Australia is a deadly place for First Nations Peoples and there is plenty of blame to go around.
It would be easy then as most do to heap that blame on “Right Wing Nut Jobs” and leave it at that. It is of course true they are often the worst offenders, Howard’s intervention, the largest and most recent example. But the left, the centre and less often explored people of diverse backgrounds have plenty of blame to share and as nobody ever points that finger, I will. But let me quickly focus on why that must be done; if it’s only the Right who treat First Nations Peoples poorly then surely during periods of Left and Centre rule there is progression for the better? Surely in communities that are wealthier, more ethnically diverse or more “tolerant” things are better? No, No, No and No! Since a musket was first fired from one of Captain Cook’s landing craft at the Gweagal people things have not gotten better, the abuse and mistreatment, the genocide if we are to be honest, has continued. What has changed is the way First Nations People die, where once a gun or a musket was the murder weapon, now those deaths occur in prisons, by suicide and by criminal neglect.
The lazy argument made is that Australia is a racist country and this is why it occurs, whether that assertion is accurate or not is really not insightful at all. Australia is xenophobic (Please explain?), it has a long history of being distrusting of new arrivals, of treating them often as criminals simply for who they are (Internment of Japanese & Italians) and of using their presence here for political gain. This has been the plight of the Irish, Catholics in general, the Chinese, the Greeks, Italians, Vietnamese, Lebanese and now squarely aimed at Muslims. But while each of these groups have become so part of the Australian make up that they are part of our political systems, business class and cultural and culinary complexity, First Nations Peoples have always been left last…, deliberately. The Left and sometimes the Right have embraced these new arrivals, admittedly too slowly at times and there are millionaires from all those backgrounds named above, not true for First Nations People unless you can kick a football.
Identity politics has much of the blame to take, as does the Americanisation of the debate about Black Lives in this country and the new emergence of radically “correct” folks and the People of Colour movement. While new arrivals often congregate for good reason in certain suburbs and towns before spreading out over time, First Nations Peoples are forcibly removed from lands that have been their own for thousands of years. The “ascent” into the wider community is not voluntary or through progression but forced, violent and genocidal. The Americanisation has meant that while the names of Rodney King or Trayvon Martin are well known, those First Nations Peoples treated the same here in Australia are largely unknown. Finally the co-opting of Indigenous suffering by People of Colour dilutes to the wider community the suffering and trauma faced by First Nations Peoples and makes equals of those who are not equal.
Elizabeth Cook Lynn, a member of the Crow Creek Sioux tribe writes:
Native populations in America are not “ethnic” populations; they are not “minority” populations, neither immigrant nor tourist, nor “people of color.” They are the indigenous peoples of this continent. They are landlords, with very special political and cultural status in the realm of American identity and citizenship.
Change America to Australia and the same truths apply. It is with First Nations Peoples, the landlords of this country that a treaty must be signed to finally end the conflict, the invasion first started by the firing of Cook’s guns. All wars end in treaties, WWI with the Treaty of Versailles, WWII with the Paris Peace Treaties that ended the war in Europe, but that war still wages here. The benefits of that war continue to flow to the victors, the Non-Indigenous people who are of European decent but who are also of ethnic groups who have come to claim the title People of Colour (A history lesson is needed there but not today). So while Indigenous life expectancy is disgraceful in Australia the life expectancy of all Non-Indigenous people is not and this includes People of Colour. While the incarceration rate of Indigenous men, women and children is horrific for Non-Indigenous people, again including People of Colour it is not.
This is important because while the progression to prosperity of those people is a well-documented example of why Australia is a multicultural success story, the space that is taken and the appropriation of Indigenous suffering continues. Without naming anyone, a number of high profile “People of Colour” have used either their places in the media or their social media to claim that theirs is the most disadvantaged and persecuted community in this land. Based on any measure or metric this is plainly absurd, from the arrival of Cook the most disadvantaged peoples by a very large margin have continued to be, in unbroken fashion, the First Nations Peoples of this land. This resulted in the absurd situation last night on QandA where following Four Corners expose of horrific torture, cruel and unusual punishment committed against First Nations children in the Northern Territory, equal time was then given to whether ALP MP Ed Husic did or didn’t do anything wrong by being sworn in on the Quran.
It really doesn’t matter whether somebody is sworn into the Federal Parliament on the King James Bible or the Rick James Bible, this is the place where laws are made that ruin, destroy and kill dead the lives of First Nations Peoples. That it provoked equal outrage by many on social media and a frenzied Oppression Olympics is nothing short of disgusting. The abuse suffered by children as detailed in Four Corners was described as follows “This is barbarism, this is inhumane, this is child abuse. “Lawyer, “What’s going on with children in detention here is a deliberate, punitive, cruel policy.” Lawyer, “They had absolutely nowhere to run…Those children were afraid for their lives.” Children’s Advocate. What was detailed, what was seen in video was the systematic abuse of children by prison officials. Stripped naked, tear gassed, held in solitary confinement, hooded and restrained like rabies infected dogs while being laughed at by their captors.
Yet not one member of the QandA panel suggested the discussion go from a religious book back to the abuse of children, that it would be a more responsible and timely, dare I say urgent matter to address. This was of course when the Oppression Olympics went into overdrive, where people of all religious backgrounds frenzied at their right to swear on any book they like. And they are right, they can and they should. But having just watched Black children be tortured by the state some went on to claim theirs was the worst of persecutions, forgetting all the while this to be both ridiculous in the face of all evidence and an affront to the Sovereignty of all First Nations Peoples whose sacred land has had built on it the religious institutions whom have never sought the permission of the rightful owners and who have often used these institutions as the bases from which further abuse has been carried out against First Nations Peoples. Forced conversion, theft of land and of children, child abuse and radicalisation is all part of the continuing genocide.
So while some of the children depicted naked on national TV as they are abused remain in custody, while the deaths of Ms Dhu, Mr Ward, Mr Briscoe and hundreds of others go unpunished, while the families of Bowraville continue to fight for justice for three beautiful Black children murdered, while life expectancy, suicide, incarceration, trauma and suffering on both an individual and collective level continue at genocidal levels the space that is needed to give oxygen to these issues is often taken by the very people who claim to care. Worse this suffering is co-opted to further their own arguments that this country treats their ethnic or religious group worse than any other and name drops any example of Indigenous suffering they could Google to help prove their point. While never having lifted a finger to help First Nations People, while never having listened, nor cared, nor cried or taken the time to question their own privilege that frees them of this early death, incarceration and suicide. That pays them and gives them platforms and allows them to climb the ladder while often stepping on Black heads…, the heads of imprisoned children.
No, on that you cannot blame Howard or the Right, they have a lot to answer for but so too do many others who will ride the wave of Indigenous pain to a better life for their future generations, while once again First Nations Peoples are left behind. Waleed Aly has the privilege to sit on The Project panel, earning a pretty sum and tell people to be nice to racists, well tell that to the children of Don Dale Youth Detention Centre or the Families of Bowraville. Times up, your privilege must take a back seat if any dent is to be made into the suffering of all First Nations Peoples of this land you call home.
When the manager of singer Gurrumul looked at Royal Darwin Hospital’s clinical notes on the acclaimed Indigenous artist his reaction was: “They’ve just put him in a corner to die.” (1)
By now everyone is or should be aware that RDH left Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu to die from a chronic illness he has suffered since childhood. He had vomited blood, had internal bleeding and required immediate surgery and yet he was forced to wait 8 hours before he was attended to in which time he could have quite easily died. There are allegations that he was either racially profiled or that the hospital is completely incompetent. “The racial profiling allegations were “completely ridiculous”, said hospital spokesman Professor Dinesh Arya.” So we will have to assume that the professor while dismissing the racial component is admitting to the complete incompetence because no hospital in Australia should be leaving any person vomiting blood to wait 8 hours to be cared for.
But there are signs Professor Dinesh Arya’s denials about racism being involved are also wrong, Gurrumul’s long time manager Mark Grosse sighted the notes made by hospital staff that essentially stated he was a “drinker” and well you do the math. Professor Arya claims he visited Gurrumul, although this is denied by his manager as Gurrumul does not remember the visit, nor do the ward’s staff and Gurrumul’s Specialist also sighted the suspect notes. Mr Grosse paraphrases those notes as “It clearly says to me that he is Aboriginal, as a result of heavy drinking his conditions has developed. He’s unlikely to survive, therefore not sure really if any action is needed, that’s the message essentially in his notes”.
When I posted the report on Twitter (@MartinGHodgson) many people exclaimed they were shocked that the hospital staff didn’t know who Gurrumul was. A fair point, how did they not Recognise a multi award winning artist, the 2009 Northern Territory Australian of the Year and one of the most famous Indigenous Australians in the land. The reason they did not Recognise even the most famous of Indigenous faces that nearly left Gurrumul to die is the very reason that Ms Dhu, Mr Ward, TJ Hickey, Mulrunji and many hundreds if not thousands of others around the country have died. Their humanity was not Recognised. Let me say that quite clearly again, the humanity of all Indigenous Australians is not Recognised. Even the most famous Indigenous people can be seen but their humanity totally denied.
I’ve argued this in the past, in relation to the NT Intervention, Black Deaths in Custody, The Stolen Generation, Justice for Bowraville, the systematic removal of Indigenous children from perfectly healthy family environments and on it goes. But here we have the most clear example, or at least the most glaringly obvious one that no matter how successful you may be as an Indigenous person the State still does not see your humanity. Let’s cut the shit for just one moment, because the truth is a bitter pill to swallow. Gurrumul is pretty bloody recognisable, he’s clearly blind, he’s face has been on television a million times and the hospital paper work said Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. Yet we are told, with a straight face by Professor Arya that all is ok. The truth he could have stated, that would have been despicable but at least accurate is that despite an A&E filled with university educated people, a clearly recognisable man and with his fucking name on a piece of paper for god sake, that these employees of the State saw a drank black first and that’s it.
Not a man in need, not a patient to care for, not a human being suffering and not Gurrumul. So what hope has any Indigenous Man, Woman or Child have of being RECOGNISED in any way, when the humanity of all Indigenous People is not seen. Forget Closing the Gap, forget reducing incarceration rates or improving health outcomes, forget equal life expectancy and absolutely forget any true Recognition in the Constitution. Because Indigenous Australians may no longer be counted in the flora and fauna, but Human… that’s still yet to come.
Perhaps when you accept meeting at the table, as equals, with a Treaty presented for you to accept and not an offer to simply Recognise, like the way you “tolerate” but don’t embrace, then humanity will be acknowledged and finally Gurrumul and every other Indigenous Australian will not be left to die, because their value as a human beings will begin to be equal to yours and every other Non-Indigenous person in this country.
Colleen Walker-Craig, Evelyn Greenup and Clinton Speedy-Duroux were brutally murdered by a man who walks free to this day. He is one of the worst serial killers of children in the history of the state of NSW. The belief in his guilt is shared by the families of his victims, senior police, senior politicians from all sides of politics, the media and many in the general public.
These murders took place between September 1990 to February 1991 at the time Colleen was 16, Clinton was 16 and snatched in the night from her bed, Little Evelyn was 4 years of age. One man was the last person to be seen with all three victims, he was charged with the murder of Clinton and while awaiting trial was charged with the murder of Little Evelyn. This should have been made known to the court, it wasn’t. This man was acquitted of the murder of Clinton, the prosecution of him for the murder of Little Evelyn never went ahead. Ask yourself this, why did the court not hear that he had been charged with the second of the three murders and was the prime suspect in the first when he was on trial for killing Clinton? If you were a juror, would this not be vital information to know?
After his aquittal in 1994, In 1997, the former New South Wales Police Commissioner Peter Ryan set up Task Force Ancud, to continue the investigation into the unsolved murders. In February 2004, an inquest was held into the murders, and as a result (The Man) was charged again, this time for the murder of Evelyn Greenup. The court heard that he has confessed, not once, but twice! He was acquitted again a month later. Let me say that again, the court heard he had confessed twice to the killing of a 4 year old. He was acquitted.
On 6th November 2014 a Parliamentary Inquiry agitated for admirably by a Greens MLC, Chaired by a Liberal MLC with members also from the ALP and Nationals, concluded that “New South Wales legislation should be reviewed to pave the way for a new trial for the murder of three children” The Committee for Law and Justice also called for changes to allow a court to consider all three deaths at once, after previous separate trials failed to lead to a conviction. Committee chairman David Clarke said “The key to this elusive justice being obtained is the hearing of the evidence in all three murders being considered at the same time and in the same court.”
Greens MP David Shoebridge, who initiated the inquiry, said the Bowraville community had waited more than 20 years to be heard.”It was the sense that they had been ignored, that they’d been treated as second-rate citizens,” he said. “That the loss of their children was not valued by the police, and the courts, and the Parliament, in the way that the loss of any other three children would be valued.” Shooters and Fishers MP Robert Brown said Parliament had an obligation to the families and the community to act before it adjourned in two weeks.”I say to the family and the community – I’m proud. You stuck to the trail,” he said.”There’s a challenge for both houses of Parliament. They [the families] have held to the trail for 25 years. Let’s do it in the next two weeks.”
That was in November 2014. Fast forward more than a year, Premier Baird who had promised to have his Government consider the findings had still given the families no answer! Last week, after months of delays, a promised meeting with the Attorney General was cancelled via text message and just a week before Christmas the AG Gabrielle Upton, of the NSW Baird Government sent a messenger to meet with the families who have waited 25 years for justice. Despite all the evidence, the support of the police, the multi-party parliamentary inquiry and the media investigations that all came to the same conclusion, the Baird government WOULD NOT change the law to allow the killer to be tried for all three murders.
“The NSW government has shown little to no regard for the trauma and pain our families have lived with for more than two decades; we ask where the outcry is for justice from the media and the public? Why is it that only white victims of such a despicable crime in this country receive any level of justice? We want answers and we want them now!” – Karla McGrady, Clinton Speedy-Duroux’s cousin.
If you know this case you know that my assertions of guilt are not frivolous, when do you ever get the Greens, Fishers and Shooters, ALP, LNP, Police, Community and Media all on the same side? So why is the Baird Government allowing this serial killer of children to walk free, why has he walked free for 25 years, why are these children’s lives not valued, why is the families right to justice not valued, where is the humanity in any of this?
I will tell you the answer and it can be found in the only thing I have left out so far. The three children, murder by blunt force trauma, dumped in the bush, no doubt in terrifying fear that you cannot imagine, Little Evelyn snatched from her bed at just four years old… they were all Aboriginal.
They are still Aboriginal, so are their families, their community and a small group of incredible people who have fought for 25 years for justice. Two and a half decades, they have presented the facts, they have worked with the police, they have been stoic and determined, they have not given up, they have given media interviews, given testimony to parliament and courts, they have rallied and raised awareness, they have fought and fought and fought and yet the murder of their children, three beautiful Black children goes unpunished.
Now you tell me truthfully, if three non-Indigenous children were brutally killed, by one serial killer, 25 years ago, with all the evidence and inquiries… would he still walk free? You know the answer is no! This is not about just Black and White, after the Sydney Siege in which an extremist took hostages and two innocent lives were lost the hashtag #illridewithyou offered solidarity with Sydney’s Muslims after the siege.
Well, three Aboriginal children are dead… WHERE IS YOUR OFFER TO RIDE WITH THEIR FAMILIES… it has never come! Despite endless newspaper reports, special presentations on ABC and Channels Nines 60Minutes, one of the most watched TV shows in Australia. Where is the hashtag, where is all this outrage we see so much of in 2015 that breaks out every single day over often trivial matters? Where is your concern?
These are questions you must ask yourself and that you must reconcile. But a hashtag will not deliver justice, because this is about the serial murder of three children. This is not some trivial outrage that gets people frothing online, this is about lives and family and community and this countries inability to EVER deliver justice to its First Nations Peoples even when their babies are killed by a NON-INDIGENOUS man.
There are 24hours, less, until Christmas day. Premier Mike Baird now stands as the one man who can make the right decision and begin the process of justice, a changing of the law and the trial of the man who I accuse of murdering all three of these beautiful, precious, Aboriginal Children. Mr Baird, you have no excuse! If you do not act you are a culpable party, if the media doesn’t report this they are culpable parties and if you do not agitate for this… You know the answer to that.
If Justice is not served here, the answer to “Is Australia racist?” does not need your input or your answer. I write this because I believe it is the truth and respectfully, I believe Premier Baird MUST act. Dr Martin Luther King Jnr famously said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Well anywhere is the small town of Bowraville in NSW, everywhere is Australia. Just for once can we do what is right for an Aboriginal community and their Children? I will let the next few days decide that, but I will never be silent until justice is done!
In 2015 in appears you can still call Aboriginal women animals and barely raise an eyebrow.
“Look, a lot of poor women in this country, a large proportion of whom are Aboriginal, are used as Cash cows, right” Mr Johns said. “They are kept pregnant and producing children for the cash. Now, that has to stop.”
Were these comments backed up with facts? No, Plucked straight from the Encyclopaedia Moronica! That’s one of the great benefits of being a bigoted loud mouth, your only source need be your pea sized brain! But enough with the insults…, well actually, no. Because insults are exactly what the likes of Johns, Bolt and Alan Jones trade in. These are the people who are found by courts to be racists, stand behind “Ditch the Witch” signs and ponder out loud as to whether female Prime Ministers should be forcibly drowned. So it is with no surprise that on Andrew “contravener of the Racial Discrimination Act” Bolt’s TV show that serial spruiker of stupid ideas Gary Johns compared Aboriginal women to cows…, cattle…, animals.
And in all the coverage the media gave these despicable comments nowhere did a single journalist challenge the fact that comparing Aboriginal women to animals was disgusting and bigoted. No, while everyone else’s dear Mum is a protected species; Aboriginal mothers are fair game for a quick back hander on Sunday TV. As if somehow justifying this assault was the stats quoted on the program, the utterly appalling fact, that Aboriginal Housing Victoria statistics “showed Aboriginal women were 34 times more likely to suffer domestic violence than non-indigenous women” a group of women Johns cares about so deeply he only moments earlier had called cows. See you cannot have it both ways; you cannot use your words to wrench away the humanity of an entire populace and then pretend to care about their humanity. It’s this culture that allows Aboriginal women to be called animals that also turns a blind eye to the fact that these same women are 11 times more likely to die at the hands of their partners.
This of course in no way excuses the men who either abuse or murder their partners, these men should be reported to the police, prosecuted and dealt with by the full force of the law. The nod and wink here amongst these conservative commentators is that these men are Aboriginal (Note for the slow, not every Aboriginal man/woman is partnered to another Aboriginal person), so really what Gary is saying is that cast aside your barbarian black men for a less violent fella like his good self for a life of being treated like…, an animal. This circular stupidity ignores the fact that violence against women does not happen in a vacuum, it happens in a society that labels women as being like animals and talks about throwing them overboard in a chaff bag.
But what is also not discussed is that the number one reason Aboriginal women give for not reporting violence against them is fear of having their children taken away. You’d have to have failed year seven history to not know where this fear might stem from, in fact you only have to pick up a newspaper. Removal of Aboriginal children from their families is at an all-time high, but lucky for Mr Johns he was on the show of one Andrew Bolt, who is neither sorry that the Stolen Generation ever took place nor even willing to admit it happened.
And as many First Nations peoples have pointed out today in response to Mr Johns, one of the reasons Aboriginal women don’t call the police is because of the fact Australia has a 200 year history of police imprisoning at ridiculous rates, killing and assaulting Aboriginal Men, Women and Children. The solution to this gigantic mess is offered up by the political wing of this conservative madness; Cut funding to Aboriginal legal and other vital services at the federal level and to cut funds to domestic violence support services at the state level. And you wonder why Aboriginal women have second thoughts about calling the police and question if you really care about them? How fucking dare you!
This from the man that once proposed welfare recipients be given “reversible contraception” but is somehow also a supporter of small government. If anything says big government it’s the systematic sterilisation of an entire group of women…. Sorry, “reversible” of course. But let’s not stray too far into the sick mind of Mr Johns and just stick with the comments in question. In addition to being cash cows, he claims “They are kept pregnant and producing children for the cash.” This is what you might say about a Broodmare when passing the stables, not something you say on national television about human beings. But again, not a single reporter saw fit to denigrate Mr Johns’ comments, let alone challenge them.
And we are supposed to sit back and take it. Just ignore it all… your Mum is a cow, your Dad’s an abuser, at least one of them should be sterilised and that is just all fine and dandy. Well no, it fucking isn’t! But let me guess, you’re questioning right now whether I should have said the F word in making my point instead of focussing your attention on the real words that cause harm, those of Mr Johns and his friends like Bolt.
But that’s the problem in Australia 2015, you can go on television and call Beautiful Black women across this nation anything you like, you can accuse all Aboriginal men of being violent pimps for welfare cheques…, but call a simpleton like Gary Johns a fuckwit and you’re the crazy one and no newspaper will agree to publish your article unless you remove the offensive words. Oh, not the derogatory racist bile, no that’s fine, it’s the four letter words that really worry the editors. And with priorities as messed up as that is it any wonder that Governments can cut vital funding to services that would save the life of the next Aboriginal woman who will die at the hands of her criminal partner in a system that threw them overboard a long time ago… so much so that neither their murder nor their diminishment to mere cattle caught your attention, but my language… yeah that’s the offensive bit in all this.
You never give up hope, you can never stop fighting, but for the lawyers and advocates of Andrew and Myu the cards left to play are now all but out. Only one man has the ability to save them from being shot to death on a small island and he is the Prime Minister of Australia. It would mean adopting the actions of the very country he has to convince, Indonesia. Who forcibly lobby, send large influential delegations and even pay millions of dollars to ensure their own citizens are not executed in other countries.
In 2014 Indonesia paid $2.1milllion to buy the clemency of Satinah Binti Jumadi Ahmad who had been sentenced to death for the murder of her employer’s wife and theft of the couple’s money. Indonesia also spent millions buying the clemency of some 44 other Indonesian citizens from various countries in the same year who had been convicted to die around the world. Currently the Jokowi Administration is lobbying Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran and Qatar for the same reprieve for Indonesians currently housed in the death rows of those countries. Yet for the unequivocal stand Indonesia takes against capital punishment for its own citizens it refuses to show any mercy to foreigners in its jails. Already this year five foreign nationals have been put to death by firing squads, not for murder or terrorism or crimes against children but for drug offences.
Now Tony Abbott must do the same and drop the well-worn line that Australia doesn’t interfere in the legal systems of other nations. Just like Indonesia and every other country we can and do interfere all the time when it suits our needs. But we also must do it to uphold the great notion of a fair go and our obligations to International Law. In fact Abbott’s political hero, John Howard, once diverted his plane on way to Nigeria to the Maldives to make the case for an Australian citizen serving a life sentence for drug offences. Five days after the then PM’s visit Australian Mark Scanlon was released and on his way back to Australia.
We must intervene because this is about human life, this is not a trade deal gone wrong, a disagreement over diplomatic relations with a third nation or a vote at the UN. This is about the life of two young Australian’s who only wish to serve the rest of their lives in prison, not die! There is no deterrent factor when it comes to the death penalty; study after study has failed to show any such link. Although some studies show in fact that in jurisdictions with the death penalty crime is in fact worse and more rampant. The idea of “fairness” in the Indonesian justice system is also open to great question when not only are their own drug traffickers lobbied for but the man behind the Bali Bombings that killed 202 people only receiving 2 ½ years behind bars.
Then we must question what does killing these two men actually achieve other than the political goals of Jokowi? There is no deterrent, they’ve served ten years and will serve many more even if clemency is granted and they have lived this last decade always wondering if today will be their last. Is that not punishment enough? Yet despite this there is no doubt at all that both Andrew and Myu are reformed men and acknowledge their past misdeeds. They prove this not in their words but actions, Myu has become a wonderful artist and mentor inside the prison, Andrew provides religious counsel to his fellow inmates and together they have guided many young Indonesians to a better life upon release.
They could continue to do this for years to come, they want to, but for a crime that would have seen them receive some years here in Australia, committed at a young age, they will pay with their lives. And do you really believe that then just in their very early twenties these two young men were the masterminds of the plot to import drugs to Australia? Of course not, somewhere in Australia lives a man or men, known to law enforcement who has profited for years from this very trade. This person has many victims on his hands; From those whom have been addicted and consumed his product and the many young people whom have sold his powder in very real fear for their lives if they didn’t. Only someone completely ignorant of the facts and the basics of the world of narcotics trafficking would believe that two boys just out of school could mastermind such an International plot.
Perhaps this is something the AFP might have considered when they sold nine young Australian’s out to the death row of Bali when they tipped the Indonesian’s off. Not only did they condemn them to the fate that now awaits, they lost the opportunity to gather valuable intelligence from the nine on just who this Mr Big is and the evidence that could have convicted him. For their part the AFP will have blood on their hands and also the communities’ knowledge that for the last decade more drugs have hit Australia’s street because of this failing.
And so now all things must be on the table and Prime Minister Abbott must call Jakarta or even better make a visit like John Howard did in 2002 and not leave until Death is off the table. For all their faults internationally and domestically, for all the same hypocrisies America shows on the issue of Capital Punishment as Indonesia now does, only six American’s have been executed by other states since 1860. Killing our citizens must have consequences, from the weaker measures such as recalling Ambassadors and calling in Indonesia’s man in Canberra to tougher measures like trade sanctions and the suspension of aid, nothing is too big when it comes to the saving of human life. Why have a government at all if they cannot protect the people who vote them in, even those who commit crimes. How we protect the “least” amongst us says a lot about who we are as a people.
Lawyers, Advocates, Families, Friends and those in the community who care have done their best. The carrot has been offered over and over again to the Indonesian judicial system and Government that yes these men must pay a price but not the price of their lives. Now the only man who carries the stick must do so to defend life and ensure that not only are Andrew and Myu not killed, but don’t have to live what will be a difficult life behind bars with the thought of execution hanging over their heads.
Otherwise, two young men, who made a god awful mistake, a criminal one yes, but who have reformed their lives…. Will be taken from their cells at midnight to the beach or into an opening in the jungle on the small island of Nusakambangan. They will be blindfolded as they are marched to their final destination. Stand if you can, but most cannot, so they sit or kneel as they wait and wait, unable to see what goes on. What is happening is 12 soldiers are assembled and will fire on command at the chest of the men destroying their bodies. If, as sometimes happens, they do not die from these shots, The commanding officer will draw his sidearm and execute the still breathing men at point blank range.
This is not justice, this is murder… and for what?! Prime Minister Tony Abbott, you were elected to serve all Australian’s, to uphold our laws (Domestic and International) and do whatever it takes to defend the lives of our citizens, because all of us make up this community we call home. Fight for liberty, fight for life, because in the end, what else is worth fighting for?
The Empowerment of women through education and the emancipation of women from imposed poverty and servitude is the greatest thing we can do to uplift the world!
Anita is a 20 year old passionate young woman from the outer suburbs of Cali, Colombia (One of the poorest places in South America). Her smile lights up the room but it hides her daily struggles that the rest of us could never imagine. All she wants in life is a chance, just one chance, some hope!
Anita was born with Spina Bifida, a Latin term for ‘split spine’, It is one of a class of serious birth defects called neural tube defects (NTD). At 3 days of age Anita had her first of many operations. She has never walked, she was born with one Kidney, suffers serious Scoliosis and has both Bowel and Urinary incontinence. She relies on a broken wheelchair that is too small and was donated to her more than ten years ago.
Anita was born and lives in a very small home in the outer suburbs of Cali, Colombia. She is a long way from any medical care and Colombia provides no Government care for those with a disability. To visit the doctor requires her Mother to take a whole day off work and find someone willing to drive them to the city where Anita can access basic medical services. These difficulties have resulted in many medical complications, infections and trauma for Anita and her Family. Click here to see a report into the daily struggles of the disabled in Colombia
Because with your support Anita wants to grab life with both hands, gain an education, be able to attend Universidad del Valle Cali (Whom we are negotiating with right now) and free herself from the cycle of poverty and those abandoned because of their disability. When Anita’s Mum passes she will be left on her own, with no Government support, no medical care and nowhere to turn. But Anita will go through the pain each day to take the long drive to University, she will study her heart out and she never gives up. She desperately wants to break the cycle of impoverishment and servitude that grips the life of Colombia’s disabled by gaining an education and independence. All we need from you is a little money to change this one precious life forever!
“BALI Nine smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran don’t deserve our sympathy; they deserve a bullet.”
These are not the words of a blood thirsty fanatic whipping up anti Australian rhetoric in Indonesia or an Indonesian politician using “tough on crime” politics to win an election, this is the dangerous and disturbing byline to an “Opinion” piece written by News Ltd Columnist and ACA Journalist Caroline Marcus.
Upon posting what is either clickbait or one of the most factually inaccurate pieces of journalism ever written (No, I’m not joking) Marcus received praise on social media from those who seem to have a limited understanding of…, well anything and severe condemnation from experts in the field of the law, drug crime and international relations. All the expert advice was ignored, dismissed or ridiculed while those begging for that bullet to be fired were kindly thanked and often their praise retweeted.
But let’s put opinion aside and get to the facts, picking apart Caroline’s article one inaccurate statement at a time. Marcus first argues that not only do these two men deserve to be shot by multiple gunmen in the Bali jungle until they are dead, either from the initial barrage of bullets or if they are still breathing from the sidearm of the commanding officer, she insists Australia has not right to meddle in the actions of another state. WRONG. That’s not how International diplomacy works, nor is it the actions required of a state like Australia that has ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the many other International law instruments that forbid cruel and unusual punishment.
Marcus then argues that Abbott is “right to say he will not put our relationship with one of its closest neighbours in “jeopardy” over this issue.” Again, this is not how International policy works, (I have a Masters in the subject, my thesis was the Death penalty… Caroline yours on this subject is what?). One could argue that the sentencing of Abu Bakar Bashir to just 2 and 1/2 years for his role in the Bali Bombings that killed 202 people including 88 Australians was an example of the Indonesian system putting the relationship with Australia in “Jeopardy”. But despite that appallingly inadequate sentence relations have not been impacted by that judgement. Just as they wouldn’t be as Marcus suggests if the two Australians were to serve life in prison instead of being killed by bullets.
Then we are treated to Caroline’s opinion on the role of the police, apparently it is to exclusively fight crime, not to protect and serve. I guess that leaves the gang at Police Rescue out of a job or those officers tasked with protecting vulnerable peoples and locations also searching the classifieds for new work. This again is Marcus using high school debating methods to solve a very complex and now probably deadly International incident.
Then we move to the worst part of it all. “My own stance on capital punishment has been informed by the successful zero-tolerance approach of Singapore – one of 40 countries that still use capital punishment – where I enjoyed an idyllic childhood in a virtually drug and hard crime-free environment.” Other countries to practice the death penalty are of course Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, The USA, China and of course the newly established Islamic State. Is Caroline suggesting this list of nations has the best of methods for combating crime?
Caroline is not informed on this complex matter by years of study, peer reviewed research or decades in the field but from her childhood memories of heroin free primary school and the fresh smell of posies served with her morning addition of the Government controlled newspaper. Singapore after all has a shocking human rights record, from slave labour, to hardline government censorship of the press (Caroline aren’t you a journalist who likes to publish your own opinion) to the outlawing of homosexual acts and the trafficking of women for sex. This place of her idyllic childhood is not some bastion of all that is good in the world as she claims it to be.
But on drugs and the death penalty she is quick to quote a politician, known for their truth on figures “In 2012, seven years after the country hung Australian drug trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, said the death penalty was a proven deterrent against drug crime in the country.” WRONG
Well my mistake, case closed, a politician says his policy works so I guess it must be true and Caroline is right after all. Except for the fact that no peer reviewed paper has ever shown a link between the death penalty and the reduction of the drug trade. But given Marcus has refused to answer my questions on this very issue let us return back to Singapore where all is great for some answers. In the latest figures available Singapore’s own Central Narcotics Bureau has outlined a sharp increase in drug trafficking in the country, which follows earlier figures from the years 2011/2012 that showed a 14 percent increase in that period. So clearly we should not be relying on Caroline’s memory of her idyllic childhood to decide the lives of two human beings when that very country is going backwards on the issue.
Finally Marcus uses the last of her column inches to subtly discuss the serious issue of drug abuse in Australia, before returning us back to the issue of the death penalty. Perhaps she’s hoping the next federal election will bring about a discussion on the reintroduction of capital punishment to Australia. But let’s turn to a cop who has worked one of the toughest beats in the world and had the death penalty at his disposal for his war on drugs.
“I … know that in practice, [the death penalty] does more harm than good. So while I hang on to my theoretical views, as I’m sure many of you will, I stand before you to say that society is better off without capital punishment… Life in prison without parole in a maximum-security detention facility is a better alternative.”
–Police Chief James Abbott of West Orange, New Jersey
Or the Global Commission on Drug Policy in 2011, who state “the majority of arrests are of “low-ranking ‘little fish’ in the drug market” who are “most visible and easy to catch, and do not have the means to pay their way out of trouble.”
So ignoring all the evidence of experts in the field, law enforcement both here (She had a dig at former AFP Comm. for testifying on behalf of Scott Rush) and overseas, the statistics from the exact country she claims to have seen capital punishment work that show quite clearly it doesn’t and the advocating of cruel and unusual punishment; Caroline Marcus believes two Australian’s should be executed by multiple gun shots (ISIS Style) until they are dead instead of serving the rest of their lives in prison. An alternative that is not only far more humane, just and ethical but also one shown to actual discourage the trade in the very drugs she so despises.
But then there is something Marcus hasn’t considered, an issue I am well aware of having worked many capital cases around the world. Right now the Indonesian Government will be monitoring the Australian media and the reaction to articles like Caroline’s to see what the fall out might be if they murder two of our citizens… for that Marcus has put a nail in the coffin of both Myuran Sukamaran and Andrew Chan. Nobody is saying they are good boys who should be sent home. They committed a terrible crime and must spend many years in jail. But anyone who knows them, has visited them (including criminologists) has seen their reform. But for Marcus that is not enough, she wants to hear that gun fire ring out and the bullet to explode their hearts until two more people are dead on this planet with absolutely nothing to show for it accept some warped sense that ignorant fools with some column space to fill will get a pat on their back from their editor and probably a nice welcome next time they arrive in Singapore.
If Andrew and Myu are killed by a firing squad (Apparently we are in the 21st century, at least according to the calender) Marcus will no doubt take to twitter with some smug remark. Because in the safe little bubble she live in the world is for passing judgement on sans facts and the cruel state sanction murder of two human beings is just another Sunday column. It kind of makes you feel sick…
On August 23rd 1963 some 250,000 people marched from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, where the crowd was addressed by Civil Rights Leaders and sung to by Music royalty. You will probably know this event as the March on Washington or the day Martin Luther King Jr delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, an event he organised. Some of this is true, you know it because it is what you have been told and what you have read. But it is by no means the whole truth and perhaps in this distortion of history we can see parallels in our own civil rights struggles, who really leads them and just exactly what are they about.
To begin with it is important to know the March was in fact titled, March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The marches knew what they wanted, they made it clear and they had a list of demands. Dr King did not organise the march, nor was his speech some divinely inspired piece of oratory as delivered in sermons, he too had made clear before hand his demands and it had nothing to do with making people feel good. This was no Kumbaya collective that popped into existence a few days before, it was organised decades in advance, it was organised by an Athiest not a Reverend and the marches weren’t just there to hold hands, but to get paid! This may sit as equally uncomfortably with many in the social justice community as it does with conservatives, hippies and the religious but these are points of history that not only cannot be denied, they were made crystal clear by those who lead the March and should come as a very clear warning to those who follow modern day civil rights movements and think everything is the way that it is reported.
What many may not be aware is that Dr King, an invited speaker on the day by actual organisers, A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin who read a list of demands to close the event, had already delivered his I Have A Dream Speech many times over. Again, this was not some divinely inspired moment of oratory brilliance, this was a well rehearsed speech that was designed to rally crowds around the central themes of economic justice, social inclusion and an end to life as second class “citizens”. But in case you don’t believe me, in case like many you would rather believe he was all inspiring and not about substance, when in fact his real substance was lifting people out of poverty, about distributing wealth back into he hands of the Black community…., perhaps you should listen to the words of the man himself.
Did you hear that, maybe you need to listen to it again, maybe we all need to listen to it again. Dr King knew very well that rights alone were not much good without the currency of a society that functions almost purely on capital. Food, housing, transport, health, education… without that cheque, what is the use of rights! Then add to that the almost entire lack of political representation, the ever expanding shifting of the Black population from the slave fields to the prison cells and a society that treats you with suspicion, contempt and often open hostility. Is it any wonder Dr King’s message extended beyond that of just a dream and why the organisers of the March on Washington called for jobs and read a list of demands, not aspirations, demands!
Now fast forward to Australia 2014, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are still the most discriminated against, still the most imprisoned, the poorest, the lowest life expectancy, the most unemployed, the highest infant mortality rates and the highest levels of preventable diseases in the land. But if you take your cues from the Mainstream media, politicians and yes, many of the same people who quote out of context Dr King you’d be forgiven for thinking that the “dream” that will free the First Nations people of this land is the Recognise campaign. You’d also be forgiven for thinking that this is a campaign almost universally supported by Aboriginal people. This is simply not the case, as with the March on Washington, Black folk in Australia are far more political astute than has ever been credited. Read for example the reporting of Amy McQuire from New Matilda, just one example of her work shows what is really going on out in the nation https://newmatilda.com/2014/08/19/fresh-push-treaty-emerges-shadow-recognise-campaign
McQuire – “Recognise is a campaign championed first and foremost by white politicians, and I would argue, largely derided by Aboriginal people themselves. As an Aboriginal journalist, I have met very few Aboriginal people supportive of the campaign. Sure, there are some out there – not all Aboriginal people think the same – but I would hazard a guess that a large percentage of the pretty PR pictures propped up by government cash do not resonate with most blackfellas”
Then of course we must dig deeper again and find the issues that almost universally unites the First Nations peoples of this land…. Land Rights, Sovereignty, Treaty! You will notice I very deliberately did not refer to Native Title “the recognition by Australian law that some Indigenous people have rights and interests to their land that come from their traditional laws and customs”. Because there is that word again, Recognition, Recognise. Simply recognising that the First People of this land were indeed the First People of this land does very little to effectively address the horrendous circumstances of discrimination and disadvantage. It does not put food on the table, deliver health and education services, free men and women from prison or end the wholesale looting of Aboriginal land by mining companies and large corporations.
So let us return to the March on Washington. Where once the Black men and women of America were slaves brutalised and killed and forced to work for no wage their first demand, their primary demand was spelled out in the very name of their March. They wanted jobs, jobs that as Dr King said far more importantly than a dream, was to be paid a CHEQUE! Just like the the United States where farmers, land owners and mining companies had been given Government hand outs, here too Mining companies pay almost no tax, a hundred years of farm subsidies have been paid and yet it is Aboriginal people who are on welfare? And where the First Nations once had Sovereignty of their own lands on this continent called Australia now the call, as it always has, echoes around communities. Not to be recognised in a legal document but to have full control, including legal, cultural and economic of the lands that nurtured it’s peoples for tens of thousands of years. So as you quote Dr King I urge you to dig a little deeper into his words and discover the real dream of equality. And as you wear a shirt for Recognition I urge you to listen to the voices of thousands of Aboriginal people who will tell the cheque they are coming to cash is not one that acknowledges the basic truth of history that this land was stolen, but that it is time for true land rights and a treaty.
Until then the cheques that simply seek to “recognise” will be returned, a “cheque which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds”!
A Missouri grand jury has decided Darren Wilson, a white police officer who fatally shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in August, will not be charged.
The rest you know.
The police have yet again either killed a black man or allowed a non black man who did the killing to go free. What is statistically strange about today’s decision is this – According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them. Grand Juries are a rubber stamp, Former New York state Chief Judge Sol Wachtler famously remarked that a prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich.” That is of course unless the Grand Jury is deciding to indict a police officer, rarely does it even get to that stage, then the police officer almost always flips the statistics on their head and faces no charges.
Now there is absolutely no point in me adding anything else, millions of column inches, radio reports and TV news stories will cover all the gory details. From the killing of Michael Brown, to the following riots, the travesty of justice and who knows what will happen next. Black child Ivins Rosier a 17 year old boy received 23 years in jail having been tried as an adult for killing a retired police dog. While the killers of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown have walked free after shooting dead unarmed black boys.
In Australia… cue the outrage!
This would be perfectly acceptable, mandatory, inspiring even that from all this distance away thousands of Australian’s have taken to social media to express solidarity with Ferguson and disgust with the US justice system. But while Australian’s line up for this noble cause they are deafly silent as to the Black Deaths in Custody that occur right under their noses, right here, under another Red, White and Blue flag, in the United States of Australia.
Tell me Australia, about the time you took to social media in your thousands and exploded with anger at the death of Mr Briscoe (Pictured above) at the hands of Police in Alice Springs. You can see if you wish reporting on this website, that highlighted the case, that showed Mr Briscoe slowly dying in a cell, that showed his head being smashed into a wall and which showed his blood being casually cleaned up with an officers foot.
Or you can read about Ms Dhu, dead at the hands of police in WA while in custody for a few unpaid fines. Who begged and pleaded to see a doctor, yet died an agonising and needless death. Also from WA you can read about Mr Ward an Aboriginal elder from the Ngaanyatjarra lands in Western Australia, who having been driven a total of 922km in a boiling hot prison van literally cooked to death. He was a artist, a lands right activist who visited China as part of a delegation, a skilled hunter, an interrupter and assisted scientists in conservation. He’s dead at the hands of the justice system for a crime he was alleged to have committed that would have resulted in no more than a fine.
In NSW young TJ Hickey was chased by police to his death and died impaled on a fence. Witnesses believe his bike was clipped by a police car, police say otherwise. No action was taken. In Queensland on Palm Island, Mulrunji would become the 147th Aboriginal person to die in police custody in just 14 years. They were the 14 years that had followed the Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody. Mulrunji had been arrested for causing a public nuisance, allegedly, but died a short time later when his liver and spleen were ruptured in two at the hands of police. Back in WA Aboriginal man Marlon Noble served 10 years for a crime he didn’t commit, in fact he never even faced trial, he was simply held, imprisoned and warehoused like perished goods.
There are countless other cases, by countless I mean hundreds in the last 30 years, each and every time the Aboriginal community fight for justice. Each and every time communities are left without justice at the hands of the justice system.
These incidents didn’t happen in Compton or Atlanta, in NYC or the Southside of Chicago. They didn’t happen in rural Texas, inner city Memphis or in the backwaters of Georgia and they certainly didn’t happen in Ferguson.
They happened in your country, in your state, in your city and under your version of a flag wearing Red, White and Blue. The officers here, like the officer from Ferguson have never faced Justice. The Black community here, like the Black community there have begged, pleaded, lobbied and advocated for Justice. Both communities have been failed.
So why haven’t the cases that happened under your nose received anywhere near the attention? Why isn’t Ms Dhu “Trending” like Ferguson is right here in Australia. Why aren’t there thousands of angry and appalled Australians taking to social media calling for Justice for OUR BLACK DEAD…
…. Well that’s on you!