Monday, February 18, 2008
APOLOGY TO "STOLEN GENERATION"
Every nation has dark pages in their history. Some choose to face them some don't. So far, many countries apologized from others for their crimes against them during WW 2.
The news which transmitted by media a few days ago renewed my hope for humanity. We use "lost generation", "stolen generation" terms in many countries for the unlucky periods they lived. But there is an officially "Stolen Generation" in Australia.
Wikipedia writes; "The Stolen Generations (or Stolen Generation) is a term used to describe those children of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent who were removed from their families by Australian government agencies and church missions, under various state acts of parliament, denying the rights of parents and children by making Aboriginal children wards of the state, between approximately 1869 and (officially) 1969. The Australian Parliament has accepted that this was human rights abuse and on February 13, 2008... The policy typically involved the removal of children into internment camps, orphanages and other institutions. No consensus has been reached as to the extent of the removal of children, and the reasoning behind their removal. While in some quarters it has been suggested that a eugenics policy was adopted, in others the removals were said to be done for the well-being of the children."
Below is the Australian Federal Goverment's Apology from Aborigines, the native people of the land, read by the new Prime Minister Mr Kevin Rudd at February 13th;
"The Federal Government's formal apology to the stolen generations:
Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.
We reflect on their past mistreatment. We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were stolen generations – this blemished chapter in our nation's history.
The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.
We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.
We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.
For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.
To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.
And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.
We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.
For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.
We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.
A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.
A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.
A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.
A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.
A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia. "
Some reports as; "Some in federal parliament's public gallery, including members of the stolen generations, wept as Mr Rudd delivered the formal apology - the first official business of the new Labor government. MPs were given a long, standing ovation as they rose to their feet to vote in support of the motion. In city squares and parks across Australia, and on the lawns outside Parliament House in Canberra, people cheered, applauded, hugged and cried after the apology was delivered."
We were not stranger to the "Stolen Generations" of indigenous people around the world (however they called). Similar and even worse policies performed under the name of Americanisation to Native Americans or worst in South Africa. Many cultures and native languages destroyed in this way. It is said that only in Australia 250 local languages disappeared during this period.
Of course there are some who are against the apology too. Opposition leader Dr Nelson told Parliament: "Our generation does not own these actions, nor should it feel guilt for what was done in many, but certainly not all cases, with the best intentions."
We said we are not stranger to the issue in general but we are very far to understand the heaviness of the problem from the begining. It seems like the problem of "Stolen Generation" can not end with the "Apology". There are discussions of compensations and the sociologic defination of the period; if it can be called as "assimilation", "genosite" or not. And these are very sensitive matters of our day around the world inherited from history.
Colin Tatz writes (http://www.kooriweb.org/foley/resources/history/genocide.html);"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...
...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. The Turks killed close to 1.5 million of their Armenian citizens between 1915 and 1923. One "choice" for Armenian parents was to save their Christian children by "giving" them to Turkish Muslim families. Turkey ferociously denies these events and rejects all talk of restitution. Of importance in our context is the origin of Article II (e) in the Convention. Certainly Lemkin, Donnedieu de Vabres and the other drafters of the Convention didn't seek to include "the forcible removal of children from one group to another group" on the basis of the Jewish experience. Jewish children had no such Armenian choice. Clearly they had the latter's case in mind. They may have had a thought for the 200,000 Polish children who were taken by Nazis to Germany to be raised as physically desirable Aryans. Again, they may have been well aware of the Swiss practice of removing Romani (Gypsy) children over the decades. Both Raphael Lemkin and the United Nations (especially the Greek delegate, Vallindis) ensured that removal of children, and hence their disappearance through assimilation, was a (physical) genocidal act. Jacqueline Jago has evaluated Aboriginal child removals in Canada and Australia. Canada's Indian Act saw to it that Indian children were forced off reservations into schools where the stated aims were "religious instruction and cultural assimilation". That Australia sits alongside some strange bedfellows is perhaps reason enough to wriggle out of a verdict of genocide."
As we see, as the all branches of humanity there are much more issues we share than we can imagine, regarlesss to the place we live, from which part of the world we are from. We may be too far from eachother but it is always important to fallow what is going on at the other side of the planet.
Australia's "Apology" should be an example, at least giving hope to all the world.