During the country’s colonial period, the indigenous people in Australia were subjected to mass killings because of European interests. This account of genocide is clearly identifiable by the immense number of casualties, yet other instances of genocide occur under the public radar. According to the 1948 definition of genocide, which includes other elements beyond mass murder, it is accurate to support the idea that genocide against Aboriginal Australians has continued into the 20th and 21st centuries.
In 1948, The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide established a concrete definition for what actually constitutes genocide. This fundamental aspect used to qualify genocide is the condition that an action is intended to destroy a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group. The emphasis of the 1948 definition is that it specifies those qualifying actions. Besides the most obvious method of physical killing, genocide can occur through other methods such as mental harm, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions favorable for the destruction of their way of life, proposing measure to prevent births, or forcibly transferring children from one group to another. These criteria validate the stance that the modern day treatment of Aboriginal Australians constitutes genocide.
Though the mass murders of the colonial period may have decreased or ceased, cultural genocide is a major supporter to the idea that genocide has continued in Australia. While this act may not involve the physical killing of people, it does signify measures taken to eliminate the culture that defines a people. In his article Australia: a continuing genocide? author Damien Short notes that this process of cultural genocide takes place in two steps (47). First, the normal way of life for the oppressed group – in this case the Aboriginals of Australia – is interrupted and destroyed. (GIVE AN EXAMPLE) Preventing cultural expressions is one method of destroying a people’s culture, but simply ignoring customs can prove equally as detrimental. For example, in a media press release, Aboriginal leader Barbara Shaw speaks of the spiritual and emotional repercussions she witnessed in response to the disregard for the indigenous culture (“Rollback the Intervention”). After the natural pattern of the oppressed people has been eliminated, it is then replaced by the oppressing group’s way of life. In Rabbit-Proof Fence, the Aboriginal children are mandated to speak only English, showing both the elimination of their native tongue and the implementation of the colonizing country’s communication.
Cultural genocide is such a major component concerning modern day genocide in Australia, because many of the oppressors feel justified in their destruction of Aboriginal culture. As has been the case in the colonization of lands across the globe, the non-natives feel it their responsibility to advance the indigenous people, whether they like it or not. Persisting against the...