#AusUPR20: One of my favourite pieces of literature on the history and current abuse of Australia’s First Nations people is titled “Genocide in Australia” by Nathan Sentence and is stored at the Australian Museum. 1/38
According to Sentence, the word “genocide” originated from the Polish lawyer RaphĂ€el Lemkin in 1942 in response to the Nazi policies of systematic murder of Jewish people during the Holocaust and history’s previously related atrocities. 2/38
According to the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1951, genocide is defined as ANY of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: 3/38
A. Killing members of the group;
B. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
C. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; 4/38
D. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
E. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. 5/38
In his piece Sentence examined Australia’s history and found several ways that the definition of genocide fits the Australian Government’s treatment of First Nations people. Firstly, regarding ‘the killing members of the group’, 6/38
Research has identified at least 270 massacres over 140 years, as part of systematic state-sanctioned attempts to eradicate First Nations people. This figure only includes documented cases. There were many massacres that were not documented and covered up. 7/38
This form of genocide resulted in the population of First Nations people reducing from an estimated 1-1.5 million at the time of invasion to less than 100,000 by the early 1900s and now approximately 799,000 today. 8/38
Australia’s state-sanctioned physical violence has not ended in history. According to the 2021 Human Rights Watch World Report, Australia’s global reputation on human rights suffers. Australia has failed to address its longstanding abuse against First Nations people. 9/38
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are significantly overrepresented in the criminal justice system, making up 29% percent of the adult prison population, but just 3% of Australia’s population. In 2020 at least seven Indigenous people died in Australian custody. 10/38
This report notes reducing incarceration requires systemic reforms: repealing punitive bail and mandatory sentencing laws, decriminalising public drunkenness, ending over-policing of Indigenous communities, and raising the criminal responsibility age from 10 to at least 14. 11/38
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