themselves been subject to genocide, and in 1938 were (like Germany’s Jewish people) denied citizenship. Furthermore, Aboriginal people had also been labelled by a white supremacist society as ‘subhuman’, and subjected to scientific research to establish if they were closer to apes than humans. They had also had experience of the concentration camps that white Australia had created to contain them, and which were later used in the notorious ‘assimilation program’ designed to ‘eliminate’ the ‘crossbreeds’, ‘half-castes’, ‘octoroons’ and ‘quadroons’. The ‘full-bloods’ were assumed to be ‘dying out’ thus resolving that aspect of the Aboriginal ‘problem’…

In Tasmania about 96% of the Aboriginal population was killed between 1804 and 1834, whilst in Victoria conservative estimates suggest that up to 60% of the Aboriginal peoples of Victoria died between 1835 and 1850. Census figures published in March 1857 showed that only 1,768 Aborigines were left in all of Victoria. In northern Australia invasion and occupation of Aboriginal lands came later so that conflict continued well into this century…Australia during the 1930s was a society that held almost identical racial theories of evolution and Social Darwinism as those that dominated the ideology of Hitler’s Germany. It was the inherent assumption that ‘inferior’ peoples could be disposed of that led to genocidal acts being perpetrated in both societies. Many people today assume that what happened in the ‘holocaust’ in Europe was an aberration of history and was not possible in other Western ‘civilised’ nations, but in doing so those in settler-nations such as Australia, the United States and Canada are able to conveniently absolve themselves of their own bloody histories.

In Australia the greater part of the mass murder and genocide of Indigenous peoples occurred in the 150 years prior to the advent of Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, and that the most destructive phase of the Australian concentration camps occurred from the 1930s through to the 1960s. This means that the Australian holocaust not only has been unacknowledged, but also has persisted in different forms for two hundred years, whereas the entire period of Nazi German excesses covers less than two decades.” [1].

Gary Foley, “”, Australia and the Holocaust: A Koori perspective”, The Koori History website, 1997: .

“Bundoora Arabesque” And Australian Aboriginal Genocide” Countercurrents, 12 August, 2007. Gideon Polya , La Trobe University.
“La Trobe University, “Bundoora Arabesque” And Australian Aboriginal Genocide”
La Trobe University (Bundoora, outer Melbourne, Australia is its main campus) ranks roughly #10 out of Australia’s 40 odd universities. It can boast past or present associations with some outstanding scholars in the areas of bioethics, gay rights, science and human rights. It is named after Charles Joseph La Trobe who was a governor of Victoria in the 19 th century. However La Trobe has an ambivalent history – he was a traveler, mountaineer and writer on the one hand but during his rule the notorious Native Police were involved in the Aboriginal Genocide that delivered the rich agricultural lands of Victoria to European settlers. Indeed this ambiguity is possibly behind a statue of Governor La Trobe at La Trobe University which is UPSIDE DOWN (i.e. head on the ground, feet and plinthe in the air!).

This same dichotomy arises now. I have painted a huge painting (1.3 metre x 2.9 metre) called “Bundoora Arabesque” (for an expandable image see: ) and am using this Art to inform people around the world about the appalling, ongoing Australian Aboriginal Genocide. In this process of Art versus Genocide I have been doubly inspired by La Trobe University – I have been inspired by the beauty of Bundoora in which it is set and in which I live (Bundoora means “the country kangaroos like” in the Aboriginal language of this region – try to spot them, in the painting!) and by the example of an outstanding La Trobe University academic, Professor Robert Manne, who has led the scholarly fight against right-wing DENIAL of the Australian Aboriginal Genocide.

Professor Robert Manne of La Trobe University is widely regarded as one of Australia’s leading public intellectuals and in recent years he has been particularly forthright and articulate in his defence of Australia’s downtrodden Aboriginal community. One of the world’s and Australia’s leading experts on genocide, Professor Colin Tatz (University of New South Wales, formerly of Macquarie University), has described what happened to Australia’s Indigenous Australians as the Aboriginal Genocide – the Indigenous population fell from about 1 million to 0.1 million in the first century after European invasion (mainly through introduced disease, deprivation and horrendous violence); a policy of forcible Aboriginal child removal (0.1 million “Stolen Children”) continued up to about 1970; Indigenous Australians were not even “counted” or able to vote as Australians until after a referendum in 1967 that permitted the Federal Government to legislate about them; and horrendous Aboriginal Genocide through deprivation and discrimination CONTINUES (9,000 Aborigines die avoidably every year out of a population of 500,000 due to deliberate, sustained Federal and State Government neglect) (see: ).

Professor Robert Manne has been a leading figure in the so-called Australian “History Wars” in which many Australian scholars have pitted themselves against writers and politicians who claim that there was NO Aboriginal Genocide. Indeed the extreme right-wing, Bush-ite Australian Government refuses to say “sorry” for the past atrocities. A very notable publication is a major academic anthology edited by Professor Robert Manne entitled “Whitewash: On Keith Windschuttle’s Fabrication of Aboriginal History”, Melbourne, Black Inc, 2003. (for more a detailed list of relevant scholarly works see the following Yale University site: ). However we live in an Orwellian Age in which “money buys truth” and in which “all the news that’s fit to print” means “fit to print by the corporate Mainstream media” – denial of the Aboriginal Holocaust is alive and well in White Australia.

This has been dramatized by very recent events in Australia. In response to shocking anecdotal reports in 2006 of Aboriginal child sexual abuse in Australia’s Northern Territory (NT), the NT Government set up an expert Inquiry. The subsequent Northern Territory (NT) Report “Little Children are Sacred” concluded that from a QUALITATIVE perspective Aboriginal child sexual abuse IS occurring and this and other serious Aboriginal circumstances must be URGENTLY addressed but sensibly and with community CONSULTATION.

However the Report (p57) states that “it is not possible to accurately estimate the extent of child sexual abuse in the Northern Territory” while DOCUMENTING that 34% of females and 16% of males in Australia as a whole experience child sexual abuse (Dunne, M.P., Purdie, D.M., Cook, M.D., Boyle, F.M. & Najman, J.M.(2003), Is child sexual abuse declining? Evidence from a population-based survey of men and women in Australia, Child Abuse & Neglect, vol. 27 (2), pp141-152)
/pdf/bipacsa_final_report.pdf ).

Yet the Bush-ite Australian Federal, “Coalition” Government and Mainstream media have been commenting extensively and in very strong terms about this without actually knowing about the ACTUAL extent of NT aboriginal child abuse (for all we know it is far LESS than in Australia as a whole).The Government is simply INCORRECT in implying that it knows of the horrific extent of the NT child abuse problem when it does NOT actually know the NUMBERS – just as it was INCORRECT about children overboard (it won the 2001 election by falsely claiming that Muslim refugees had thrown their children into the sea); Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) (a falsehood used to “justify” the illegal, war criminal Australian invasion if Iraq); ignoring and denying Australian Wheat Board (AWB) bribes to Saddam Hussein; and denying huge civilian casualties in Occupied Iraq and Occupied Afghanistan (post-invasion excess deaths now total over 3.4 million).

Thus there were actually NO children thrown overboard; there were NO WMDs; everybody knew of the need for Iraqi wheat sale bribes from the mid-1990s onwards (the $250 million in Australian bribes diverted from the UN Oil for Food Program are estimated to have killed up to 21,000 Iraqi infants); post-invasion excess deaths in the Occupied Iraqi and Afghan Territories total 1.0 million and 2.4 million, respectively, and post-invasion under-5 year old infant deaths total 0.5 million and 1.9 million, respectively (largely avoidable and due to war criminal Occupier mass child-abuse in gross violation of the Geneva Convention; see: ).

The racism and neglect of the Conservative (Coalition) Australian Federal Government has created appalling Aboriginal living conditions. My recent book “Body Count, Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: ; copies in major libraries around the world) estimates that the “annual death rate” (2003 figures) is 2.2% (for Aboriginal Australians) and 2.4% (for Aboriginal Australians in the Northern Territory) – as compared to 0.4% (what it should be for a comparable high birth rate society), 2.5% (for pre-drought sheep in paddocks of Australian sheep farms), 0.7% (for White Australians), 1.7% (non-Arab Africa), 2.6% (Occupied Iraq under-5 year old infants), 6.5% (Occupied Afghanistan under-5 year old infants) and 10% (Australian prisoners of war of the Japanese in World War 2).

This is happening in one of the richest countries of the world because of deliberate and sustained neglect – Australian Aboriginal health services are funded at about 50% of what they should be according to the Commonwealth Grants Commission (2001) report “Report on Indigenous funding” (quoted by a recent and very detailed report on Indigenous Australian Health by N. Thomson et al: “Overview of Indigenous Health, 2004”:
bull_44/reviews/thomson/reviews_thomson_1.htm ).

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates “total per capita medical expenditure at average exchange rate ($US)” (2004) as $14 (US-UK-Australia-Occupied Afghanistan) and $58 (US-UK-Australia-Occupied Iraq) versus $3,123 (Occupier Australia) (see: ). With an Indigenous population of about 0.5 million that is funded at roughly the national average (despite huge morbidity and remote location problems) the EXTRA funding required is about US$1.5 billion annually – as compared to the US$0.4 billion now offered, and this largely for Army and bureaucratic personnel and infrastructure.

Let us be clear about what this legislation does and how it grossly violates the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act, International ant-racism conventions and indeed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (specifically Articles 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 17, 19, 22 and 30; see: ). Racist White Australia is proposing to grossly abuse the human rights of NT Aboriginals in a racially-specific way.

THUS: NT Aboriginals will be circumscribed about what they can read, see, drink, use, consume and purchase in ways that do NOT apply to White Australians; their welfare payments will be withheld by the Government; they will not be able to litigate to protect themselves – the Racial Discrimination Act is suspended in a racially-specific way; a Permit system, vital for keeping drug- and alcohol-pushers from remote Aboriginal communities will be abolished; NONE of the 97 recommendations of the expert NT Report will be addressed and indeed the key #1 Recommendation of URGENT ACTION WITH CONSULTATION is fundamentally violated; their Land (Sacred to Indigenous Australians) and their Communities will be seized and controlled for years by the Federal Government which currently presides over 9,000 avoidable Aboriginal deaths annually and which still refuses to say “sorry” for the past horrendous Aboriginal Genocide and Ethnocide. Indeed the Aboriginal Genocide continues – it took 90,000 lives in the last 11 years alone of rule of Australia by the Coalition Government (see “Aboriginal Genocide. Racist

White Australian Child Abuse & Passive Mass Murder: and “Racism in Australia. La Trobe, “Bundoora Arabesque” & Aboriginal Ethnocide”: ).
According to the Australian Human Rights Commission (see:
the_commission/legislation/index.html#rda ) the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 gives effect to Australia’s obligations under the International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Its major objectives are to (1) promote equality before the law for all persons, regardless of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin, and (2) make discrimination against people on the basis of their race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin unlawful.
Sanctions and Boycotts were applied successfully against the racist Apartheid régime in South Africa which had an “annual avoidable death rate” of 0.4% overall in 1993 as compared to 2.0% for Northern Territory Aborigines in Australia TODAY. The head of the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) says that the Federal Government’s legislation for intervention in Northern Territory Indigenous communities could face an international back-lash (see: ).

The Nazis wiped my family from the face of Europe. I am married to a Black Australian. The Jewish Holocaust and the Aboriginal Genocide both instruct that there must be ZERO TOLERANCE FOR RACISM. The racist Bill has already passed the House of Representatives with bi-partisan support – only Senate approval is now needed but the Senate is overwhelmingly dominated by the 2 major parties that support the Bill (only the minority Greens and Democrats oppose the Bill). Australians have been given just a few days to present submissions to a One Day Senate Inquiry into the 500 page NT Intervention Bill and about 70 submissions have been made (for details – my submission is #35 – see:
legcon_ctte/nt_emergency/submissions/sublist.htm ).

I and others have urged all Senators to vote against this Bill – a vote for this Bill is a vote against a non-racist Australia and the international reputation of this country.

The World should be watching. Tell everyone you know about the horrendous, continuing Aboriginal Genocide and the resurgent, bi-partisan-backed, politically correct racist (PC racist) New Racist White Australia.

Dr Gideon Polya published some 130 works in a 4 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text “Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds” (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London, 2003). He has just published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007:

“Sydney Madonna” & Aboriginal Genocide”
For an image of the huge “Sydney Madonna painting (1.3 x 2.9 metres) see: .

Images of Genocide

Hephzibah Menuhin was a better musician than a sociologist. But a line in one of her books remains with me: that the test of a nation’s civility and civilisation is the manner in which it treats its most underprivileged minority. An emotional rather than an empirical measure, perhaps, but it isn’t difficult to take her meaning. Who are the most underprivileged? And how does Australia rank?

In South Africa, I studied “native policy”. On arrival here in 1961, I studied “Aboriginal policy”. People who know of my dual interest still ask me, “Is it true to say that apartheid was a malevolent instrument of racial oppression, whereas racism in Australia was a form of ignorant innocence, or innocent ignorance, an inability to understand or respect indigenous culture and values, albeit with some nasty consequences?” Comparisons aside, how does one categorise Australia’s race relations?

Much of that inter-racial history I call “genocide”. In the current climate of heat in Aboriginal affairs, which I will describe, very few people use the word. Almost all historians of the Aboriginal experience – black and white – avoid it. They write about pacifying, killing, cleansing, excluding, exterminating, starving, poisoning, shooting, beheading, sterilising, exiling, removing – but avoid genocide. Are they ignorant of genocide theory and practice? Or simply reluctant to taint “the land of the fair go”, the “lucky country”, with so heinous and disgracing a label?

Australians understand only the stereotypical or traditional scenes of historical or present-day slaughter. For them, genocide connotes either the bulldozed corpses at Belsen or the serried rows of Cambodian skulls, the panga-wielding Hutu in pursuit of Tutsi victims or the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. As Australians see it, patently we cannot be connected to, or with, the stereotypes of Swastika-wearing SS psychopaths, or crazed black tribal Africans. Apart from Australia’s physical killing era, there are doubtless differences between what these perpetrators did and what we did in assimilating people and removing their children. But, as we will see, we are connected – by virtue of what Raimond Gaita calls “the inexpungable moral dimension” inherent in genocide, whatever its forms or actions [1].

There are two ways of approaching the issue. One is to use the yardstick of the only extant international legal definition of genocide, namely Article II (a) to (e) of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
1. Killing members of the group;
2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Even so, the physical killing in (a) is seen by most Australians as wholesale killing within a short or definable time-frame and in a localised geography, such as death camps. Clearly there has been no Australian Auschwitz. Clearly, if there was no Auschwitz here, then no genocide occurred here. Since 1997, as we will see, (e) has become the sharp focus. There are flaws – perhaps grievous ones – in the Convention. Nowhere is there mention of the role of the state as a perpetrator, yet it is the signatory state that is required to report (itself?) to the United Nations.

To obtain Soviet support for the Convention, political groups were omitted, thus ensuring no possible reference to the Soviet genocide of the land-owning peasants, the kulaks, or to Stalin’s elimination of those whom he defined as “enemies of the people”. Physical killing usually occurs in a compact time period – though not always so, as we will see with the Tasmanian and Queensland Aboriginal experiences. Sterilisation and removal of children imply a much more enduring time frame, over generations perhaps. We know what constitutes serious bodily harm, but how do we calculate mental harm? The Convention equalised in seriousness, and in time, the act of physical killing with the act of forcibly removing children, an idea not easy to grasp. There could well have been a scale, akin to the gradations of unlawful killing in the American criminal justice system, of genocide 1, genocide 2, genocide 3. Certainly there are gradations of genocide – differing motives, different orders and levels of intent, scale, method, outcome. Certainly the quantum leap from images of Auschwitz to sad and ragged children clustered in old sepia photographs is beyond most Australians. Critics can rail at the presence of II (e), but it is there, in a law treaty ratified by Australia in 1949, albeit with some remarkable protests [2]. Overlooked by almost everyone, including genocide scholars, are clauses (b), (c) and (d). Overlooked by everyone is Article III of the Convention: not only is genocide a crime but so too is “conspiracy to commit genocide”, the “attempt to commit genocide” and “complicity in genocide”.

In the vocabulary of genocide there are three parties: the perpetrators, the victims, and the bystanders – those without whom the perpetrators cannot effect their purposes. Within the latter category, there are those who are simply indifferent, those who are hostilely indifferent, those who are, in some degree, complicit, and those who are, for want of a clearer or better term, companions to events. One can be a companion to something even in the act of opposing it. Thus, in South Africa, I was complicit in much of apartheid while teaching and writing about the evil of the system. It seems never to occur to those who deny involvement, or legal or moral guilt, or who distance themselves from past events, that they were, and are, indeed companions, and therefore in some degree complicit.

The other measuring-rod is to be found in the much broader conceptualisation suggested by the Berlin Director of the Centre for the Treatment of Torture Victims, Christian Pross: that nineteenth-century race theory led to genocide by providing the ideological tools for a biological solution to a social (or political) problem [3]. His less forensic concept facilitates a better appreciation of justifications, ideologies, race theories, motives and moral defences. However much I prefer this approach, we should not stray from the international law wording and seek either proof or disproof in the definitions of historians and social scientists. Professor Robert Manne says he wrestles with Hannah Arendt’s articulation following the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem – that genocide is the desire (by Nazis) that certain distinct people (Jews) “disappear from the earth” [4]. Certainly Arendt was trying to find words for that which was (relatively) new in our moral (and physical) experience – a monstrous attack upon human status and human diversity. Perhaps if she had looked at that much overlooked half-brother to the Holocaust, the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks in 1915-16, she might have been less surprised and disconcerted by Nazi behaviour. Manne believes, with Raimond Gaita, that genocide can be committed by non-murderous means, such as the biological assimilation of Aborigines. He is less certain about socio-cultural assimilation.

There are many more, and better, definitions of genocide than Arendt’s [5]. Social science definitions assist us in analysis of causes and in conceptualising events. But if we venture into this realm of improved definitions, we will have no universally accepted yardstick – certainly no justiciable basis for trials of genocidal practice or for civil suits of restitution by victims. Some theorists will seek to narrow the definition and others will expand the genocidal universe to the point of meaninglessness. Chalk and Jonassohn take the narrow view that “genocide is a form of one-sided mass killing” by the state or some other authority. Charny’s much broader view sees genocide, in the generic sense, as the “mass killing of substantial numbers of human beings, when not in the course of military action …under conditions of the essential defencelessness and helplessness of the victims. [6]” He emphasises the victimness of essentially “defenceless and helpless” people, but he insists on mass killing of substantial numbers – which applies well to Australia’s nineteenth century private settlers’ killing of Aborigines but not to the “sophisticated” state removal of children. However, many cannot share his vision that the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor was “genocide resulting from ecological destruction and abuse”. The broadest view comes from the reputable scholar Henry Huttenbach: he defines genocide as “any act that puts the very existence of a group in jeopardy”. Courts would find it impossible to pinpoint “any act”, the meaning of “existence” and what constitutes “jeopardy”. Impunity in genocide is now an enormous issue, and the wider the concept the less likely any court will be able to arrive at conviction and punishment. It is quite significant that the 1998 Rome conference establishing the new International

Criminal Court had no hesitation in incorporating into Article 6 of the Court’s statute the verbatim definition given by the United Nations in 1948.
Misconstruing the nature of genocide, and failure to pay due attention to the partly precise, partly elusive language of Article II, can lead to some startling cases. There is an ongoing application before the ACT Supreme Court by four Aborigines for the arrest of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister on the grounds that by securing the Wik ten-point plan legislation in 1998 they committed specified and unspecified acts of genocide, and that all members of federal parliament have committed genocide by, inter alia, failing to enact an Australian offence of genocide [7]. The case could well be misguided and doomed, depending on the evidence adduced. We need a firm basis for both discussion and action and the only solid (and universal) definition, however flawed, is the one defined in international law. Even so, we have to look to the philosophy inherent in the legal wording of Article II, namely, that genocide is the systematic attempt to destroy, by various means, a defined group’s essential foundations. In this tighter legal sense, Australia is guilty of at least three, possibly four, acts of genocide: first, the essentially private genocide, the physical killing committed by settlers and rogue police officers in the nineteenth century, while the state, in the form of the colonial authorities, stood silently by (for the most part); second, the twentieth-century official state policy and practice of forcibly transferring children from one group to another with the express intention that they cease being Aboriginal ; third, the twentieth century attempts to achieve the biological disappearance of those deemed “half-caste” Aborigines; fourth, a prima facie case that Australia’s actions to protect Aborigines in fact caused them serious bodily or mental harm. (Future scholars may care to analyse the extent of Australia’s actions in creating the conditions of life that were calculated to destroy a specific group, and in sterilising Aboriginal women without consent.)

There has been an emotional, even an hysterical, response, to the word genocide. This century has seen several particularly well-documented episodes of the removal of children. That Australia sits alongside some strange bedfellows is perhaps reason enough to wriggle out of a verdict of genocide.
Sir Ronald Wilson, the former High Court judge who chaired the National Inquiry, was accused, among many other things, of “intemperate slander” [109]. His detractors, the Inquiry’s critics, the “senior” denialists of Australian history, do not see, nor do they wish to see, the causal chains that begin with the incursions of settlers, the destruction of environments, the “rough work”, the genocidal impulses of the squatters, the segregation-protection era of reserves, settlements and missions, the legislation which always proclaimed itself to be for “the physical, mental and social welfare” of the people, the dismissal of Aboriginal values and their evaluation as less than human, the creation of chronic dependency, and the (continuing) practice of institutionalisation, something which even Neville, a pioneer of forced assimilation, for once correctly saw all too clearly – “that coloured races all over the world detest”. It is that very premeditated institutionalisation – whether on Christian missions, cattle stations, government settlements and reserves, assimilation homes, dormitories, juvenile facilities and prisons – that helps explain the degradation, disease and premature dying over these past two hundred years.

AIATSIS Research Discussion Papers No 8

Genocide debate

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A little about page admin Kaiyu Moura (Bayles)

Now living in QLD raising her children on their traditional country, gathering food, learning the old art of building shelters, dance and the local language. For the past 20 years with her late Grandmother Maureen Watson and a dance group with 6 of her sisters Kaiyu travelled schools, festivals, events etc sharing the beauty of First Nations Culture through song and dance, stories, art, theatre, nursery rhymes, poetry etc and engaging all ages in different projects that inspire positive change. Also a poet, documentary maker, songwriter, artist, event organiser, media consultant, testing the waters of micro social enterprise by starting her own tshirt and sublimation printing business and with her own label, Kaiyu creates what she calls Freedom Threads.

After building their own home on Tribal Sovereign land, Kaiyu is now homeschooling and teaching the kids about making our own tinctures, learning about bushtucker and mushrooms, growing food, building with aircrete, setting up wind turbines, composting toilets and ram water pumps... Really learning what it truly means to thrive. This is our Group where we share alot of what we do

Kaiyu and the Tribe
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