Australia: Merkel should show support for Aboriginal people

Australian Prime Minister in Berlin: people in distress need advocates (Press Release)

German chancellor Merkel meets with Australien PM Malcolm Turnbull in Berlin. Foto: Cia Pak via UN Photo

According to the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), Chancellor Angela Merkel should use her talks with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Berlin on Monday to inquire about the planned measures to improve the miserable situation of the Aboriginal people on the fifth continent. “The serious situation of the Aboriginal people does not really play a role in world politics, but this is exactly why they are especially dependent on advocates who can speak in their name,” said Yvonne Bangert, the STP’s expert on indigenous peoples, in Göttingen.

“Everyday life of most of the Aboriginal communities is still characterized by serious hardship,” Bangert stated. “On average, they die fifteen years earlier than the non-Aboriginal Australians. Discrimination and racism are part of everyday life – and in the northern part of the continent, apartheid is a bitter reality, thanks to special laws for Aboriginal people. The justice system is not creating justice, and more and more of them are ending up in jail. As a result, the number of Aboriginal people who die in custody has been dramatically high for years.”

The “Treaty Now Movement” – consisting of indigenous Australians and non-indigenous supporters – is fighting for a treaty between the Aboriginal Australians and the state and federal governments. They are hoping for a future that is characterized by more equality, by mutual respect, co-determination, and better economic conditions – an end to the misery. “Unlike in North America or New Zealand, the British colonial powers did not sign any land use agreements with the native inhabitants of Australia,” Bangert stated. “That is why the colonization of Australia is still quite present today.”

The Aboriginal people never gave up the sovereignty over their land or the mineral resources. “They are complaining that ‘white Australia’ is not willing to acknowledge the crimes of the colonial history and the injustice of the present – thus refusing to come to terms with its own history,” the STP’s expert emphasized. It would be necessary to settle the conflict regarding land rights issue, as well as the question of separation of powers. In addition, it would be important to clarify the conditions for the extraction of raw materials, and to establish educational programs for Aboriginal children in remote settlements – in their own language. According to the 2016 census, the Aboriginal people account for about 2.8 percent of Australia’s population.