Friday 28 August 2009

U.N. Official defends his remarks on Australian indigenous "Intervention"

U.N. envoy James Anaya defends his condemnation of the Australian government over it's treatment of indigenous Australians.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA (AUGUST 28, 2009) SBS - James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous People, has been forced to defend his condemnation of Australia's controversial intervention into remote Aboriginal communities.
The senior U.N. official made the findings after a 12-day visit to Australia, where he visited indigenous communities and held talks with the Australian government.

He described the measures taken by the Australian government as discriminatory and spoke of entrenched racism in Australia.

His statements were not welcomed by all in Australia, with one politician calling his findings "nonsense" from an "arm-chair critic".

"I've gotten since my statement yesterday providing my preliminary observations on the situation in Australia, I've gotten 70-something E-mails from people in Australia. Most of them not very admiring, I must say," Anaya said on Friday (August 28) at a speaking engagement in Brisbane.

Australia's former conservative government sent police and troops to remote Aboriginal communities in June 2007, and made special bans on alcohol and pornography, to stamp out widespread child sex abuse fuelled by chronic alcoholism.

Anaya said in his statement that these measures "overtly discriminate against aboriginal peoples, infringe their right of self-determination and stigmatize already stigmatized communities."

Some see the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples itself as divisive.

"And this is an instrument that just can't work because it creates special rights for people and it's going to divide this E-mail tells me. It seeks to divide countries by classifying this group as against others. But that's not the case. That's not the case at all. That's a mistaken view of the declaration. The declaration is an instrument of reconciliation. It calls upon the world community and governments to reflect upon the past but in a constructive sense," Anaya added.

Anaya is the first U.N. Rapporteur on Indigenous People to visit Aboriginal communities in Australia.

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