The Guardian December 5, 2001


Adding insult to injury

Respect and honesty are not in the vocabulary of the present government. 
Nor the term "stolen generations" which has already been included in 
dictionaries to describe the results of policies affecting generations of 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Peoples.

Many thousands of Australians became aware of the cruel and unjust policies 
of removing children from their indigenous parents. through the publication 
of the Bringing Them Home report into the forceful removal of 
Aboriginal children from their parents.

They have taken part in walks for reconciliation, read the report and taken 
part in discussions with Aboriginal people about the past.

They said "sorry" for the past and many continue to take part in everyday 
struggles to bring about positive changes.

The Federal Government and the Prime Minister stand accused of deliberately 
undermining the indigenous peoples' struggle for self-determination, land 
rights and meaningful participation in economic and political life.

Mr Howard's stubborn refusal to say "sorry" to stolen generations is a 
telling example of how unprepared the government is to treat Indigenous 
Australians with dignity and respect.

The coming opening of the Reconciliation Place in Canberra, which was to be 
a national memorial to advance reconciliation, has turned into another 
political ploy to rewrite history.

Slivers of glass and metal which rise from the landscape include one which 
is supposed to tell the story of stolen children. It is this particular 
sliver that had made Aden Ridgeway, Democrats Deputy Leader call for a 
boycott of the monument.

The sliver includes archival images of happy children at play  in foster 
homes and at school. These images will be strengthened by a recording of 
children singing and playing.

It has also transpired that members of the stolen generations have not been 
involved in the project! In other words, here's a monument to 
reconciliation which by its own existence once again denies the past, fouls 
the present and brings divisions into the future.

Mr Howard and his Government have once again made it clear where they 
stand. It should also be made clear to them that decent Australians  both 
Indigenous and non-Indigenous  are not prepared to be insulted and 
degraded.

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