Monday, 17 August 2009

VISIT TO AUSTRALIA: UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS RAPPORTEUR PROFESSOR JAMES ANAYA - UPDATE 2

Miss Eagle has been fortunate over the past few weeks to be part of a group of, initially, fifteen people who came together and began a letter writing campaign addressed to Professor S. James Anaya. For details about Prof Anaya and his visit to Australia please see the previous post. The letter has travelled far and wide. It has been translated into language in Norothern Territory Aboriginal communties. It travelled to the recent Garma Festival where Yolgnu elders signed it. There have been letters emailed to Geneva in Switzerland.

The response and assistance has been absolutely fantastic and the campaign group express their heartfelt thanks to one & all.


Professor S. James Anaya
for bio see previous post.
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here is the cover note that is being delivered with the letters
RDA

PO Box 281

East Melbourne 8002

16 August 2009

Dear Professor Anaya,

The attached letters contain signatures of three thousand Australians who have genuine concerns

about human rights in this country.

You will be aware from the few emails you have received that the letters have been signed by a cross section of the Australian community, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, individuals, small community organisations and larger ones.

A number of senior church leaders have joined parishioners and social justice groups to express their frustration at the growing control being exerted over the lives of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. The failure to negotiate directly with Aboriginal people, regarding appropriate ways of addressing social problems that are the result of many decades of government neglect, is creating an environment of disillusionment and despair.

There is a strong belief that now the government has indicated its intention to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act, that the time has arrived to engage in genuine negotiation with Aboriginal people from all nations in line with Article 23 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is also time to cease coercive attempts to regain control over land through lease arrangements and discard policies that seek to undermine rights of those Aboriginal people who seek to remain a distinctive peoples living traditional lives on homelands.

Those who have added their signatures to these letters appreciate that the Australian Government has given support to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and look to the UN to ensure that the obligations under the Declaration will be fulfilled.

During your travels over the next two weeks we hope you will remember that people from every state share the concerns that are indicated above, and particularly when you are in the Northern Territory know that these letters contain the names of people from Darwin, Bagot Community, Larrakeyah, Alice Springs, Katherine , Yirrkala , Yuendumu, Nhulunbuy, Lajamanu, Milingimbi, Eva Valley, Beswick, Oenpelli, Barunga, Numbulwar, Groote Eyelandt, Nganmarriyanga, Peppimenarti, Gapuwiyak, Yilpara, Gove, Yarralin, Bulman, Black Tank, Batchelor, Ski Beach, Ngukurr, Dhalinubuy, Tenant Creek, Ramingining, Galiwin’ku, Kintore, Utopia and Willowra.

Kind Regards,

Michele Harris

On behalf of concerned Australians


~~~~~~~~~

Here is the Media Release

issued this morning

17August 2009

MEDIA RELEASE

UN Official to Report

on Aboriginal Human Rights

Prof. James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Human Rights is visiting various centres in Australia over the next two weeks. His task will be to report back to the UN.

Several thousand Aboriginal people from across the Northern Territory and other parts of Australia, indigenous organizations, church leaders and local parishes, community and church social justice groups, Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) and other organisations, as well as many ordinary citizens have signed a letter to the UN Special Rapporteur.

The visit coincides with Government efforts to convince Aboriginal communities through a flawed consultation process, that special measures to restrict their human rights are acceptable.

The letter requests Prof Anaya to:

  • encourage the Australian Government to respect and recognise the views of all Aboriginal people through new and genuine negotiation with Aboriginal elders
  • insist that human rights principles as outlined in the UN Convention against Racial Discrimination be applied
  • encourage the Government to re-instate the Racial Discrimination Act without discriminatory “special measures”.

The letter notes that the existing “special measures” were imposed and are overtly discriminatory and would have been illegal had the Racial Discrimination Act not been suspended. It notes further that the Government should provide choice to individuals and communities, including the choice to accept or reject any or all of the special measures.

In June this year the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission asked for the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to negotiate agreements with governments. “We are united against the NT Intervention in its current form”

Irene Fisher, CEO at Sunrise Health Services in Katherine NT catering to 3500 Aboriginal people in surrounding communities said, “Current measures under the Intervention are discriminatory and are contributing to widening the gap not closing it or reducing disadvantage”

Janet Hunt, president of ANTaR stated that, “Whilst ANTaR urges the Federal and NT governments to address the serious problems in the Northern Territory, we believe that the strategies that work will be ones which respect Indigenous people and engage in genuine and empowering partnerships with them. Current, belated efforts to make the NT Intervention legislation conform to the Racial Discrimination Act do not reflect this approach."

A small group of concerned Australians in Melbourne have organized signatures for the letter to Prof Anaya. Their spokesperson, Michele Harris said that the visit provides a great opportunity for the Government to eliminate legal discrimination against the Aboriginal community while demonstrating its intention to abide by the principles of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for which it declared public support only four months ago.

Signatories to the letter come from every state and territory of Australia, and from the Northern Territory they include signatures from people in Darwin, Bagot Community, Larrakeyah, Alice Springs, Katherine , Yirrkala , Yuendumu, Nhulunbuy, Lajamanu, Milingimbi, Eva Valley, Beswick, Oenpelli, Barunga, Numbulwar, Groote Eyelandt, Nganmarriyanga, Peppimenarti, Gapuwiyak, Yilpara, Gove, Yarralin, Bulman, Black Tank, Batchelor, Ski Beach, Ngukurr, Dhalinubuy,Ramingining, Galiwin’ku, Kintore, Utopia and Willowra.

~~~~~~


Please note

If you wish to send the letter

it will be published in the next post.

You can then forward hard copy

to the post office box for RDA

listed in this post

or

send it to the email address

which was given at the bottom

of the press release in the previous post.

Any problems, please email

misseaglesnetwork(at)gmail(dot)com


MissEagle
racism-free
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