Author Topic: John Howard: there was no genocide against Indigenous Australians  (Read 2065 times)

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Offline mayya

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John Howard: there was no genocide against Indigenous Australians
« on: September 22, 2014, 22:43:09 PM »
John Howard: there was no genocide against Indigenous Australians

Former PM says he did not accept the conclusions of the Bringing Them Home report

  • Helen Davidson
  • Follow @heldavidson Follow @guardianaus
  •, Monday 22 September 2014 08.46 BST

John Howard: ‘I didn’t believe genocide had taken place, and I still don’t.’

The former prime minister John Howard has stood by his statements the he believes the Bringing Them Home report was wrong in its conclusions that genocide had been practised against Indigenous Australians.

In a wide-ranging interview aired on Channel Seven’s Sunday Night program, Howard was asked about several controversial aspects of his leadership, including his refusal to offer a formal apology to the stolen generations.

“I did apologise in a sense; I delivered a statement of regret to the parliament,” Howard said.

“But it’s very easy to apologise for other people’s mistakes. The Australian public would have a lot more confidence in politicians who apologised for their own mistakes rather than the mistakes of others.

“On top of that I didn’t accept the conclusion of the Bringing Them Home report that genocide had been practised against the Indigenous people.

“I didn’t believe genocide had taken place, and I still don’t.”

The 1997 report was based on the result of an inquiry into government policies of forced removals of Indigenous and “mixed race” children from their parents. Many were placed with white families or in children’s homes.

The royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse on Monday began its inquiry into one such place, Darwin’s Retta Dixon home.

The Bringing Them Home report, among its findings, made the statement that “when a child was forcibly removed that child’s entire community lost, often permanently, its chance to perpetuate itself in that child. The inquiry has concluded that this was a primary objective of forcible removals and is the reason they amount to genocide.
“The Australian practice of Indigenous child removal involved both systematic racial discrimination and genocide as defined by international law. Yet it continued to be practised as official policy long after being clearly prohibited by treaties to which Australia had voluntarily subscribed.”

The interview aired on the same day that South Africa’s archbishop Desmond Tutu expressed his support for a truth and justice commission for Aboriginal peoples “to lay bare the horrors of the past and, finally, commence a national healing process for all Australians”.

He said: “It is a severe indictment on Australia that many of its Indigenous people still feel that their culture and dignity are being eroded, and that they continue to be treated as second-class citizens – 42 years after the country signed the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights.”

Tutu also criticised the Northern Territory intervention which “virtually stripped [Indigenous people] of their voice”.

Richard Weston, chief executive of the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation, told Guardian Australia: “Whilst genocide may or may not have been the intent of the stolen generations policy, it is undeniable that the impact of forcibly removing children from their families, their country and their language was not designed to support the continuance of our 60,000-year-old culture.

“The taking of children from their mothers destroyed the connections they had with each other – the most natural connection in the world, the love of a mother and child. Most people in Australia today recognise this is a brutal thing to do to a family ,any family.

“Unfortunately Mr Howard portrayed himself when he was PM, and again last night as an ex-PM, as someone who has no feeling for our people. He remains cold-hearted towards us.”