Aboriginal children today have the same life expectancy as white children in 1900. Yet most Australians can't understand why there was an uprising in Sydney this year.
By John Pilger - 12 July 2004
On 8 July, BBC2 showed an outstanding documentary called The Boy from the Block, which deserves to be repeated. It is about Australia and opens with a picture-postcard view of a beach and its board riders and bikinis, and progresses to the popping of corks at a smart Sydney art gallery. Here is the Australian bourgeoisie at its most relaxed: drinking good wine, partaking of culture and making money.
A young woman is asked what she likes most about Aboriginal art, which the gallery is featuring. "Oh, it's a great investment," she says. "For me, it's like superannuation." The camera pulls back to show the Aboriginal artist, the guest of honour, surrounded by white art lovers. Everyone is smiling. If you are a talented Aboriginal artist, says the voice-over, everyone wants to be your friend. If you are not like her, almost no one wants to be your friend.
The reporter is David Akinsanya. I heard about his film when I was in Sydney earlier this year. He is a black Briton with a way of reporting that is devoid of television's cliches and veiled insincerity. In his film, he achieves what his Australian equivalents rarely do - that is, the few who try. He tells the truth about the heartbreaking, shaming treatment and abandonment of Aboriginal Australia.
On a hot, steamy morning last February, only a few miles from the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, Thomas Hickey died: 17-year-old Thomas, or "TJ" as he was known in the Aboriginal community of Redfern, was chased by police, lost control of his bike and was impaled on an iron fence. The police deny that version, and not a single Aborigine believes them.
The Block is an Aboriginal ghetto where the police impose a siege; few Aboriginal youngsters walk down the street without being stopped; almost all of them have been arrested. Aborigines comprise less than 3 per cent of the Australian population, and 60 per cent of the inmates of the country's prisons; once inside, many die by their own hand and some are beaten to death. Aborigines on average live more than 20 years less than the average white Australian. As Akinsanya points out, Aboriginal children like TJ's four young sisters have the same life expectancy as white children in 1900. Alan Madden, an Aboriginal elder, tells him: "When you come to Redfern, if you can't find a blackfella that's related to you, they're either dead or in jail."
So TJ's violent death was not unusual. What followed was extraordinary. Aboriginal youths in the Block erupted, setting fire to Redfern railway station and showering lines of riot police with Molotov cocktails and stones. Sydney is not Los Angeles; Sydney is relaxed, as people keep saying, which means that most whites can go about their business without laying eyes on a black Australian, let alone having to think about righting a historic wrong. Visitors to Australia are often taken aback by the callous dismissal of the largely invisible indigenous population.
The uprising on the Block disturbed this, temporarily. There was outrage ("Bulldoze the Block," said the leader of the state opposition) and there was hand-wringing. Articles appeared describing the deprivation; church leaders spoke out. Then silence again. A fortnight later I joined Gail Hickey, TJ's mother, and other Redfern people at a rally outside the New South Wales parliament in the centre of Sydney. Lyall Munro, a tireless, eloquent activist who sees political solutions to the problems of Aboriginal Australia, read out a list of positive reforms that dealt with housing, policing, corruption. Not a word was reported in the city's major newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald.
On 30 March, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's flagship current affairs series, Four Corners, broadcast an "investigation", Riot in Redfern. The reporter urged teenagers to "confess" their part in the riot and so incriminate themselves, and all but accused Munro of having actively encouraged the violence. No real evidence was offered, but the implication was familiar enough: once again, black Australians were to blame for their own despair. No attempt was made to explain the roots of Aboriginal rage or, as Munro put it in the BBC film, "the shit that our young people have been copping most of their lives"; or the suicides, or the drug-taking, or the legacy of an entire generation stolen from their families. The divisions among Aborigines were highlighted, or exploited, but not explained. Watching it, white Australians could shake their heads and resume their relaxation.
David Akinsanya's film is the opposite. It shows the generosity of spirit and warmth of Aboriginal families such as the Hickeys. It astutely presents whites with their own prejudices. Steve Price, a Sydney radio presenter, speaks up for "white Anglo-Saxons" when he asks almost plaintively: "Why can't Aborigines be more like us?" In spite of a constant presence in Redfern, the police make remarkably few arrests for hard drugs. "They turn a blind eye," Akinsanya says. "Many Aborigines suspect that the police would rather allow Sydney's most notorious drugs market to be contained in a block where Aborigines live than allow it to spread to other areas of the city."
This is how many US police forces "contain" the spread of hard drugs in black ghettos. The result, as a senior police officer in Detroit once explained it to me, is that young blacks are "contained" in a prison that is as much on the outside as on the inside.
Two months after TJ's death and with the hand-wringing long over, the federal government of John Howard announced the abolition of the only independent, elected national Aboriginal institution funded by Canberra. This is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, which is accused of being "flawed" and wasting good tax dollars. The commission funds 36,000 places in an employment programme; it has programmes in healthcare, education, sport and culture. These will go. The government also plans to dismantle the Aboriginal Legal Service, which will mean that thousands of Aboriginal offenders will be refused legal assistance.
In the run-up to the Millennium Olympics in Sydney, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination distinguished Australia with its first adverse finding on racial discrimination against a western nation. Coming almost routinely from Amnesty and other human rights groups, the opprobrium has the echo of that directed against apartheid South Africa. The numbers make the difference. You can visit Australia and go to the beach and the opera and a smart art gallery and never be reminded of this society's darkest secret. In the BBC film, Ray Vincent, an Aboriginal elder, looks at the camera and says: "It's all part of the anger that's within me all my life."
Do you remember back in 1997, the Hopi Elders appeared with Dr. Robert Ghost Wolf on Art Bells Coast to Coast show, they spoke to millions of wary listeners around the world as they 'predicted' the coming of The Blue Star Kachina and that the Purifier, the Red Star Kachina would follow shortly after the twins (Hale-bopp) had passed from our heavens.
They spoke about us seeing strange things going on with animals, frogs with six legs, rabbits with four ears, animals being born with both genders. They spoke of Earth Changes, and 'Firestorms," and they talked about the Eight Thunders Prophecies... and the Pale Prophet.
The following is an excerpt from LAST CRY Native American Prophecies & Tales of the End Times, by Dr. Robert Ghost Wolf, 1994-2004.
Chronology of the ongoing genocide targeting the San Bushmen in Southern Africa
Prolog by Chris Mapassa - updated
Black Africans of Bantu-speaking origin MUST give back the land THEY stole from San!
When their Bantu (Nguni) ancestors migrated south from central and west Africa, did they ask permission to take the land from the San? Bantu genomes clearly take their origins to the lands closer to the equator.
The San now claim their original rights to the land in Southern Africa. Criteria for DNA guidelines concerning Khoi-San vs non-Khoi-San classification will be determined soon.
Where do the descendents of Bantu invaders find themselves in this classification?
You clearly assumed the land you colonised before the Europeans arrived in Southern Africa was yours, and have thereby now opened the door for a legitimate claim by the San.
This is serious – by your own rules you have opened the door for those with a strong dominance of San genomes to claim ownership to the majority of land, if not all of it.
If you are below the San genome lower limit criteria that will be established, then you are non-San. If you fit this category of being non-San, and you are claiming South Africa land rights, then this is only a further endorsement and strengthening of the San First Nation’s claim to significant overall land rights in Southern Africa.
Subsequent to this highly publicized international call below, Matthew McDaniel got arrested by the Thai authorities and - while the USAmerican Ambassador did nothing except playing on the golf course in the capital, Matthew was only freed by international pressure mounted by a civil society organization. However, he was then later deported and continues the struggle for the Akha from outside Thailand. His wife and children could be rescued too and live now in what is exile for them, but together as a family to fight the fight for the sovreignty of the Akah people. (see: www.akha.org and https://akha.blogspot.com ). Thailand still remains to be a vassal of the USA and daily human rights abuses against the Indigenous Peoples are reported.
Matthew McDaniel can now be reached via e-mail and phone: +1-971-388-7185
The Battle for Hooh Yoh Akha
From Matthew McDaniel
Urgent Action Required
Hooh Yoh Akha Village Forced Relocation
Ampur Mae Faluang
Jan 2, 2004
This year the annual World Environmental Summit on Sustainable Development is to be held in Johannesburg from August 26 to September 4. It would seem to be an appropriate venue. Unlike many other parts of the continent, or indeed the Third World, Southern Africa has long been a leader in environmental innovation. There have been many success stories. Perhaps the best is the CAMPFIRE project, started in Zimbabwe in the late 1980s, which – despite many teething problems – pioneered a way for rural Africans to make money from wildlife by leasing out hunting and eco-safari concessions, thus drawing income from, rather than competing with, wildlife and wild habitat. Neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Namibia and Botswana have adopted similar policies. At the coming summit, these projects will no doubt be held up as models for the rest of the globe to follow.
Contributors to openDemocracy’s City&Country strand have already drawn attention to the intimate connection between hunting and landscape, an issue currently being brought into sharp focus in the UK by the attempts to ban fox-hunting there.
In 1994 I went to Canada, and 1997 they accepted me as a refugee. Not knowing what was awaiting me, I thought that all my problems were over, and I was going to live a happy life. Somehow for six to seven years my life went on as I was expecting, studying, working, and so on. In March 2001 the perps which I believe are CIA and the CISS of Canada agents targeted me for the first time when I was living in Toronto, Ontario and that was the beginning of most horrible era of my life.
First I was not sure what was going on, but it started with horrendous nightmares every night; then I realized some people that were following me around, residing beside my apartment and coming to my work place before that happened were CISS and CIA agents. After that I moved around, and every 5 to 6 months I changed my apartment, but they always targeted me, and I only was able to run from them whenever I was not sleeping in my car or in my apartment. But from 2005 they never lost me for one minute, and that was when the horrible tortures started.
They were directing sharp microwaves at my head that I had to remain still and could do nothing. I wrote a letter to Paul Martin Prime Minister of Canada at the time and sent copies to my doctor and UNHCR but it reached nowhere. Later they increased the torture by directing sharp microwaves at my eyes and ears. It was absolutely unbearable; my eyes were turning red full of blood and I lost almost 1.5 visual acuity of my sight causing my eyesight to reduce to 20/12 approximately, necessitating my having to get glasses. At that time I was working for a pizza store as a supervisor and I found it impossible for me to continue my work there or live in Canada.
Inukshuk Management Consultants
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, X1A 1G3
Phone: (867) 873-5042Fax: (867) 873-9169
Many people around the world today are deeply concerned about the decline of the planet, its eco-systems and its species-- and on a smaller scale, the deterioration of their local environments and bio-regions. Frustrated at the slow pace of public education and consciousness raising efforts, they see their respective legal systems as "courts of last resort." "We can write stronger laws," they think, "and we can force those who are destroying our planet and damaging our environments to change their ways."
VENICE, CALIFORNIA, JAN (IPS) - ''You cannot deal with the future unless you also come to terms with the past.'' US Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke intended these words for his Indonesian hosts before his visit last November to East Timor. But they could as easily pertain to the obligations of the US and other Western countries toward the soon-to-be independent East Timor.
Without a doubt Holbrooke's call for accountability was appropriately levelled at Jakarta. The Indonesian military and its paramilitary allies devastated East Timor in September in the aftermath of the United Nations-run vote on the territory's political future, destroying the vast majority of the country's buildings and infrastructure, and killing untold numbers.
And although the United Nations has assumed political and military control of the territory, many problems remain. As Human Rights Watch reported in mid-December, for example, upwards of 110,000 East Timorese remain virtual prisoners in paramilitary- controlled camps in Indonesian West Timor. The recent discovery of two more mass graves in East Timor only serves to reinforce the importance of Holbrooke's message.
This article was first presented by Moses and Rikha Havini to the UN International Conference on Indigenous Peoples, Environment and Development, Zurich, 1995. It has been sub-edited and slightly abridged with the approval of the authors.
Young freedom fighter from the Bougainville Revolutionary Army
with home made shotgun stands guard over the Panguna copper mine.
photo: Francis O'Neill, April 1994
ECOTERRA Intl. spoke with a source, who stated: "Klaus confided to me in March 1994 that he had observed large movements of weapons and ammunitions and Tutsi looking soldiers crossing from Uganda through Mga Hinga National Park into Rwanda. Klaus knew that 'they' didn't want him there and feared for his life, but he had dedicated his work to the protection of the gorillas and their habitat and said he wouldn't give up. He had reached out to other international protection ecologists, because his German sponsors were suddenly pulling the plug, and one of them was subjected to three assassination attempts in Uganda in the months before Klaus was hit. Luckily that other nature defender could escape - injured but alive. Klaus was not fighting against the indigenous Twa people, whose biggest oppressor are cruel racist circles in the government of Uganda, where a minister publicly stated that the Twa are of less value than any wildlife - Klaus resisted against the USAmerican agents and their machinations, who worked with these Ugandans under President Museveni, himself a Tutsi, who allowed the Americans to train and equip Tutsi commandoes inside Uganda and to deploy them across the border prior to the genocide."
On 6 April 1994, an aeroplane carrying Rwanda's President Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, both Hutu, was shot down on its descent into Kigali. Genocidal killings began the following day. Soldiers, police, and militia quickly executed key Tutsi and moderate Hutu military and political leaders who could have assumed control. From 7 April to mid-July 1994 up to around 1,000,000 Rwandans, including 10,000 of the persisting population of 30,000 Twa forest people, were killed and since then the Tutsi are in power.
And in Uganda the Gorillas left Magahinga in 2011.
For a Fist Full of Dollars ... the Mysterious Death of the Gorilla Conservationist Klaus-Jürgen Sucker
By Ulrich Karlowski
"Although this final report should be viewed with consideration to the fact that my involvement in the MGNP (Mgahinga Gorilla National Park) was prematurely terminated, the goals of the project, i.e. to establish a functioning national park and to improve the protection of the local flora and fauna, were successfully met. To install another person to continue the project is unrealistic and of high risk, particularly in view of the possible motives for my transfer. Unfortunately, the remaining time available to me before my transfer on August 1, 1994, does not permit me to travel to Germany right now to personally inform you of the current situation. I will undertake everything in my power to personally get in touch with you as soon as possible."
These are Klaus-Jürgen Sucker's concluding lines in his final letter to the Deutscher Tierschutzbund dated June 15. The letter arrived after his death.
[Ed.: KJS was assassinated on † 20. Juni 1994 in his place at Kisoro, Uganda]
In the 1/94 issue of the Gorilla Journal, we already relayed the sad news of the death of Klaus- Jürgen Sucker, the leader of the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Project and long-standing member of Bergorilla & Regenwald Direkthilfe (BRD). The following report gives an overview of Klaus-Jürgen Sucker's life and work, which he devoted to the mountain gorillas and their environment, and examines the facts so far known to us concerning his as yet unexplained death.
On 20 June 1994 Klaus-Jürgen Sucker was found strangled in his house in Kisoro by his housekeeper. The 37-year-old leader of the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Project in Uganda, which was created by the BRD and the Deutscher Tierschutzbund (German Animal Protection Society), was dead. The authorities gave suicide as the cause of death. However, there are many indications that Klaus-Jürgen Sucker was the victim of a crime. As a dedicated conservationist, he had many enemies, ranging from poachers and smugglers to the leaders of a developmental aid project who wanted to establish sustainable use projects in this small national park. With Klaus-Jürgen, they were dealing with someone whose first priority was the protection and conservation of fauna and flora and who acted accordingly.