Ethnocide: A crime equal to genocide

Ethnocide and Genocide
Letter to United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights
Navanethem Pillay
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais Wilson
52 rue des Paquis
CH-1201 Geneva
Submission by Michael Anderson,
Leader of the Euahlayi Nation
Co-founder of the 1972 Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra
and Convenor of the New Way Summit

24 May 2011


Continuing Sovereignty:

In 1999 a submission was made to the United Nations entitled Australia-The Concealed Colony. It was compiled by senior researchers Frank Coningham, Geoffrey Skelton and Ian Henke with research assistance from the University of Lausanne, the Sorbonne (Paris), the Humbolt University (Berlin), Trinity College Dublin, University of La Sapienza (Rome), the Comlutenso de Madrid, Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, University of Ghent (Belgium) and major American universities of Stanford, Cornell, Berkley and Harvard.

Australia-The Concealed Colony was tabled in the UN explaining that Australia was not a Legal Nation by comparison to other countries and that Australia was only classified as an Independent State by virtue of the fact that it is a Signatory to the UN charter and the Treaty of Versailles.

Since all law throughout the world law is about absolutism and certainty not ambiguity, it is a requirement of the UN to ensure that its Member States are in fact bone fide. Failure to do so is negligence and against the principles of the UN.

Aboriginal Nations and Peoples have never accepted British rule in Australia and this is evidenced by the violent discourse in Australia since British invasion in 1788.

Whilst British Crown has consistently requested, both as a prerogative exercise and written as an instruction to Governors and governments, Aborigines were to be treated as British subjects and afforded the protection of British law this did not usurp our Peoples’ sovereignty.

It is important to have cognisance of the fact that being treated as British subjects and afforded protection of British law in no way compromises the continuing sovereignty of Aboriginal Nations and Peoples in Australia.

Another aspect of the continuing sovereignty of Aboriginal Peoples is the fact that Australian governments recognise it. This is evidenced by the fact that when dealing with Aboriginal people all policies and regimes have been directed towards Aboriginal People as a distinct race where special measures have been adopted. Furthermore past Legislation at State and Commonwealth levels have been, at the first instance, about protecting a race of People from the vigilante ‘Settlers’ who sought to clear the land of Aboriginal Inhabitants.

These laws make Australia the only Country in the world where laws were put in place to protect one race of people from another.

In order to afford protection for Aboriginal People it was necessary to set up government Mission Stations where the authorities, not only attempted to “smooth the dying pillow for a dying race” as it was first thought, but the same Mission Stations, both church and government, became prison institutions where the people had no right of freedom of movement or freedom of association and their personal and social welfare was totally dependent upon government appropriated aid.

The most unfortunate thing about these institutions was once you and your family were committed there was never a release date. It wasn’t until much pressure came to bear from foreign countries, who through various UN Committees sought to be informed on the welfare and well-being of Australia’s Aboriginal Inhabitants, that change began. One such country was Ghana in the 1940s.

It is important for the UN and other countries to know that, in respect of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage. There now exists within Australia laws in every State and territory that vest ownership of our cultural heritage to white bureaucrats and Ministers of the Parliaments.

Land title

In Australia the government has interfered with due process and natural justice through the creation of the Native Title Act 1993 and its Amendments through which the government imposed its will upon the independent arbiters of law by interfering with the common law process when determining Aboriginal Peoples’ continuing association with land. Instead of now dealing with the common law rights of Aboriginal Peoples with respect to their Traditional Lands, the government codified and established criteria on how Aboriginal people are expected to prove their continuing association with Country.

By doing this the courts are required to rule on peoples’ access where by Traditional Owners have to demonstrate the exercise of their Customary Practices while living in modern Australia, and all the while knowing that 60% of the Aboriginal population were rounded up by Australian Government authorities and removed from their lands under Government Policies. The fact that our people, in many areas, had no right of freedom of movement made it impossible for Aboriginal Peoples of the southeast states to ever have sufficient customary association with their country and all lands were granted to non-Aboriginal farmers and other landholders. The majority of Aboriginal People who were removed under Government Legislation have not had the ability to return to their homelands since the removal of mission control in 1969 for New South Wales and Queensland in 1977.

In modern Australia we continue to have Government Policies that suppress any ability of Aboriginal People to be self-determining. This can be established by an independent study of all laws relating to Aboriginal advancement within Australia.

It goes without saying that the Northern Territory National Emergency Response is a Martial Law type of rule that governs Aboriginal People in a way that dictates all forms of development, social interaction and economic progress for Aboriginal People in the Northern Territory. Similarly, other States do not fare much better as statistics show that approx 70% of the Aboriginal population is 100% welfare dependent. In this regard Aboriginal People have little ability to work their way out of the impoverished conditions they find themselves in, added to the fact that royalties are controlled by the Australian Government not the people.

Education and vocational training

The Australian Government is constantly promoting the theme of education and employment, but these are very ambitious objectives when one looks at the current state of educational programs in this country. The Australian history Curriculum within the schools does not include government policies towards Aboriginal People and the subsequent effect the policies had on our people, such as Government Mission and Station life. The Australian Education Curriculum does not include why the Government chose to remove children under the ‘Stolen Generation’ regime, nor do they explain why Aboriginal people were imprisoned onto Government and Church Mission Stations. They certainly do not include any topics which deal with the violent confrontations with the free ‘settlers’ and the British militia during the colonial times, whereas massacres are becoming well documented in various recent publications.

In relation to the low achievement rate of Aboriginal People in the Education System, the Australian Government continues to ignore the fact that many Aboriginal People are rejecting the Education System, because it has little or no relevance to their current status in life. This is reflected in low school attendance, absenteeism and the high juvenile crime rate. This converts to civil disobedience in the community where Aboriginal People see themselves as outsiders and not belonging.


Fly-in observations of the Aboriginal situation in Australia cannot do justice to the deeply rooted problems that Aboriginal Nations and Peoples confront daily. In order to understand the dilemmas of Aboriginal People it is absolutely imperative that complete and in-depth studies are conducted on the entrenched racism that is so deeply rooted in the psyche of Australian politics. This racism is reflected in all policies directed at Aboriginal Peoples’ advancement, which is completely underpinned by the governments’ objective for the eventual total assimilation of Aboriginal People. This can only mean ethnocide. Ethnocide is a notion that even the UN refuses to acknowledge. But in order to do justice for Aboriginal People, the main thing the UN can do for us is to make Ethnocide a crime equal to Genocide and ratified by every Nation throughout the world to prevent Australia from refusing to become a party to that convention. There can be no excuse for Ethnocide, just as there is no excuse in law for murder and Genocide.

Treaty negotiations

Attached is an earlier paper entitled: That Word – Treaty. It is important to understand how in Aboriginal society one nation cannot speak for another, whilst it is a practice used in Australia to break up Aboriginal unity.

This is confirmed when we trace back to a letter from the then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Baume, written to the National Aboriginal Conference (NAC) in July 1981 that Aboriginal people cannot be permitted to develop like American Indians with self determination This is the reason why the treaty process was shut down.

Australia does acknowledge, however, that it has never gained the Sovereignty of Aboriginal Peoples and their Nations and in the Mabo case the High Court concedes that the question of Aboriginal Sovereignty belongs to another jurisdiction, i.e. the International Court of Justice.

Nevertheless, the Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin, says she is open to a push for recognition of Indigenous Australians in the Constitution, but she has ruled out a treaty.
"This process is about recognising indigenous people within the Australian Constitution. It is not about a treaty," she told The Australian. [see]

This is despite the fact that in August 2010 the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) recommended treaty negotiations:

15. … Drawing the attention of the State party to the Committee’s general recommendation 23 (1997) on the rights of indigenous peoples, the Committee reiterates its recommendation that the State party increase efforts to ensure a meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and that any measures to amend the Australian Constitution include the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as First Nations Peoples. In this regard, the Committee recommends that the State party consider the negotiation of a treaty agreement to build a constructive and sustained relationship with Indigenous peoples. The Committee also recommends that the State party provide the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples with the adequate resources to become fully operational by January 2011 and support its development.

[Emphasis added -CERD/C/AUS/CO/15-17/CRP.1]

The Federal Government’s proposal to recognise Aboriginal People in the Constitution must not usurp our continuing Sovereignty. The only resolution of the Constitutional issue is by way of negotiated Sovereign Treaties under the supervision of the international community.

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy, on behalf of Aboriginal Sovereign Nations, officially declared our existing Sovereignty in 1992. This notice was first handed to the then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr. Robert Tickner, on the 28 January 1992.

If Australia is a Democracy then the Government must ensure Democratic Principles when dealing with Aboriginal Peoples.

In 1973 a body of Aboriginal People under the 'Whitlam' Government consulted nationally with Aboriginal Peoples. This was known as the 'National Aboriginal Consultative Committee, NACC, which evolved into the National Aboriginal Conference (N.A.C.).

Elders and people worked out that if you want proper representation there are 46 linguistic groups that cover the 500 Aboriginal Nations.

'National Aboriginal Consultative Committee' was elected by Aboriginal people in which 48 000 Aboriginal people voted. On the first ever Aboriginal Electoral Roll, which was developed in six months, there were around 68 000 Aboriginal People, which meant about 70% of the Aboriginal population voted. The NACC received $1 million for this as opposed to the current National Congress of Australia's First Peoples’ 2000 membership of which only 600 voted despite receiving $29 million dollars over 3 years.

This recent Congress clearly has no clear representation of the holistic Aboriginal Community and is just as unrepresentative as the handpicked "Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians" chosen by Government.

It is worth noting that those persons who are seeking to be elected for the ‘National Congress of Australia's First Peoples’ are vetted first by an ethics committee and then have to be approved of by the Minister of Aboriginal affairs.

So much for democratic principles: Aboriginal People do not even get a chance to choose their own representatives.

The government’s hand-picked Indigenous people on this" Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians" must publicly acknowledge that they do not represent the various Aboriginal Nations across this country. Having said this they must personally accept all responsibilities for any deceptive language that complies with the usurpation of Aboriginal Sovereignty. They would be better served to ensure the Australian Government bona fides of statehood and make moves to have treaties negotiated with Aboriginal Nations in a move to ensure Australia becomes a republic in the future.

The second attachment is Aboriginal Sovereignty, Justice, the Law and Land by Kevin Gilbert (1933-1993) which elucidates the veracity of Aboriginal Nations and Peoples claim to continuing sovereignty in Australia.

No effective law against Genocide

Finally, we wish to draw your attention to the fact that Australia has still not fully imported the Genocide Convention into domestic law. Parts of the Genocide Convention were imported into domestic law by way of the International Criminal Court Consequential Amendments Act 2002, but only the Attorney-General can begin a genocide case and if he/she refuses there is no right of appeal and no reasons need to be given. [268.121 – 268.122]. This is contrary to the intent of the long-standing Genocide Convention, which Australia was the third country to sign.

We are requesting that the UN Human Rights Commission strongly recommends that the Australian government imports fully the Genocide Convention into domestic law.

Michael Anderson 24 May 2011

Anderson, Michael, 2010, That Word - Treaty
Gilbert Kevin, 1987, Aboriginal Sovereignty, Justice the Law and Land