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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #293 - 1788: The stolen generations of colonial Australia (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Tue, 23 Apr 2019 09:37:55 +0300

The southern continent is inhabited since 60 000 to 130 000 years, by some 400 singular tribes. For English imperialism, Australia is " nobody's land ". For the aborigines she is their family, their bones, their skin, their veins. The spiritual link, carnal to the ground being inaudible to the " white guys ", it is on the historical ground that the " black guys " had to move the terms of their struggles, and to assert their rights on their own ground. ---- " You will strive by all possible means to establish relations with the natives, and win their affection, enjoining all our subjects to live in friendship and kindness towards them. And if it happens that our subjects destroy them by blind violence, or come to interrupt without necessity their occupations, that you punish these offenders at the height of the offense. With these words, in April 1787, Arthur Philip, governor of New South Wales, instructed the " subjects " of the British Crown established in Australia to treat the Aboriginal people well, thus marking a momentous impulse. generosity almost unique for two centuries.

Terra nullius
Two years later, again in April, England gave aborigines smallpox. Spreading from Port Jackson (Sydney), she reached the southern territories, then the other " frontiers " of exploration of the continent.

But the official date of the annexation of the island-continent to the Crown is January 27, 1788, which corresponds to the initial mandate given to the 1st Fleet under the orders of A. Philip: establish a penal colony as a bridgehead for occupation and exploration of the country. In 1788, the sources estimate the aboriginal population at 750,000 to 1.6 million people. In 1930, the Australian government evoked the possibility of extinction, with some 50,000 aborigines still alive.

The " founding " myths are often lies that excuse or annihilate a first massacre, an original spoliation, an ignominy thought necessary for the peace of conscience of subsequent generations.

The Australian story is based on the lie of a " land to person ", a terra nullius in the words of Cook, who made the first English scouting of Australia in 1770. He does not affirm that it is uninhabited , as will the Zionists in Palestine another criminal founding myth. He describes, as many other politicians do after him, that aboriginal people have no sense of ownership and that it is therefore perfectly legitimate for settlers, miners and thirsty cattle farmers in a country where the water resource is fragile, settle wherever they please.

In 1788, the aborigines were 750,000 to 1.6 million. In 1930, they were only 50,000.
In his diary, Watkin Tench, officer of the First Fleet, notes: " It does not seem that these poor creatures have a fixed dwelling, sleeping sometimes in a cave ... sometimes in a miserable shelter[...]. There is nothing to indicate that these huts form their permanent habitat[...]some seem completely deserted and it seems quite obvious that their habitats ... are shared by different tribes. » [1]

The idea that aboriginals had no concept of property and that hunting them from one place to another would not make them unhappy is absolutely wrong. In fact, the territorial roots of an aboriginal group in a specific place was, and remains, the basis of a social system where the aborigines themselves as guardians and guarantors of the place, since the beginning of time. Rituals and daily or occasional actions aim to maintain the spirit of the place, its power, its very existence: it is a carnal extension of the human group to which the ancestors and spirits of the Dreamtime [2]entrusted it. Gradually, from group to group, it is the country that is well meshed myths, rituals, songs that intersect and relate, as far as the people who live there, oppose or combine , according to precise and complex rules of law, passage and use of the territory. If, indeed, the concept of property is unfit to explain the link to the land, that of sacred responsibility against it is just, just like the intelligence of the right, very acute. So, every time the aborigines were torn from their territories, the settlers killed the crops as surely as their diseases and their alcohol killed the bodies.

Racist Foundations of Australia
But the English " invasion " is not without resistance. Aborigines will not cease incessant guerrilla warfare until the middle of the 19 th century. The forces involved are, however, disproportionate and firearms, as much as the number, and especially the disease, will quickly crush propellant lances and throwing sticks. And then, it is morally, psychologically attacking their vision of the world, their spirit, that here, as in Africa or the Americas, the colonial power will seek to destroy the aborigines.

In 1838, the government of New South Wales [3]named an " Aboriginal Protector ". On paper, its role is to preserve them from the injustices and encroachments of the settlers. In reality, this is the first step of a policy that is not only paternalistic, but also authentic ethnic cleansing. Reserves comparable to those of the United States are set up, where the populations are displaced without regard to languages, tribes or territory of origin. The Aborigines Protection Act (1886) [4]regulates marriage, displacement and employment of the aboriginal population. A first " decree of the half-bloods "Removes them from their families in a dynamic of forced assimilation, supposed to lead to the" natural " closure of the reserves, once the aboriginal blood has been completely diluted in that of the white population. A politician will say a few years later: " It is our duty not to let these children, whose blood is half British, become vagrants and rejected as are their mothers. A good number of blacks and half-breeds are absolutely useless and live in idleness and prostitution ... If they were removed from their environment of temptations, it would come out only good ... It may seem cruel to remove an aboriginal child to his mother, but in some cases it is necessary to be cruel to be good. "[5]

The stolen generation
Eugenics, lynchings, racial politics, sexual exploitation, unilateral laws, paternalism, militant puritanism, massacres of tribes who remained " savage ": the entire colonial repressive apparatus was summoned to " convert the half-breed into a white citizen " (Cecil Cook, protector aborigines of the Northern Territory). At this stage in its history, Australia obviously does not reduce the " Aboriginal problem " only to Métis, but will intensify this " conversion " through proper genetic means, inspired by ideologies of the late XIX th until Nazism. This same C. Cook claims that " generally, in the fifth or sixth generation, aboriginal characteristics are eradicated. The problem of our half-breeds can be quickly eliminated by completely eliminating the black race by immersing their offspring in those of whites " (1927).

The repressive system put in place by the Aboriginal Act of 1905, gathers the natives in " concentration camps " - an English practice inaugurated during the Boer War in 1899 - and launches the policy of kidnapping children to their parents. Every aboriginal child, whether their parents are alive or not, is first under the tutelage of the " Protector of the Aborigines ".

The Aboriginal Act of 1905 led to the creation of true concentration camps.
The " stolen generation " is about one out of every three children abducted from their parents, placed in orphanages or handed over to white adoptive parents. The scope of the guardianship powers of the " Protector " increases with the years, and if it is necessary at least to pretend that the children were " neglected " or mistreated in the law of 1905, in 1915 this clause jumps and the agency charged " protection " should no longer justify its decisions to separate parents and children.

In 1937, the first conference on health ( welfare ) puts indigenous assimilation in the center of the aboriginal issue and states that " the fate of indigenous ultimately lies in the absorption, to take place in the white community, equality with whites ".

In fact, the pulling out of children to their families will continue until 1970, and it is only the report Bringing them Home (1997) that will admit to the country that the stolen generation was the instrument of an " act of genocide, aimed at exterminating indigenous families, communities and cultures ".

An incessant fight
Aborigines, beyond the diversity of their languages, despite their decimation by diseases, alcoholism, assimilation, will not cease, from the first day of colonization, to fight. Abandoning spears for the social and legal struggle, the 1946 Stockmen (Cowboys and Farm Workers') Great Strike will inspire all future movements against discrimination and injustice.

Aboriginal Stockmen are paid tobacco or food stamps. Terrible conditions of work, absolute arbitrariness, non-existent labor law, salary amount (when it exists) at the boss's discretion ... Two indigenous jurists, Dooley Bin Bin and Clancy McKenna, decide to organize their people. The idea of a direct action was launched in 1942 by 200 elders from 23 different peoples. It was launched on 1 st May 1946 to Pilbara (Austr. Occ.) Around the perception of a minimum wage; 20 of the 22 agricultural stations go on strike. It extends to the northern territories where it is severely repressed. The rest of the country is following suit and the unions are massively supporting the action: a boycott of support from the seafarers' union, 19 unions in Western Australia, seven national federations or centers will help the Stockmen until 1949. They set up self-management based on their ancestral organization, fundamentally egalitarian and united, accustomed to autonomy.

Nun driving stolen children at New Norcia Mission.
Under the incredulous eyes of Whitefellas society (the " white guys "), the Blackfellas of Pilbara will not only have demonstrated a combativeness on all subjects (centrality of the tribal territory, citizenship, labor law, racism), but also the will they have done in their own way, completely original, almost always in self-management, relying on their cultural structures forever, employing Aboriginal art to assert their territorial claims, [6]to overthrow the very concept of terra nullius . [7]

It will be necessary to wait until 1967 for the Australian citizenship to be given to the aboriginals and métis, 1992 so that a Prime Minister admits that " by ignorance and prejudice ", " it is we who removed the children to their mothers ... discriminated and excluded ... destroys a whole way of life ... " It is in 2004 that the last paternalistic guardianships disappear and in 2008 that the government presents the apologies of Australia to the victims of the stolen generation.

Cuervo (AL Marseille)

[1] " Tench Watkin ", on the Australian Dictionary of Biography online dictionary.

[2] Dreamtime: sacred space-time that does not refer only to a past legendary time, but constantly updates itself in the present.

[3] The name of the Australian territory retains this name until 1827, when the whole continent is claimed by England.

[4] See " Aboriginal Protection Act 1869 " at www.foundingdocs.gov.au for a first application of this law to the state of Victoria in 1869

[5] JM Drew, member of the Labor government of 1924 on the occasion of an amendment to the " Protection " laws .

[6] Aboriginal art, whether painted on the ground or on canvas, represents spiritual or historical subjects generally taking place in a specific and identifiable geographical location. These paintings are all cards. The work of art is recognized as legally valid and acts as an act of property in the absence of European titles, nonexistent, of course, 100 years ago.

[7] The case Mabo vs. Queensland.

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