human rights news & views

A choice between race and rights

On Human Rights Day this year, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission continued its tradition of hosting an oration in Melbourne.  This year's guest speaker was award-winning journalist, author and political and social commentator David Marr and his topic: "Does Australia really give a damn about rights?" In a delightful coincidence, Federation Square […]

Yorta Yorta elder a hero of the Jews

Australia has a human rights defender on a par with Raoul Wallenberg and Oskar Schindler for his stance against Nazi Germany, yet William Cooper is little known in Australia today. Appalled by the vicious carnage of Kristallnacht, the watershed pogrom of November 1938, Aboriginal leader Bill Cooper (right) led a protest walk from his home […]

Calls to boycott this other apartheid

When people like Desmond Tutu describe the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories as apartheid, it's not mere hyperbole. Israel's self-proclaimed 'policy of separation' seeks to segregate Palestinians and Jews in the West Bank, writes Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard. Apartheid is an Afrikaans word meaning literally, separateness.  It's hard to see how Israel's policy […]

Indigenous ‘nomad’ died in custody

Amnesty International called it "shocking and preventable."  On 27 January 2008, Australian indigenous leader and land rights activist Ian Ward — "one of the last nomads born in the Gibson Desert" — died in custody. The Warburton man was being driven 915km from Laverton in the Western Desert to Kalgoorlie for a mention in relation […]

‘All that my life had brought me to be’

Forty-five years ago, this is how Martin Luther King spent Easter (an excerpt from his autobiography): [O]n April 10 . . . the city government obtained a court injunction directing us to cease our activities . . . [W]e did an audacious thing, something we had never done in any other crusade. We disobeyed a […]

Pay compensation, Australia

Debate continues as to whether a national apology to the Stolen Generations will expose the government to compensation claims by survivors.  Or whether wording the apology in a certain way can limit that exposure (as the government claims).  Surely, this is to miss the point.  If compensation is owed, it should be paid.  Justice demands […]

Australia awaits apology

Australia awaits with anticipation next week’s long-overdue apology to the survivors of the Stolen Generations, their families and descendants.  This landmark step towards reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians is something the previous Prime Minister, John Howard — that formidable opponent of human rights — conspicuously failed to do, despite the 1997 Bringing Them Home […]

One man’s stand

In the US, it’s a word so offensive that white people, at least, only ever refer to it as the ‘N’ word. In that peculiar vein of Australian humour (where your best mate is a bastard and a mongrel), a blond, white footballer Edward Stanley Brown was nicknamed ‘Nigger’ and that word is emblazoned on […]