Mary Irvine’s Blog: Why is Australia not being condemned worldwide for its Human Rights abuse?

If there is anyone out there who can give me a rational, acceptable answer to the above I should be most grateful. However my brain cannot conceive of an answer that would in any way justify the treatment of the indigenous population of Australia by that country’s government and, it appears, a large percentage of the white population.

This is one of the richest countries in the world with an excellent standard of living – for the most part! The indigenous peoples, whose ancestors lived in the country long before any white ‘settlers’, are denied not only the most basic needs considered necessary in our civilised world but are denied dignity and respect.

I do not have a TV but do use iplayer on a selective basis. In the early hours of Xmas morning – c.0230 – my 22 year old grandson asked me to watch John Pilger’s ‘Utopia’. Ryan had already seen it but wanted to share and discuss the content such as people being denied basic vaccination, clean water and safe housing. Forced to live in conditions more often seen in exceptionally poor countries. Pilger commented that the conditions had not improved since his former documentary some twenty years earlier.

See for more info on the film and its availability.

I would not describe myself as a political animal although I did once carry a banner which read ‘Hands off Cuba’ and later raised money to support the work of ‘The Rainbow Warrior’. Yes, I am that old! Oh, a cosmetics company once threatened to take me to court over activities making people aware of that company’s animal experiments.

Family and friends would probably describe me as relaxed and phlegmatic but I have never felt so angry, both during and after the programme. I respect John Pilger as an investigative journalist and believe he has integrity. The fact he was born in Australia also, for me, adds credence to his report.

I wanted to do something. Online petition? No, didn’t want the entire Mickey Mouse clan signing up. Round robin letter emailed to all my friends, colleagues etc asking them to send it in to their MPs? Small distribution and MPs probably aware of situation anyway. Marches? Too long in the tooth for that! It nagged. What could I do? I could make people aware. So that is what I hope I am doing.

I am used to research so began by accessing the web – speeches, newspapers, articles by other concerned people, government sources (fascinating!) – to give me wider perspectives and viewpoints on the situation.

What shocked me – although, sadly, it didn’t actually surprise me – was the website of the Foreigh and Commonwealth Office of Great Britain. I looked at only the last two years of written replies given to questions being asked about Human Rights issues; the list began to be very repetitive. I present some comments, which don’t so much answer as beg further questions.

19/12/2013 (Guatemala)

‘We are committed to supporting the rule of law and the protection of human rights.’

18-19/12/2013 (Sri Lanka)

Mention was made of ‘horrific abuse of human rights’, ‘horrors vested on the people by its leaders. We fully support the UN Human Rights Council’.

16/12/2013 (Burma)

‘We are very concerned by the number of disturbing and specific allegations of human rights abuses.’

16/12/2013 (India)

‘We….continue to monitor the general situation…’

10/12/2013 (Ukraine)

‘My honourable friend is absolutely right –anyone who has orchestrated any sort of violence in contravention of the basic norms and rights should be held to account publicly with the full weight of the law holding them to account for their actions.’


Foreigh and Commonwealth Office of Great Britain.

To read – comments from January 2014 on human rights’ abuse in at least fifteen other countries but Australia is still not mentioned. The supreme irony is that on 9th November 2012  a written reply included the following: ‘We co-ordinate closely with regional partners, including Australia and New Zealand, on how best to support the Papua New Guinea Government in improving human rights.’ Words almost fail me apart from the word ‘Hypocrisy’.

I am proud to be British and support the Monarchy but I am concerned about what appears to be an invidious, systematic approach to genocide in a Commonwealth country that is not being condemned by my Government.

This is the year of the Commonwealth Games Their motto is ‘Humanity-Equality-Destiny’.  One hopes that all competitors compete with a clear conscience that their country is not abusing any of their people’s human rights.

I ask that anyone reading this will pass the information to friends, colleagues, MPs and any appropriate organisation to raise awareness of this neglected area of Human Rights abuse.

Mary Ivine's Blog: Greek Classical Tour – Part the Third
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This section: Mary Irvine: Writer and Philhellene

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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