Tag: Amnesty International
The decision by the Department of Public Prosecutions not to investigate the death of Kwementyaye Briscoe in a police cell in January 2012 is another shocking blight on the justice system and its treatment of Indigenous Australians, writes Monica Morgan of the Amnesty International's Indigenous Rights Program.
Amnesty International welcomes the announcement of a further 12 million dollars for property maintenance across Northern Territory homelands in the State Mini Budget, though remains concerned by the conditions attached to the funding, writes Sarah Marland, the organisation's Indigenous Rights Campaigner Coordinator.
Country Liberal candidate for Stuart Bess Price has fired a broadside at two local representatives of Amnesty International for sticking their noses into Aboriginal business and has threatened to make a formal complaint.
Amnesty also put its foot in it when Secretary General Salil Shetty visited the Utopia region in October last year.
Ms Price's angry reaction follows a series of questions from James Milsom and Rachel Toovey, members of the Alice Springs Action Group of Amnesty International, to explore Ms Price's stance on several issues, mostly about outstations in Central Australia.
"I have some urgent questions for you that I expect to be answered in full by August 9 (tomorrow)," Ms Price emailed them, "so that I can tell my people and all of the people of the Stuart electorate of all ethnicities what your agenda is and why they should speak up for themselves." Photo: Bess Price (standing) on the campaign trail.
"Nor is there evidence to suggest that school attendance correlates with increased performance or improved levels of numeracy and literacy.”
Gems like this from Sarah Marland, Amnesty International’s Campaign Co-ordinator on Indigenous Rights, continue the dumping on Australia in the wake of the one-eyed "fact finding mission" by the organization's Secretary General Salil Shetty at Utopia last month.
All this raises the question: If Amnesty can be so absurdly wrong on issues about which we have first-hand knowledge, how much can we trust their pronouncements about issues we don't? OPINION by ERWIN CHLANDA. Pictured: Mr Shetty at Mosquito Bore, Utopia, last month. Photo courtesy Amnesty International and Chloe Geraghty.
Rosalie Kunoth-Monks told Q&A's national audience on Monday: "We live in absolute poverty."
Do they? At the very least the residents of Utopia have income support in the form of Centrelink benefits.
Does "we" include her and her family?
They have a three bedroom house with airconditioning, according to someone familiar with Utopia, 250 km north-east of Alice Springs.
That person spoke with us after watching Q&A and on the condition of not being named.
Others might be sleeping rough, but sometimes it’s a choice: it's great for accessing the shop, a factor of transport rather than accommodation.
Sometimes camping rough is a necessity due to sorry business. No number of permanent housing will alleviate cultural expectations. Some
people have access to housing on nearby outstations.
A local artist living on a truck was one of the exhibits when Salil Shetty, Secretary-General of Amnesty International, called in on his
one-day fact-finding mission.
But the artist's house on his nearby homeland was a fact not found by Mr Shetty because he wasn't made aware if it, our source suggests.
If he had, perhaps his finding would not have been that "around 500 homeland communities are being left to wither as the Government starves them of essential services". ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Photo: Naronda William Loy, 21, with her daughter Karlishia Raggatt, 1, speak with Amnesty International's Secretary General Salil Shetty, at Mosquito Bore, Utopia, 8 October 2011. Courtesy Amnesty International.
COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA
The instant expert proffering solutions after a one-day visit has long been a figure in the debate about Aboriginal "problems".
But Indian man Salil Shetty, Secretary-General of Amnesty International, of which one has much higher expectations, doing a double act with
Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, provided a new low point last week.
Her confident, dignified demeanor and tireless advocacy, as well as her profile as the actress who played Jedda in that celebrated movie, make Ms Kunoth-Monks (at left) a sought-after spokeswoman on Aboriginal causes.
Her inclusion in the panel of tomorrow's Q&A panel on ABC TV is unsurprising.
Trouble is, what she has to say, on too many occasions doesn't bear close scrutiny.
How does she muster the impertinence of saying, quoted by AAP, that Australia is practising ethnic cleansing?
While the taxpayer is forking out $1b on Aboriginal housing in the NT, as we speak, Ms Kunoth-Monks suggests her country's treatment of Aborigines is akin to Serb forces slaying more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim boys in Srebrenica.
And Mr Shetty chimes in in agreement.
The claim that "around 500 homeland communities are being left to wither as the Government starves them of essential services" is all his own work. Yes, 500.
What he and Ms Kunoth-Monks trotted out was the usual tripe. Lucky for them the media run by people in the state capitals 2000 kms away can't get enough of it.
As our current report and readers' comments show, the outstation movement is a complex issue, after years of debate still undecided, but revolving largely around this question: If a small group of people want to settle in some remote place of their own land, what extent of services – if any – should the taxpayer be providing? In every case a school? A hospital? A police station? Sealed roads?
How many of these outstations have been built, equipped, trashed and abandoned?
Ms Kunoth-Monks' home region of Utopia has had a thriving art industry for a couple of decades.
Where did all that money go?
Nearby TiTree is one of The Centre's most prospective areas for horticulture.
It had and still has major vineyards and other plantations. There is plenty of water and cheap backloading freight to Adelaide.
How many of the unemployed in Ms Kunoth-Monks' communities have worked or are working in these enterprises, constantly hampered by having to bring in labour from interstate, whilst being surrounded by hundreds on the dole?
How many plantations have been started by Ms Kunoth-Monks and the other local elders?
How many cattle are they running in this prime beef producing area?
How many of the men are continuing the proud tradition of Aboriginal stockmen – as workers on surrounding cattle stations, or in their own
enterprises, on the vast stretches of land given to them under landrights?
How come Aboriginal-owned cattle stations in Ms Kunoth-Monks' neighborhood are leased out to white pastoralists?
Where is the citrus plantation that's been on the drawing board at Utopia for the best part of two decades?
Let's see what Q&A makes of all this.
The one-day visit last Saturday by Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, to the Utopia homelands generated the usual round of headlines: conditions are "devastating", comparable to those in the "Third World", policies amount to "ethnic cleansing" (this last from Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, Utopia resident and Barkly Shire President).
What the so-called "fact finding mission" did not do was shed any light on the challenges facing governments and Aboriginal people about the future of the homelands at Utopia and elsewhere. This was done incisively by the outgoing Northern Territory Coordinator General for Remote Services, Bob Beadman (at right), in May of this year. His few pages of analysis provide far more insight into the situation than all of Amnesty's rhetoric, either in Mr Shetty's pronouncements or Amnesty's report, The Land Holds Us, released in August.
Mr Beadman also recommends some immediate (catch-up) steps for governments to take. There's no sign of the Northern Territory Government doing so. Minister for Indigenous Development Malarndirri McCarthy declined to answer the questions put to her by the Alice Springs News. Amnesty also declined to be interviewed by the Alice
However, a spokesperson for Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says her government "respects the rights of Indigenous Australians to live on their traditional lands and acknowledges the profound connection which many Aboriginal people have with their homelands" but "housing investment is currently focussed on larger Indigenous communities where more Indigenous people live and which are faced with poor housing and overcrowding".
And the spokesperson says Canberra has provided to the NT Government $80 million for provision of basic municipal and essential services to homelands in the Northern Territory over the past four years but "future funding from July next year will be discussed with the
Northern Territory Government." KIERAN FINNANE reports.
PHOTO ABOVE: Lenny Jones, 73, and Albert Bailey, 79, Chairperson of Urapuntja Health both from Soapy Bore, speak with Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty. Photo courtesy Amnesty International.
through their Campaigns Director, Andrew Beswick, has made the following
brief statement in response to KIERAN FINNANE's analysis of their report,
The Lands Hold Us. The report criticises changes in government policy,
particularly since the NT Intervention, that have affected Aboriginal
homelands and outstations, especially in the Utopia area.
Says Mr Beswick:-
As a human rights organisation, our role is to point out where
government policies fall short of the international human rights
standards they have committed to uphold. Unsurprisingly then,
we are looking at the future of the more than 500 homeland and other
smaller Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, through that
Governments are the ones that are predominantly responsible for
making sure our human rights are fulfilled. And it is this
notion of accountability, along with these international standards, that
inform our recommendations for government action in our report ‘The land holds us’: Aboriginal peoples’ right to traditional homelands in the Northern Territory.
Rather than the “victim status” we have been accused of assigning to
Aboriginal peoples, we advocate strongly for the right to free, prior
and informed consent to be respected and provide a platform for the
powerful voices of those directly affected by these government policies
in our campaign.