A few days ago, I published a very controversial tweet about Australia and human rights. Obviously it prompted a lot of negative backlash.
In this blog post, I will explain the intentions and purpose of this tweet.
The first point I will make it that in no way do I endorse the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) nor do I want to downplay the enormous scale of human rights abuses committed by the regime there.
Another point I wish to stress is that the scale of human rights abuses in the KSA is greater than that of Australia.
The ‘same level’ that I refer to is about gross human rights abusers. While some countries have worse human rights records, such as the KSA, others, such as Australia, also have and continue to commit gross human rights with little to no impunity.
Yet Australia, for all its advancements, such as being a secular democracy with many freedoms, has committed some serious human rights abuses. Furthermore, there are groups within Australia that aim to demean its record further by promoting dangerous ideas.
For the record, I do not hate Australia as a whole or all the people within it. Rather, like many people, both Australian and non-Australian, I see this country as having some very serious problems that need to be discussed in order to start resolving them.
I hope this post, however faulty it may appear to some, incites debate.
The human rights abuses perpetrated by Australian governments past and present, Labor and Liberal, are as follows:
Systemic violence and ongoing genocide of the First Nations in Australia which has resulted in (no particular order)
- Abnormally high suicide rates
- ‘The gap‘
- Ongoing Northern Territory ‘Intervention’
- Forced closures of remote aboriginal communities
- Continued disproportionate forced removal of children from their families
- Over-represented prison population (including police brutality, substandard conditions and deaths in custody)
- No treaty with any of the indigenous population, meaning sovereignty was never ceded and that Australia is technically occupied
- Lack of proper recognition of the Frontier Wars
Abuse and torture of asylum seekers
Involvement with Australia’s allies in perpetrating crimes against humanity overseas
- West Papua (Brief background)
– Australian governments since 1965 continues to supply military aid to Indonesia and has remained very quiet on the ongoing genocide in West Papua
– Training Indonesian ‘death squads’
- Supporting the oppression of Palestinians
– There are many human rights abusers on both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Yet between these two sides, the greatest atrocities are committed by the Israeli government and the IDF. This being said, while pressure should be placed on abusers of both sides, more pressure needs to be put on Israel, since it is the occupier and thus perpetrator of most of the conflicts and atrocities.
– Australia is a staunch supporter of Israel. Yet, Australian governments have remained uneasily silent on most of the atrocities committed against the Palestinian people.
- Invasion of Iraq in 2003
– Under then prime minister John Howard, Australia, along with many NATO countries, invaded Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 2003. However, while Saddam was a monstrous dictator, the invasion that toppled him, as the Chilcot report discovered, was built on the false pretense of the existence of weapons of mass destruction.
– As a result of the US-led invasion of Iraq, the situation there dramatically worsened.
- Gross economic inequality
– Another issue that Oxfam has documented is the gross inequality in Australia. As this report highlights, gross income inequality is not an accident. Rather, it is the design of a neoliberal system that benefits the extremely wealthy while limiting opportunities for the most disadvantaged people in Australia.
WHY DON’T I LEAVE?
A question a lot of people may be asking is “If you hate Australia so much, why don’t you leave?”
The answers are basic and practical:
- I currently lack the resources to move elsewhere.
- Australia still has many opportunities to improve rectify its human rights situation.
- Australia’s freedom of speech means I’m able to criticism the government, something I wouldn’t be able to do in a country such as the KSA.
Australia, despite being a secular democracy and first-world country, is guilty of perpetrating and assisting crimes against humanity.
Still, there is hope.
There are a number of organizations within Australia that are fighting for human rights.
Here’s a quick list of personal favorites (no particular order):