Aborigines do not mourn; Elizabeth ‘figurehead of oppression’


NOS News

  • Meike Wijers

    correspondent Australia

  • Meike Wijers

    correspondent Australia

Based on the Australian media, the conclusion is that the entire population is in deep mourning over the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The news of the death of the head of state is minutely updated in all newspapers, on TV channels and on the radio. The government of the Albanian prime minister does not leave much room for a critical discussion of the monarchy.

People are less royalist on the street and on social media. The Aboriginal population in particular does not mourn the death of the head of state. This group has a complex relationship with the royal family. Some Aboriginal people have fond memories of Elizabeth, for others she is the epitome of British imperialism that robbed them of their land. That the Aboriginal flag was also flown at half-mast is too far for many people.

“You can’t expect Aboriginal people to celebrate the Queen’s life and be sad,” says Sandy O’Sullivan, a professor of indigenous studies at Macquarie University in Sydney. Although the British crown, like the Dutch royal family, is not responsible for the policies of the Despite government, O’Sullivan believes that the queen had a personal and active role in an oppressive system: “Under her watch, terrible crimes have been committed against the indigenous peoples in this country. The Queen is not just a figurehead or mere bystander of colonization and oppression, she has actively perpetuated the system.”

O’Sullivan is descended from the original inhabitants of the Wiradjuri tribe. The blind acceptance of King Charles III calls O’Sullivan into question. “This is not about the death of one person. It’s about her position, the role she played. And that place was immediately taken over by someone else.”

Murder and oppression

Australia has a bloody colonial history. Since the arrival of the British more than 230 years ago, indigenous peoples have been massacred, discriminated against and oppressed. The settlers decided that Australia was ‘terra nullius’: no ​​man’s land. Therefore, no treaty was made with the indigenous population.

This population group is still vulnerable today. Until the 1970s, there was a deliberately racist government policy. The ‘White Australia Policy’ aimed to give the country as white and western an identity as possible. In the name of this policy, around one hundred thousand Aboriginal children were taken from their parents between 1910 and 1970 and placed in homes or with white families. The children went down in history as ‘the stolen generations’.

In 2008, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally apologized for the suffering caused to indigenous peoples. “But the Queen has never apologised. She has never admitted that her empire was built over our backs,” O’Sullivan said. The criticism on Twitter cost O’Sullivan dear. “I have been shocked by the thousands of racist and hateful reactions. I have received threats of death and violence.”

Criticism of the Republicans

More anti-monarchist voices can be heard on social media, although critics are quickly portrayed as ‘disrespectful’. Adam Bandt, leader of the Australian Green Party, wrote on Twitter that Australia should look forward. “First there must be a treaty with the aborigines and then we must become a republic.” He was bombarded with criticism. Prime Minister Albanian, who has advocated a republic in recent years, says “now is not the time to get political”.

This Thursday is a national holiday in Australia in memory of the Queen. A minute’s silence is then observed. “The British Empire declared war on the indigenous people of this country. It led to massive massacres. And you want me to be quiet for a minute now for the Crown?”, Bandt’s Aboriginal party colleague Lidia Thorpe wrote in an op-ed in the Guardian Australia.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, the desire to abolish the monarchy is much less prominent. This is partly due to the fact that the original population entered into a treaty with the British as early as 1840. In 1995, Queen Elizabeth apologized for the injustices colonialism had committed against Maori. There was also a compensation payment of more than one hundred million euros.

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