Salo Aizenberg
Salo Aizenberg

Human Rights Watch: Australia, Like Israel, is Guilty of Apartheid

Captain Cook Landing at Botany Bay

The title of this article is a teaser. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has not labelled Australia  guilty of apartheid. I also do not believe that Israel is remotely guilty of apartheid. However, based on the criteria that HRW outlined in its recent report stating the Israel is guilty of crimes of apartheid, there is no doubt that Australia is an apartheid state. HRW’s charge against Israel is based on a newly invented definition of apartheid and a deeply flawed analysis of the conflict that willfully ignores vast evidence that contradicts their thesis. The purpose of this article is not to provide a direct rebuttal which has been handled well elsewhere[1] but to demonstrate the absurdity of HRW’s charge against Israel by demonstrating that the same criteria applied equally to other nations – in this case Australia – would show that many, and not just dictatorships, would also have to be considered apartheid, rendering their report against Israel as grossly biased garbage solely intended to isolate and punish Israel.

An April 2021 report issued by Human Rights Watch (HRW) titled “A Threshold Crossed, Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution” concluded that Israel commits crimes of apartheid, both within Israel and the West Bank & Gaza, a charge that is eagerly endorsed by anti-Zionists and those who loathe Israel.[2] The report suggests aggressive international sanctions against Israel and its officials for these alleged crimes. The misuse of the word apartheid and the inflammatory language against Israel has infiltrated the conversation where even a poll of American Jews showed a higher than expected number believe that Israel is an apartheid state.

The only country in history that has been universally recognized as an apartheid state is South Africa, where this Afrikaans term originated, and no other nation except Israel has ever been similarly labelled by recognized organizations. In order to formally apply this term to Israel, HRW unilaterally developed a new set of criteria to assess what constitutes apartheid. These criteria are of course completely subjective, decided upon solely by HRW, flagrantly contradicts international law that clearly defines apartheid, and importantly, have never been used before to evaluate any other nation.

HRW deliberately avoids comparing Israel to South Africa, which would be the most obvious method to evaluate if a nation is currently apartheid. HRW deals with this logical flaw by claiming that South Africa is conveniently no longer the model for apartheid: “The international community has over the years detached the term apartheid from its original South African context.” HRW does not explain how or when this “detachment” from the South African precedent of apartheid occurred, who comprises the “international community,” or why this new definition emerged but was never used to examine another state. In a report that HRW touts as extensively researched with over 800 footnotes, not one source is provided for the supposed shedding by the international community of the South African precedent for apartheid. In fact, a key source that HRW relies upon to support its definition of apartheid, the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (the “Apartheid Convention”), specifically states that the crime of apartheid “shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practised in southern Africa.” HRW admits that “Few courts have heard cases involving the crime of persecution and none the crime of apartheid, resulting in a lack of case law around the meanings of key terms in their definitions,” but still decides that the only know precedent enshrined in international law – South Africa – is not useful in evaluating Israel. To further obfuscate its strategy of ignoring established international legal language defining apartheid, HRW offers this vague explanation attempting to separate “crimes of apartheid” from “apartheid state” as if an entity could commit “crimes of apartheid” but somehow not be an “apartheid state”:

The report does not set out to compare Israel with South Africa under apartheid or to determine whether Israel is an “apartheid state”—a concept that is not defined in international law. Rather, the report assesses whether specific acts and policies carried out by Israeli authorities today amount in particular areas to the crimes of apartheid and persecution as defined under international law.

With the South African model removed, HRW’s next step is to define the new methodology to assess apartheid. But a second problem emerges — the legal definition of apartheid is specifically related to “one racial group over any other racial group” as enshrined in the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (“Rome Statute”) and the Apartheid Convention. Since HRW knows that race is not the factor behind the Israel/Palestine conflict, HRW further manipulates the definition of apartheid. HRW again unilaterally decides, with no precedent or references and against the clear language of international law, that apartheid is not limited only to race and can include factors such as national origin. In fact, persecution based on political, ethnic, national, cultural, religious or gender differences are separate crimes covered in international law that is specifically separate from apartheid. (If systematic gender discrimination was apartheid, this would mean dozens of nations are apartheid states — but they are not because apartheid is only limited to race).

With the South African precedent and definition of apartheid as racial both out of the way, HRW is now free to unilaterally redefine apartheid, and then only for the purpose of examining Israel to see if the Jewish state lines up to their new definition. How convenient! HRW narrows down apartheid to three key elements prominently highlighted in its report:

  1. An intent to maintain a system of domination by one racial group over another;
  2. Systematic oppression by one racial group over another; and
  3. One or more inhumane acts, as defined, carried out on a widespread or systematic basis pursuant to those policies.

There are no guidelines as to what constitutes a “system of domination by one racial group over another” or “systematic oppression” or “inhumane acts.” There are also no standard criteria to quantify how much racism or oppression is sufficient to rise to the level of apartheid. By deliberately assessing Israel in a vacuum HRW simply and unilaterally claims that Israel’s “wrongdoings” are of the type and at sufficient levels to qualify as apartheid. HRW will not: (1) compare Israel’s actions to South Africa, the clearest precedent for apartheid, to determine if the comparison is valid; (2) Compare Israel’s actions to other nations to determine if their magnitude are unusual and truly an indicator of “systematic oppression” and a “system of domination”; (3) Apply the three elements of the new meaning of apartheid to others nation to place Israel’s supposed “crimes” in context.

Given the seriousness of the apartheid charge, which calls for worldwide boycotts and sanctions against Israel and individual officials, it would have seemed important for HRW to show that its methodology is not biased. Of course, neither HRW nor any other group that accuses Israel of apartheid has or will ever do this. In fact, one of the hallmarks of anti-Israel discourse is the refusal to compare Israel to other nations or situations, often relying on the term “whataboutism” to deflect the fact that Israel is being assessed using blatant double standards. It is also notable that HRW issued a report on China’s crimes against humanity against Uighurs only a week prior to the report on Israel but refrained from calling China apartheid even though it easily meets the three criteria outlined above. Tellingly, HRW’s report on Israel calls for much harsher punishment against it than China. For example, HRW requests that the ICC investigate individual Israelis for their crimes, but does not suggest this for China. HRW recommends that “All States” impose a series of harsh penalties against Israel while the call against China is only “To Concerned Governments,” and generally suggests a much shorter and lighter set of proposed actions. Also revealing is the fact that in all of HRW’s country specific reports for at least the last three years, including on China, Syria, North Korea & Myanmar, there is no call for “All States” to take actions given their crimes or for an ICC investigation. HRW makes clear that it believes that Israel is the worst human rights violator on the planet deserving of the most severe punishment.

The purpose of this report is to perform what HRW will never do as they know it will demolish their effort to uniquely apply the apartheid label to Israel. The detailed analysis below will show that based on the criteria outlined by HRW and applying its methodology of evaluating and accusing Israel of apartheid, Australia cannot be anything but guilty of crimes of apartheid — and in fact much worse than the false accusations against Israel since in Australia it is entirely about race.

The next and lengthy section of this article simulates an HRW report on Australian apartheid with the same intensity and zeal as their report on Israel, and follows a similar format and polemical writing style. One could read the report on Israel side-by-side with the report on Australia below and see the symmetry. As one reads the evidence against Australia, the methods used to label a nation apartheid become clear:

  • Gather evidence of racism and amplify these cases as if they represent the entire nation and its core policies. Then categorize the racism as “systematic oppression.”
  • Do not compare actions or laws to similar ones in other nations to place the matter in context. For example, cite incarceration rates of Palestinian children as an example of systematic discrimination without providing similar statistics for other democracies. Or categorize a constitution or national law as racist without comparing to similar laws of other nations.
  • Gather numerous quotes from politicians, journalists and international observers and consider this evidence. Do not mention the context of many of these statements. Do not explain that the term “apartheid” is often used hyperbolically to call out inequalities or perceived injustices, such as “vaccine apartheid,” which was a term recently used by the head of the WHO to describe differences in vaccination rates.
  • Ignore all countervailing factors and the concept that inequalities are normal in all complex societies. When making accusation of apartheid, all inequalities are the result of systematic and deliberate actions.

These bullet points summarize some of the key elements of Australian apartheid:

  • White Europeans settler-colonialists permanently occupied the Australian continent beginning with their arrival in 1788 displacing and dispossessing indigenous Aboriginal people who had controlled 100% of the territory for tens of thousands of years.
  • White Australians, now comprising 97% of the population, have maintained domination of Aboriginal people. Aboriginal populations today are similar to those in 1788, evidencing ethnic cleansing.
  • Aborigines have no form of sovereignty or self rule despite a desire for some form of self-determination.
  • White Australians control the vast majority of the land by confiscating it from Aborigines. While the White dominated government has made attempts to return some portions of land, these gestures are mostly symbolic and only a small fraction has been returned. Native title is a weaker form of ownership that applies only to Aborigines and does not confer full control of the land, thereby cementing White domination.
  • The White Australian dominated government by law allows mining companies & ranchers to further confiscate Aboriginal lands & heritage sites for commercial purposes. This right is used invoked (many recent examples, such as by mining giant Rio Tinto), further maintaining White domination of the land and subordinating Aboriginal rights.
  • Ancient Aboriginal heritage sites are regularly confiscated for similar commercial purposes and most of these heritage sites have not been returned to full Aboriginal control. This ongoing suppression of Aboriginal culture is also supported by the laws of the White dominated government.
  • The Australian constitution does not even mention Aboriginal people, a stark erasure of the indigenous people and their culture and a clear example of systematic White domination enshrined in the governing national document. Aboriginal languages are not recognized in the constitution, another overt form of discrimination. According to Reconciliation Australia, a leading Australian based NGO, Australia is “the only country with a constitution that allows for discrimination against its Indigenous peoples based on their race.”
  • Clauses 25 and 51 of the Australian constitution allow the White dominant government to implement racist measures. As MP Linda Burney stated, “Section 51 of our national constitution does not implicitly allow racial discrimination, it explicitly condones it.”
  • The White Australian dominated government implements numerous racist measures, such as a policy of forced removal of Aboriginal children to state children’s services programs, which some Aboriginal communities have called a “second lost generation.”
  • Other institutionalized abuses at varying degrees in different areas are deliberately engineered to benefit the White Australian dominant group, such as access to valuable water rights. As Claire Coleman, an award-winning Aboriginal writer and poet wrote: “Australia is racist and happy for Indigenous people to suffer under a paternalistic, colonialist fist. Indigenous people are forced to accept conditions that no other Australian would tolerate.
  • Crimes against humanity include the highest incarceration rate of any minority group in the world that match those of black imprisonment in apartheid South Africa. Incarceration rates for Aboriginal children are at rates 26 times higher than for White Australians, including several hundred under the age of 13.
  • Aboriginal deaths in custody occur on a systematic basis, with nearly 500 such deaths since 1991 or 15 deaths each year. Former Australian diplomat Bruce Haigh, who was stationed for a time in South Africa, tweeted in July 2021: “Apartheid Australia – it has a ring of authenticity,” in response to yet another indigenous death in detention.
  • Australia Day, held on January 26th, commemorates the day in 1788 when Great Britain formally took possession of the colony of New South Wales. However, Aborigines commemorate this day as “Invasion Day.” Aboriginal activist Michael Mansell explained the meaning of this day: “The British were armed to the teeth and from the moment they stepped foot on our country, the slaughter and dispossession of Aborigines began.” Aborigines continue to fight for their sovereign rights which have been denied by the White dominated Australian government.

A THRESHOLD MAINTAINED: AUSTRALIAN AUTHORITIES AND THE CRIMES OF APARTHEID AND PERSECUTION

About 24 million White Australians and 800,000 Aboriginal people live today on the Australian continent. For purposes of this report, the term Aboriginal people shall refer to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, also known as “First Australians.” Throughout the continent, the White Australian government is the sole governing power, while Aboriginal people have no form of self-rule despite their status as the sole indigenous people of Australia with a presence as far back as 80,000 BC. Across Australia and in most aspects of life, Australian authorities methodically privilege White Australians and discriminate against Aboriginal people. Laws and policies have and remain in place with the objective of maintaining White Australian control over political power, land and resources, which have long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed and subjugated Aboriginal people by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain circumstances, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.

Several widely held assumptions, including that acts of reconciliation have brought about an end to systematic discrimination, or that land has been returned to Aboriginal people and that Australia is an egalitarian democracy, have obscured the reality of Australia’s entrenched discriminatory rule over Aboriginal people. British settler-colonialists and their descendants have maintained rule over the indigenous Aboriginal population for over 200 years and this regime continues into the present.

White Australians who colonized the continent have granted themselves superior status under the law as compared to Aboriginal people under the law, which continues to the present day, when it comes to title to land, access to cultural heritage sites, and exclusion from recognition and decision making under the Australian constitution. Aboriginal people do not exercise any form of sovereignty despite tens of thousands of years of control of the continent prior to the arrival of British settler-colonialists in 1788. Although Australia has ostensibly made some efforts to return land to Aboriginal people, these actions are mostly symbolic as in most cases Aboriginal people are not granted actual control and title to the land, and the government allows Aboriginal lands to be legally expropriated by mining companies, ranchers, or the state for infrastructure projects. The Australian government has maintained its intent to control the majority of the land in perpetuity and backed it up through their actions in limiting the quantity of land returned to the indigenous inhabitants, and other measures such as total control of water rights.

This report does not set out to compare Australia with South Africa under apartheid or to determine whether Australia is an “apartheid state”—a concept that is not defined in international law. Rather, the report assesses whether specific acts and policies carried out by Australian authorities today amount in particular areas to the crimes of apartheid and persecution as defined under international law.

On the basis of the facts shown below this report concludes that the Australian government has demonstrated an intent to maintain the domination of White Australians over Aboriginal people across the continent. That intent has been coupled with systematic oppression of Aboriginal people and inhumane acts committed against them. When these three elements occur together, they amount to the crime of apartheid.

Australian officials have also committed the crime against humanity of persecution. This finding is based on the discriminatory intent behind Australia’s treatment of Aboriginal people and the grave abuses carried out that include the widespread confiscation of Aboriginal owned land, the denial of land ownership rights to the indigenous people, and sweeping, decades-long abuses of fundamental human rights. Such policies and practices intentionally and severely deprive Aboriginal people of key fundamental rights, including access to land, services, and resources, on a widespread and systematic basis by virtue of their identity as Aboriginal people.

Australia from its founding intended to maximize land ownership for White Australians and minimize the Aboriginal population. Australia was founded through British colonization, occupation, ethnic cleansing, and massacres of the indigenous Aboriginal people, who trace their presence in Australia for tens of thousands of years. The British established their first colony in 1788; at that moment the indigenous population was estimated between 750,000 and 1.25 million. Today, the Aboriginal population is only about 800,000, which evidences the ethnic cleansing with no net population growth over a period of 230 years, while the white population has ballooned to over 24 million persons to dominate the ethnic and racial makeup of the nation. Australia became a unified nation in 1901 when six British colonies formed a federation. At the same time the “White Australia Policy,” an overtly racist doctrine, was adopted that forbade non-Europeans from immigrating to Australia and marginalized indigenous populations.[3] Aboriginal people mourn the history of their dispossession and land confiscation each year on “Invasion Day” which is the same day most Australian celebrate Australia Day. Australia Day, held on January 26th, commemorates the day in 1788 when Great Britain formally took possession of the colony of New South Wales. Aboriginal activist Michael Mansell explained the meaning of this day: “The British were armed to the teeth and from the moment they stepped foot on our country, the slaughter and dispossession of Aborigines began.”[4]


SUMMARY

Two primary groups live in Australian today: White Australians descended from British settler-colonialists who arrived beginning in 1788 and Aboriginal people who have lived in territory for over 80,000 years and are considered one of the oldest cultures in the world. One primary sovereign, the White dominated Australian government, rules over them.

Intent to Maintain Domination

White Australians have cemented their domination across Australia through over 200 years of land expropriation and discriminatory practices that continue to this day. The Australian constitution does not even recognize the existence of Aboriginal people, their historical connection to the land or their languages. By not mentioning Aboriginal people in any way, the constitution effectively erases the indigenous people and their culture even though they were the original inhabitants of Australia. The constitution also contains two clauses that allow the White dominant government to implement racist measures, specifically Clause 25 and 51. As MP Linda Burney stated, “Section 51 of our national constitution does not implicitly allow racial discrimination, it explicitly condones it.”[5] The Australian constitution also violates the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which states that “Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights.”[6] Australians now dominate Australia with an Aboriginal population that remains at the same level as it did 250 years ago and comprises only about 3% of the population. While the Aboriginal Land Rights Act and Native Title Acts have granted certain land rights to Aboriginal people, the “native title” granted under these acts is a weaker form of ownership that specifically and discriminatorily applies only to Aboriginal people, and thus maintains White Australian domination over the land.[7] The government has further granted White owned business interests such as mining and ranching the right to expropriate Aboriginal lands, which is exercised regularly, further maintaining White domination of the land.

Systematic Oppression and Institutional Discrimination

To implement the goal of domination, the Australian government institutionally discriminates against Aboriginal people. The White majority treats Aboriginal people separately and unequally as compared to White Australians. While Aboriginal Australians have the right to vote and stand for Australian elections, these rights do not empower them to overcome institutional discrimination they face from the  Australian government, including widespread restrictions on accessing and gaining title to ancestral land, government sanctioned destruction of Aboriginal cultural heritage sites, and a policy of forcible removal of Aboriginal children to state children’s services programs against the wishes of Aboriginal communities which has been called a “second lost generation.” Other institutionalized abuses at varying degrees in different areas are deliberately engineered to benefit the White Australian dominant group, such as access to valuable water rights. As Claire Coleman, an award-winning Aboriginal writer and poet wrote: “Australia is racist and happy for Indigenous people to suffer under a paternalistic, colonialist fist. Indigenous people are forced to accept conditions that no other Australian would tolerate.”[8]

Inhumane Acts and Other Abuses of Fundamental Rights

Pursuant to these policies, Australian authorities have carried out a range of inhumane acts against Aboriginal people throughout Australia. Prior to and since the formation of the Australian state in 1901, the government has systematically discriminated against and violated the rights of Aboriginal people, including by refusing to grant title to Aboriginal ancestral lands and cultural sites and state sanctioned confiscation of the same land for mining and ranching companies. Aboriginal people are also subject to major abuses of fundamental human rights such as the highest incarceration rate of any minority group in the world; incarceration rates for Aboriginal children at rates 26 times higher than for White Australians, including several hundred under the age of 13. Aboriginal deaths in custody occur on a systematic basis, with nearly 500 such deaths since 1991 or 15 deaths each year. Former Australian diplomat Bruce Haigh, who was stationed for time in South Africa, tweeted in July 2021: “Apartheid Australia – it has a ring of authenticity,” in response to yet another indigenous death in detention.[9] The forcible removal of children from Aboriginal homes, which has grown in numbers in the past decade, is another example of an inhumane act to which MP David Shoebridge said in 2019: “This rate of forced removals of Aboriginal children is causing ongoing damage to Aboriginal communities.”[10]

I. INTENT TO MAINTAIN DOMINATION

Australian government policy has long sought to engineer and maintain a White majority in Australia and maximize White Australian control over land in Australia. Laws, planning documents such as for mining and infrastructure, statements by officials, and lack of recognition of Aboriginal people in the core national documents, demonstrate that the pursuit of domination by White Australians over Aboriginal people, in particular over control of the land and resources such as water rights, guides government policy, and actions to this day. When inhumane acts are carried out in the context of systematic oppression pursuant to that intent to maintain domination, the crime against humanity of apartheid is committed.

Australia can, like any other state, seek to promote a particular identity, but that does not include a license to violate fundamental rights, especially as White colonizers took control of Aboriginal lands with no intention of ever handing back control to the indigenous inhabitants. Not all policies designed by the White Australian controlled authorities constitute rights abuses. Particular policies can, though, provide evidence of a discriminatory intent or purpose to maintain domination by White Australians. As this chapter will show, Australian authorities have pursued many policies in ways that manifest a discriminatory intent to systematically dominate Aboriginal people.

Demographics

From the first arrival of British colonialists to Australia in 1788 demographic considerations, in particular a quest for a dominant White European majority, have long underlined Australian government policy. The key directive in the formation of Australia in 1901 was the White Australia Policy, which was only abolished in 1973. Despite acknowledgement that White Australians are not indigenous to Australia and actually perpetrated ethnic cleansing and massacres of the indigenous population to take control of Australia, the White dominant government has not sought to return control of the nation to its indigenous inhabitants it dispossessed over the course of several centuries, and continues to severely limit the return of land to Aboriginal control.

When the Australian constitution came into effect in 1901 it did not recognize Aboriginal people and explicitly discriminated against them. While much of the most discriminatory language was removed in a 1967 federal referendum, two references still remain that explicitly allow the commonwealth or state governments to discriminate against indigenous people on the basis of race. These powers have in fact been used against Aboriginal people.[11] According to Reconciliation Australia, a leading Australian based NGO, Australia is “the only country with a constitution that allows for discrimination against its Indigenous peoples based on their race.”[12]

Prominent Australian journalist and scholar Jeff McMullen, appointed Member of the Order of Australia in 2006, wrote “A glance at the [Australian] constitution reveals the deep stain of racism and discrimination,” adding “It is one of the few constitutions in the world today with negative race powers allowing government to make laws and policy that pointedly trample the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”[13] Historian Mark McKenna acknowledged in 2018 the “historical reality that we have an exclusionary and racist constitution which was drawn up without even once consulting Indigenous Australians.”[14]

A January 2021 periodic review of Australia by the United Nations Human Rights Council listed one of the recommendations that Australia should “Exclude from the Constitution the provisions that allow racial discrimination.”[15] While the government has discussed an indigenous “voice” in parliament, the behavior of the government has shown these efforts to be a charade.[16] Former Prime Minister Turnbull and the cabinet stated in 2017 that the addition of an enshrined Aboriginal voice in parliament was “neither desirable nor capable of winning acceptance in a referendum.”[17] This stance further evidences the intention of the government to maintain domination over Aboriginal people. Even symbolic recognition of Indigenous people failed in a referendum in 1999, when 60% of Australians voted against the proposal.[18] The policy committee of the West Australian Liberal party revealed why it opposed indigenous recognition, warning that it would lead to an independent indigenous government that will control “more than 60% of the Australian continent.”[19] It is clear that the White dominated government is not willing to grant even symbolic recognition to Aboriginal people in line with its intent to maintain domination.

Control Over Land

Alongside demographic control, Australian authorities have sought to ensure White Australian control over the land and natural resources in Australia. Australian authorities have largely pursued the goals of demographic and land domination in parallel, seeking to maximize the land available for White controlled businesses interests, particularly mining.

While Australia had made efforts to recognize pre-existing native title rights to the land, which at one point was 100% held by Aboriginal people, as of 2020 only about 14% of land in Australia is subject to exclusive Aboriginal control.[20] There are currently over 37,000 unresolved Aboriginal land claims awaiting determination by the government. This backlog has been growing each year and according to James Christian, CEO of the New South Wales Land Council, “there’s been institutional racism, deliberate obstacles.” The goal of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act was to deliver to Aboriginal people ancestral lands and “remedy the effects of Aboriginal dispossession.” John Corkill of the University of Wollongong explained that these policies are “institutionalised racism…a pillar of the white dispossession of Aboriginal people.”[21] The Australian government continues the legacy of its theft of Aboriginal lands, and despite laws ostensibly intended to return land to Aboriginal people, state authorities have deliberately placed roadblocks to deny Aboriginal people of their rightful lands, and maintains domination of the most important lands on the continent.[22]

Not only does the government refuse to hand over lands rightfully owned by Aboriginal people, but also permits the deliberate destruction of Aboriginal cultural sites that occur with impunity, in large extent perpetrated legally by mining companies. According to Aboriginal leaders, “Every day there are forms of destruction of our cultural heritage.” Current laws discriminate against Aboriginal cultural heritage sites, with mining companies permitted to file a “section 18 application” for permission to destroy or impact a registered Aboriginal heritage site, and the government has refused to repeal these laws.[23] In 2020 Australian mining giant Rio Tinto destroyed 46,000-year-old aboriginal caves at Juukan Gorge. Although they apologized, an inquiry concluded that Rio Tinto “knew the value of what they were destroying but blew it up anyway.”[24] In fact, Rio Tinto still holds 1,780 approvals to destroy Aboriginal sacred sites under what are called “outdated Aboriginal heritage laws” and other mining companies have similar approvals with the support of the government.[25][26] For example, in 2019 the Queensland government extinguished native title over 1,385 hectares for a proposed coalmine in the Galilee Basin along with $4.4 billion in subsidies to the mining company. The move would lead to the removal of Aboriginal inhabitants to which Aboriginal leader Adrian Burragubba said “We have been made trespassers on our own country.”[27] Dr. Thalia Anthony of the University of Technology Sydney who specializes in racism in the criminal justice system explained that “There has also been a withering away of Aboriginal land rights and the issuing of unprecedented mining and fracking exploration licenses.”[28]

When laws were discussed to better protect Aboriginal heritage sites, the national body representing hundreds of mining and mineral exploration companies stated that it would be an “overreach” to strengthen laws to protect Aboriginal heritage.[29] It is clear that the Australian government has placed the economic interests of mining companies above those of Aboriginal peoples and allowed these companies to destroy their cultural heritage sites with effective impunity.[30] Journalist and scholar John Pilger called the actions by mining companies “reminiscent of the brutality that brought universal condemnation on apartheid South Africa.”[31] Michael Woodley, CEO of the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, described the mining rules that restrict Aboriginal access to their heritage sites as “apartheid-like.”[32]

 

Conclusion

The pursuit by Australian authorities of the objective of maintaining White Australian control vis-a-vis Aboriginal people over demographics and land in Australia amounts to a “purpose” or purposes “of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons,” as set out in the Apartheid Convention. It also rises to an “intention” or intentions “of maintaining that regime [or regimes of systematic oppression and domination],” as set out in the Rome Statute definition of apartheid, and a discriminatory intent or intents, as part of the customary international law definition of persecution. These policies, practices, and statements collectively establish a discriminatory intent by Australian authorities to maintain systematic domination by White Australians over Aboriginal people. The government continues to deny Aboriginal people any form of self determination.[33]

Adam Sharah, an Aboriginal activist, explained that “Australia is the only first world western nation to implement apartheid policy on its first nations people. The systemic, institutionalised and legislated racism that Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory experience on a daily basis is a crime against humanity, Aboriginal and civil human rights, and our sovereignty.”[34]

Sisonke Msimang, a South African writer, activist and political analyst who now lives in Australia, has written that Australia is more racist than her homeland, and that the current treatment of Aboriginal people is like South Africa’s Apartheid. She explains that “While protests about Islam infiltrating Australia have dominated the media…she started to recognise a systematic approach to ‘assimilate’ and ‘eradicate’ Australia’s Indigenous heritage, simply by denying that Aboriginal Australian’s have different needs to white Australians.”[35]

II. SYSTEMATIC OPPRESSION AND INSTITUTIONAL DISCRIMINATION

The definition of the crime of apartheid under both the Apartheid Convention and Rome Statute requires, in addition to the intent to dominate, systematic oppression, along with the commission of inhumane acts. As outlined previously, the Australian government pursues policies and practices that demonstrate its intent to maintain domination of White Australians over Aboriginal people. The effect of these policies is to privilege White Australians over Aboriginal people in most aspects of life, including within the criminal justice system, access to land and cultural heritage sites, allocation of resources and services, meaningful representation in government and recognition in the constitution.

Land and Housing

Since the first landing of European colonialists in 1788 Australian authorities have confiscated the entire continent of Australia to create a settler colonial state that now comprises 24 million non-indigenous persons. While Australian authorities have made some efforts to return title to land to its original inhabitants, White Australians still dominate the land mass. The land that has been returned to Aboriginal people also excludes the most valuable real estate in the southeastern portion of the nation where the vast majority of inhabitants reside. Australian authorities have used several different legal instruments to confiscate Aboriginal lands and thwart mechanisms that are supposed to return title to its original and rightful owners. Much of the land that has been returned is actually “non-exclusive” meaning that Aboriginal people don’t control the land and have no rights to say who can come onto the property. Only about 14% of the land is actually under exclusive Aboriginal control. In fact, the government can “extinguish” native title anywhere it seeks to build infrastructure. Native title is also in itself discriminatory as it is a weaker category of land ownership, established by the government specifically to apply to Aboriginal land rights, compared to the normal “freehold title.” For example, weaker native title regimes preclude the use of the land as collateral to borrow from banks.[36][37] Under these policies of institutional discrimination over land ownership, Australia violates the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Article 26) which states, among other things:

1) Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or other-wise used or acquired.

2) Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired.

3) States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned.

Further oppression has been perpetrated by the deliberate destruction of Aboriginal cultural sites, which is akin to the destruction of religious sites such as mosques or churches. The destruction of these sites is legal under government law, which amounts to state sanctioned oppression against the cultural heritage of Aboriginal people. Dr. Anne Poelina, chair of Fitzroy Martuwarra council in Western Australia, explained that “Unjust, invasive colonial development comes to communities in such a way that we don’t have time to respond in the way we want to, to such massive development.” She further explained that state’s rights overrode indigenous rights.[38]

Other White land interests in Australia supersede those of Aboriginal people. For example, a court decision in Western Australia determined that the rights of ranchers and farmers leasing land prevailed over the native title rights of the local Aboriginal people. As noted in an article on the matter, “The court agreed with the plaintiffs that certain ‘existing interests,’ like grazing, can ‘extinguish’ native title claims.[39] In 2019 a group of Aboriginal land claims in the Northern Territory was held up, in some cases for almost 20 years, due to ongoing opposition from cattle and fishing industry groups.[40]

Resources and Services

Australian authorities retain primary control over resources and land and systematically privilege White Australians over Aboriginal people in the provision of water, health care, and other services. Australian authorities discriminate in the provision of resources and services between White Australians and Aboriginal people. Aboriginal people are also denied proper representation in parliament to advocate for their needs, perpetuating the status of White domination. As Margaret Malezer, the indigenous campaign coordinator for the Queensland Teachers’ union explained, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders have been calling for a National Indigenous Body to be formed – a representative ‘voice’ to parliament. This is the only solution to address and challenge past practices and policies by governments and agencies, which perpetuate continuing disadvantage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”[41]

In the area of water resources, important in many of the arid areas of the continent, the Australian government denies Aboriginal people important water licenses, “a form of economic and cultural dispossession” according to a study by researchers from Griffith University. The study found that water entitlements for Aborigines in the major basin that spans five states of Australia covered only 0.12% of the available water.[42] The water entitlements are valued at $16 billion but Aboriginal people only hold less than $20 million of this value, a form of economic domination of resources by White Australians. The situation has only become worse, with Aboriginal water rights down 17% in the last ten years. Professor Sue Jackson said that “These results show conclusively that Australia’s system of water governance is inequitable and unjust…It has excluded Indigenous people from accessing water and from participating in the water economy.” Will Mooney, an Indigenous Nations official, explained “First Nations have inherent rights to water on their country, but as a result of colonisation, the development of water allocation, the water market, and the unbundling of land and water has further dispossessed First Nations from water access.”[43]

In the area of healthcare services Aboriginal people are consistently left far behind. The life expectancy of Aboriginal people is about nine years lower than non-indigenous Australians at for males at under 72 years of age ranks below countries such as Egypt, Indonesia and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.[44] White Australians enjoy life expectancy at the top of the charts, comparable to Norway and Sweden.

Aboriginal housing is also deficient and symptomatic of systematic discrimination. About 1 in 5 Indigenous Australians were living in a house that did not meet an acceptable standard—that is, at least 1 basic household facility was unavailable or there were more than 2 major structural problems, rates far above those of White Australians. According to latest data, 29% of Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over had been homeless at some time – rates that are 9x greater than other Australians.[45] The lack of sufficient spending on adequate housing for Aboriginal people in a nation where 97% of the population is non-indigenous reflects institutional discrimination. As one report on the housing crisis in indigenous communities noted, “Overcrowded homes are at the root of Indigenous disadvantage, and communities are crying out for culturally appropriate dwellings.”[46]

Teela Reid, an Aboriginal lawyer and human rights advocate, summarized the position of Aboriginal people: “Australians are aware of the appalling statistics First Nations face: dying younger, incarcerated at the highest rates in the world, poor educational outcomes, children still being removed from their families. The gap is not closing. This has become the narrative of a country that is too afraid to dream big and reimagine a world where we see Australia’s First Nations as the solution, not the problem.”[47] Researchers at Monash University concluded that “Major discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – like being unfairly denied a job or unfairly discouraged from continuing education – remains at elevated levels and is far higher than for the rest of the population.”[48] [49]

Case Study: Violations of International Law in the Northern Territory Through a Racist Welfare System

The following case study details how Australian authorities discriminate against the Aboriginal residents of the Northern Territory in ways that stifle the community’s growth and undermine its well-being while maintaining a regime of White domination in the same location.

The treatment of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory (NT) continues the legacy of White domination over the indigenous population. Aboriginal people in the NT suffer high levels of unemployment, low school enrollment, alcoholism, community safety issues, food insecurity, low quality housing and high incarceration rates. One of the key abuses is the treatment of Aboriginal children, who are forcibly removed from their families against the wishes of the indigenous community. While the government ostensibly seeks to improve the situation for Aboriginal people in the NT, in reality both laws and actions serve to entrench White domination in the territory.

The Stronger Futures legislation enacted for the NT in fact discriminates against Aboriginal people. Some of the harsh laws include six months imprisonment for possession of just one can of beer and 18 months for a six-pack.[50] Another of the discriminatory policies under this legislation relates to welfare payments, which are distributed in a cashless care system and subject to “income management,” whereby monies are mandatorily set aside to pay for certain goods such as food, housing and education. This system specifically targets Aboriginal people and attempts to correct their spending behaviors, effectively a separate rule for the indigenous population of the NT. The Aboriginal  community has described the system as “oppressive” and like being “fed by rations.” A 2018 research paper in the Journal of Australian Political Economy noted that it was effectively a continuation of White dominated norms explaining: “The disproportionate targeting of First Nations populations as part of the trial also reveals its neo-colonial tenors; settler defined responsible behavior is also to be instilled in First Nations people to support assimilation into settler norms.”[51] The paper called the system a continuation of the dispossession of Aboriginal people:

Accumulation by dispossession has been a fundamental aspect in settler colonialism – the removal of First Nations peoples off their land was essential to establish and maintain the nation and economy. In the case of the Cashless Debit Card, this accumulation by dispossession is not always through active removal from land, but through punitive welfare which aims to shape the subjectivities of people in a way which is conducive to settler norms (and capitalist expansion). It works in conjunction with other processes of accumulation by dispossession that are simultaneously underway including Native Title laws that facilitate the watering down of land rights, the pauperising and vilification of First Nations agency and productive labour, the defunding of remote communities to effectively encourage people off the land, the underfunding of culturally-appropriate services and education to support language, kinship and healing, and the denial of sovereignty and the freedom to self-determine.[52]

In particular the Stronger Futures legislation was passed without consultation with the indigenous communities affected, in violation of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (Article 19):

States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.

The law prevents Aboriginal people from negotiating with mining companies and prohibits them from claiming Native Title on land in the NT. Gillian Triggs, who currently serves as the Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations was formerly the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission stated the following regarding government policies, calling them “violations of international law”:

The Act and its extension breach the Racial Discrimination Act, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the important Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples… While it was nominally designed to protect children, it’s become a chilling act of political cynicism and opportunism, an overreach of executive decision-making, a failure of parliament and the manipulation of truth. 73 remote Aboriginal communities remain subjected to discriminatory legislation that no other Australian citizen endures in its crushing totality. It is time to return dignity and human rights to Indigenous peoples living in remote Australia.[53]

Expropriation of land in the NT is commonplace. As one Aboriginal rights activist explained, “[The Northern Territory] is the only place in the world where a state directly operates an industry to gain communal assets, often without even allowing negotiations with Aboriginal locals. Democracy does not apply to Aboriginal people, let us put it that way.”[54]

Conclusion

Australian authorities use a series of policies and practices to methodically privilege White Australians and repress Aboriginal people. The severity of the repression amounts to “systematic oppression” by one racial group over another, a key component for the crime of apartheid as set out in both the Rome Statute and Apartheid Convention.

III. INHUMANE ACTS AND OTHER ABUSES OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

Grave abuses, or “inhuman[e] acts” as set out in the Apartheid Convention and Rome Statute, amount to the crime against humanity of apartheid when carried out in the context of systematic oppression with an intent to maintain a system of domination. Severe abuses of fundamental rights make up the crime against humanity of persecution when carried out with discriminatory intent.

To maintain the domination of White Australians over Aboriginal people, Australian authorities have carried out over many years a range of serious abuses. Many of these abuses amount to inhumane acts, one of the three elements of the crime of apartheid, including:

  • Refusing to return to Aboriginal people control of 86% of the land (only 14% has been returned to date) that was confiscated from them by British settler-colonialists and their descendants after tens of thousands of years of prior ownership;
  • Ongoing state sanctioned confiscation of Aboriginal land in favor of business interests, and similarly sanctioned destruction of Aboriginal cultural sites, depriving them of their property, heritage and way of life;
  • Aboriginal housing represents an abuse of fundamental human rights with nearly 1 in 3 Aboriginal people having been homeless and major deficiencies in housing quality compared to White Australians;
  • The denial of Aboriginal representation in the Australian constitution which amounts to the deprivation of an Aboriginal voice in the wide range of affairs that most affect their daily lives and futures;
  • Inhumane incarceration policies that target Aboriginal people and children. Aboriginal people are incarcerated at the highest rate of any minority in the world.
  • Aboriginal deaths in detention is a stark abuse of fundamental human rights. Nearly 500 Aboriginal people have died in custody since 1991, about 15 per year, including four in 2021 alone.
  • Forcible removal of Aboriginal children is permitted by the government, a policy which Aboriginal leaders have called a “second lost generation.”

Carried out pursuant to long-standing policies and practices of the Australian government, these acts continued to dispossess many Aboriginal people, bar some from entering their places of origin, block them from their millennia old cultural heritage sites, and wreak havoc on the lives of many more.

Land Control Regime in Australia

Using a range of official justifications, Australia since the first arrival of British colonialists in 1788 and even after numerous reforms were enacted has taken control over the entire continent of Australia to serve the needs of non-indigenous White Australians. Most commonly, Australian authorities confiscate land, all of which was originally owned by Aboriginal people, by declaring it available for mining, ranching, farming or other business interests. Even land that has been returned to Aboriginal people under “native title rights” is subject to a discriminatory ownership regime as most of the returned land is not actually under full control of Aboriginal people with a legal change of title or access to water rights.[55] The returned land cannot qualify for bank loans as it is not actually under control by the Aboriginal people to whom it was supposed to be returned. The state has the right to confiscate Aboriginal land for infrastructure projects and its not required to pay full compensation for such land. The destruction of Aboriginal cultural sites is commonplace and a particular egregious example of inhumane acts which would be similar to state sanctioned destruction of a mosque or church in favor of a mining license.

Inhumane Incarceration Policies

Aboriginal people have the highest rate of incarceration of any minority group in the world.[56] Aboriginal people comprise only 3.3% of the population but 28% of the prison population – and sharply up from 14% in 1991 demonstrating Australian government indifference to these inhumane policies. In fact, research has shown that the indigenous incarceration rate in Australia match those of black imprisonment in apartheid South Africa.[57] The police are permitted, without a warrant, to arrest and detain a person into custody for up to four hours under certain circumstances. The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has documented how these laws are disproportionately used against Aborigines who “are at risk of unnecessary periods of incarceration for minor offences.” The commission documented cases of custody far longer then four hours. A similar law targets Aboriginal people for mandatory treatment for alcoholism. Police can detain a person for public drunkenness for three months of forced rehabilitation. 99% of those caught under this law are Aboriginal and are often detained without access to a lawyer. Aboriginal people say that this government policy targets Aboriginal people.[58]

 

Inhumane Child Incarceration Rates

Aboriginal child incarceration rates are incredibly high, with an average of 949 in detention on any given night, amounting to an abuse of fundamental human rights.[59] Indigenous youth are 26 times more likely to be placed in detention that non-indigenous youth and about half of all child prisoners in Australia are indigenous. Australia sets the age of criminal responsibility at 10, diverging from most western nations who set the age at 14. A 2021 report showed that in the past year alone 499 children under the age of 13 were imprisoned, over 65% of them Aboriginal.[60] (100% of children in detention in the Northern Territory were Aboriginal).[61] Aboriginal children are often incarcerated for minor offenses, for example a United Nations official described how a 12 year old boy was imprisoned for stealing fruit.[62] Australia was slammed in a United Nations review in March 2021 about these inhumane incarceration policies of young children. Nolan Hunter, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead, noted that this policy was a “legacy of Colonialism.” The United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples has called the gross overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the prison population “the end result of years of dispossession, discrimination and intergenerational trauma faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders,” as well as “lack of political will to address the situation.”[63]

Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

Aboriginal deaths in custody remains a fundamental abuse of human rights in Australia under the White dominated government, with nearly 500 such deaths since 1991 when a commission was formed to address this issue. This translates to more than 15 deaths each year – including four over a period of just three weeks in 2021. Western Australian Senator Pat Dodson noted in 2020 that “We haven’t seen a coordinated approach to deal with this as a national issue.”[64]

Forcible Removal of Aboriginal Children

Indigenous children are subject to an alarming rate of being forcibly removed from their families and placed into child protection systems, at a rate 10 times that of non-Indigenous children.[65] The numbers of children removed from their families has growth significantly in the last decade.[66] While ostensibly permitted by the government to assist at risk children, Aboriginal leaders have called these policies “another stolen generation” and suggesting that the White Australian dominated government knows how to protect Aboriginal children better than their families and indigenous communities.[67] The policies ignore the different and complex family units of Aboriginal communities and impose a White dominated idea of the nuclear family.[68] Australian journalist Miranda Devine wrote about child protection policies which disadvantage Aboriginal children, titling her article “End child protection apartheid.” She explained that “This policy shows Aboriginal children that they are second-class citizens because the abuse and neglect they endure has to far exceed that of a white Australian child before we act.”[69][70] Aboriginal journalist Natalie Cromb that the removal policies “disempowers our communities and maintains the status quo of oppression.”[71]

Immigration and Asylum Policies

Australia’s systematic policies of racial supremacy are not only limited to Aboriginal people. As Human Rights Watch reported, “Australia’s abusive offshore processing policy [for refugees and asylum seekers] has caused immeasurable suffering for thousands of vulnerable asylum seekers. The cruelty of these camps, in which seven people have committed suicide and children have been terribly traumatized, should not be replicated elsewhere.”[72] Immigration laws also favor whites. In 2018 Minister of Immigration Peter Dutton sparked outrage after calling for Australia to fast-track persecuted white South African farmers into Australia over other refugees.[73]

CONCLUSION

Australian authorities have deprived Aboriginal people of their basic rights by virtue of their identity as First Australians. These longstanding policies and systematic practices dispossess, destroy cultural heritage, marginalize, and otherwise inflict suffering on Aboriginal people. These policies began with the arrival of British colonial settlers in 1788 who over the course of more than 200 years ethnically cleansed, massacred and dispossessed the indigenous Aboriginal people of Australia to enable the domination of White Europeans on the Australian continent. The White Australian population totals about 24 million persons compared to 800,000 Aboriginal people, a total which has not changed since 1788 demonstrating the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people. While the worst practices of the regime have changed dramatically in a series of acts such as the 1967 Australian referendum and the Aboriginal Land Rights Act in 1976, systematic discrimination as outlined in this report still amount to the crime of apartheid.

Throughout Australia, denial of land rights and refusal to grant full title to Aboriginal owned land, confiscation of ancestral land in favor of business interests, denial of Aboriginal people and language in the constitution, deprivation of resources such as water rights, forcible removal of children into state care, inhumane incarceration practices of adults and especially children, and other deprivation of resources such as adequate housing, all constitute “inhuman[e] acts” set out under the Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute. Under both legal standards, inhumane acts when carried out amid systematic oppression and with the intent to maintain domination make up the crime against humanity of apartheid.

Collectively, these policies and practices throughout Australia severely deprive Aboriginal people of fundamental human rights, including to private property, and access to land, services, and resources, on a widespread and systematic basis. When committed with discriminatory intent, on the basis of the victims’ identity as part of a group or collective, they amount to the crime against humanity of persecution under the Rome Statute and customary international law. These abuses continue and there is no indication that authorities have held anyone accountable, or anyone involved in their commission.

There is acknowledgement among Australian Aboriginal people, researchers, journalists and Australian officials that these policies of systematic oppression and with the intent to maintain domination, which combined constitute the crime of apartheid, are actively present in Australia today. The following are some examples:

John Quigley, the Attorney-General for Western Australia, stated that there was “systematic discrimination” against indigenous people in the state’s justice system. Among his comments, he added “I stood before the Australian Bar Association two years ago and said it’s a national disgrace. We’re incarcerating Aboriginal people at a rate 70 per cent higher than the national average, and 30 per cent higher than the Northern Territory.”[74]

Megan Krakouer, Director of Australia’s National Suicide Prevention & Trauma Recovery Project, discussing the discriminatory justice system, noted “It’s not just about Aboriginal deaths in custody, it’s about poverty, it’s about lack of housing and it’s about children being removed…That’s why we have to call out systematic racism when we see it.”[75]

Western Australian Senator Pat Dodson said in 2020 that “there need to be honest conversations about systemic racism in Australia.”[76]

Aboriginal leaders in the Northern Territory have said that the legal system is “little more than veiled apartheid.” Larrakia elder June Mills said in 2014 that “225 years after white settlement, Aboriginal welfare has been going backwards. We have the stolen generation going on today, in a much more polished way than before – it’s slick now.” She cited “unbelievable rates” of incarceration where 85% of the NT prison population is Aboriginal, and 99% for children.[77]

Jared Sharp of the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency said in 2014 that “An unofficial apartheid is in action…We have the guise that there’s one law for everyone in NT but that’s certainly not how things are implemented.”[78]

Dr Lana Hartwig from the Australian Rivers Institute said there had been three waves of dispossession of water rights for First Nations peoples. “The third wave of dispossession is now, where water became a commodity from 2004.”[79]

John Pilger, a prominent Australian journalist and scholar, wrote an article in 2013 titled “In the lucky country of Australia apartheid is alive and kicking.”[80] His article is an indictment of racist policies in Australia, in which he concludes:

When I began filming this secret Australia 30 years ago, a global campaign was under way to end apartheid in South Africa. Having reported from South Africa, I was struck by the similarity of white supremacy and the compliance and defensiveness of liberals. Yet no international opprobrium, no boycotts, disturbed the surface of “lucky” Australia. Watch security guards expel Aboriginal people from shopping malls in Alice Springs; drive the short distance from the suburban barbies of Cromwell Terrace to Whitegate camp, where the tin shacks have no reliable power and water. This is apartheid, or what Reynolds calls ‘the whispering in our hearts’.

Neil Gillespie, head of the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement in South Australia stated, “In fact, the worst offender of institutionalized discrimination and marginalisation of Aboriginal people is the government.”[81]

Stephen Hagan, Aboriginal film-maker and author, stated: “I’m on public record as saying Australians are the most racist people in the developed world for their treatment of the First Australians and I make this claim comfortable in the knowledge that I am sufficiently supported by incontestable statistical data.”[82]

Henrietta Fourmile Marrie, a member of the National Museum of Australia’s Indigenous Reference Group, stated: “We cannot pretend we belong to a free and democratic nation, and not advocate against the human rights violations directed specifically at Aboriginal people in this country.”[83]

[1] See for example, BICOM, The Apartheid Smear at: https://www.bicom.org.uk/analysis/18870/

[2]https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/04/27/threshold-crossed/israeli-authorities-and-crimes-apartheid-and-persecution

[3] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-09/black-lives-matter-cause-hits-home-for-indigenous-lawmaker

[4] https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australia-day-invasion-day

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/may/17/linda-burney-attacks-bolts-use-of-apartheid-and-urges-focus-on-winnable-battles

[6] https://opencanada.org/australias-slow-progress-on-indigenous-rights/

[7] https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-06-03/eddie-mabo-s-work-on-indigenous-land-rights-in-australia-is-far-from-complete

[8] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jan/20/this-is-not-about-grog-its-about-depression-hopelessness-and-failed-government

[9] https://twitter.com/bruce_haigh/status/1415238990890897410

[10] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/aug/15/2000-nsw-children-removed-from-their-families-were-placed-in-motels

[11] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/may/25/constitutional-recognition-and-why-the-uluru-talks-matter-explainer

[12] Reconciliation Australia, see document titled “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and the Constitution”

[13] https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/politics/constitutional-recognition-of-aboriginal-people

[14] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/15/our-constitution-is-already-racist-but-the-politics-around-the-voice-have-been-craven-and-nauseous

[15] Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review – Australia, March 24, 2021; https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/AUindex.aspx

[16] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/postcolonial-blog/2017/oct/27/the-whole-recognition-process-has-a-deep-colonial-resonance

[17] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/26/indigenous-voice-proposal-not-desirable-says-turnbull; https://twitter.com/ShireenMorrisMs/status/923322912018272256?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

[18] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/26/turnbulls-uluru-statement-rejection-mean-spirited-bastardry-legal-expert

[19] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/aug/29/wa-liberals-journal-claims-indigenous-recognition-risks-60-of-australian-continent

[20] National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 16/21 – Australia, United Nations, December 28, 2020; Aboriginal people have been granted claims representing about 40% of the land but many of these claims overlap existing cities and other developed areas. Agreements are struck whereby the existing uses of the lands are maintained.

[21] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jul/10/a-national-disgrace-37000-aboriginal-land-claims-left-languishing-by-nsw

[22] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/nov/28/aboriginal-traditional-owners-say-they-are-being-punished-for-opposing-adani-coalmine

[23] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/may/24/a-year-on-from-the-juukan-gorge-destruction-aboriginal-sacred-sites-remain-unprotected

[24] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55250137

[25] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/oct/16/rio-tinto-still-has-1780-approvals-to-destroy-aboriginal-sacred-sites-juukan-gorge-inquiry-told

[26] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/feb/25/fortescue-metals-damage-of-pilbara-sacred-site-breached-agreement-traditional-owners-say

[27] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/aug/31/queensland-extinguishes-native-title-over-indigenous-land-to-make-way-for-adani-coalmine

[28] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/30/how-can-justice-flow-in-the-northern-territory-when-aboriginal-lives-are-treated-with-callous-indifference

[29] https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/oct/02/peak-mining-body-says-federal-laws-protecting-aboriginal-heritage-do-not-need-strengthening

[30] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/21/mining-companies-have-operated-with-a-free-rein-and-few-consequences-for-too-long

[31] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/22/by-evicting-the-homelands-australia-has-again-declared-war-on-indigenous-people

[32] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/dec/13/western-australia-mining-boom-aborigines

[33] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/01/we-are-the-lucky-country-for-a-privileged-white-majority-a-republic-could-turn-this-around

[34] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/20/five-questions-to-adam-sharah-this-week-on-indigenousx

[35] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3041199/The-thing-strikes-Australia-racist-place-Writer-claims-treatment-Aborigines-WORSE-apartheid-South-Africa.html

[36] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/ng-interactive/2021/may/17/who-owns-australia

[37] https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-06-03/eddie-mabo-s-work-on-indigenous-land-rights-in-australia-is-far-from-complete; https://www.abc.net.au/religion/aileen-moreton-robinson-citizenship-indigenous-sovereignty/13431896

[38] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/feb/20/every-day-its-happening-juukan-gorge-inquiry-told-aboriginal-heritage-is-commonly-destroyed

[39] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/how-indigenous-australians-are-still-fighting-their-lands-25-years-after-landmark-court-case-180963893/

[40] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/mar/29/aboriginal-land-rights-claims-unresolved-despite-all-clear-from-independent-review

[41] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/04/the-budgets-approach-to-indigenous-education-is-just-more-of-the-same

[42] https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/it-was-our-economy-now-we-are-dirt-poor-first-nations-people-dispossessed-of-water-20210219-p5741i.html

[43] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jul/24/australias-water-market-is-excluding-indigenous-people-study-finds

[44] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/australia-s-efforts-to-close-the-gap-on-indigenous-disadvantage-are-failing-analysis-shows

[45] https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/indigenous-housing; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5540447/#CR12

[46] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/aug/20/we-are-begging-for-housing-the-crisis-in-indigenous-communities

[47] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/14/an-australian-republic-without-a-first-nations-voice-is-just-tokenism

[48] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/may/24/discrimination-against-indigenous-australians-has-risen-dramatically-survey-finds

[49] https://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2020/jun/07/no-australia-is-not-the-us-our-shocking-racial-injustice-is-all-our-own

[50]https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwjZ6YyZ75_yAhXmdN8KHSlECRYQFnoECCUQAw&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ejaustralia.org.au%2Fwp%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2017%2F02%2FNWRN-Submission-Human-Rights-and-the-Stronger-Futures-in-the-NT.pdf&usg=AOvVaw21sOPpBD3J21jYucoeoAvJ

[51] https://theconversation.com/theres-mounting-evidence-against-cashless-debit-cards-but-the-government-is-ploughing-on-regardless-123763;

[52] CONTEMPORARY TOOLS OF DISPOSSESSION: THE CASHLESS DEBIT CARD TRIAL IN THE EAST KIMBERLEY, by Elise Klein and Sarouche Razi (2018), Journal of Australian Political Economy, No. 82, p. 101

[53] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/sep/02/northern-territory-intervention-violates-international-law-gillian-triggs-says

[54] https://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2012/01/25/aboriginal-rights-michael-anderson-interview/

[55] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/26/when-they-take-the-water-from-a-barkandji-person-they-take-our-blood

[56] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-56728328

[57] https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/may/18/50-years-since-indigenous-australians-first-counted-why-has-so-little-changed-1967-referendum

[58] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/veiled-apartheid-in-the-nt-elders

[59] https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/03/02/submission-rights-indigenous-child

[60] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/jul/27/jailing-of-nearly-500-children-under-13-a-failure-by-australias-top-legal-officers-advocates-say

[61] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/may/31/system-is-broken-all-children-in-nt-detention-are-aboriginal-officials-say

[62] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/apr/04/australia-rate-indigenous-child-removal-unique-un-investigator

[63] https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/03/02/submission-rights-indigenous-child

[64] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/wa-attorney-general-slams-state-s-systemic-discrimination-ahead-of-more-black-lives-matter-rallies; https://www.sbs.com.au/news/another-precious-life-lost-a-fourth-indigenous-person-has-died-in-custody-in-just-three-weeks

[65] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/nov/23/adoption-without-parental-consent-legalised-in-nsw

[66] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/commentisfree/2016/feb/13/eight-years-after-the-apology-indigenous-kids-are-still-being-removed-from-their-families

[67] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/26/poverty-must-stop-being-used-as-a-weapon-to-justify-separating-indigenous-families

[68] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/may/23/too-many-indigenous-children-are-taken-from-their-families-it-doesnt-have-to-happen

[69] https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/blogs/miranda-devine/end-child-protection-apartheid/news-story/918b3d1b1ec988e78a54b47449b122dd

[70] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/nov/16/alarming-rate-removal-of-australias-indigenous-children-escalating-report-warns

[71] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/26/poverty-must-stop-being-used-as-a-weapon-to-justify-separating-indigenous-families

[72] https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/07/16/australia-8-years-abusive-offshore-asylum-processing

[73] https://www.heraldsun.com.au/lifestyle/a-woman-who-fled-one-of-south-africas-darkest-chapters-shares-what-life-was-like-under-apartheid/news-story/c9282e1261acaf64bfa782d67b0da499

[74] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/wa-attorney-general-slams-state-s-systemic-discrimination-ahead-of-more-black-lives-matter-rallies

[75] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/wa-attorney-general-slams-state-s-systemic-discrimination-ahead-of-more-black-lives-matter-rallies

[76] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/wa-attorney-general-slams-state-s-systemic-discrimination-ahead-of-more-black-lives-matter-rallies

[77] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/veiled-apartheid-in-the-nt-elders

[78] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/veiled-apartheid-in-the-nt-elders

[79] https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/it-was-our-economy-now-we-are-dirt-poor-first-nations-people-dispossessed-of-water-20210219-p5741i.html

[80] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/05/australia-apartheid-alive-aboriginal-history

[81] https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/people/racism-in-aboriginal-australia#fnref34-1

[82] https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/people/racism-in-aboriginal-australia#signupform

[83] https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/may/18/50-years-since-indigenous-australians-first-counted-why-has-so-little-changed-1967-referendum

 

About the Author
Salo Aizenberg owns and manages Downtown Investment Advisory, an investment firm based in White Plains, NY. Salo is also an author and writer, having published "Hatemail: Anti-Semitism on Picture Postcards" which was nominated as a finalist for the National Jewish Book Awards, and other insightful articles about the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Comments