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The BBC's Red Harrison in Sydney
"The children have become known as the stolen generation"
 real 28k

Sunday, 2 April, 2000, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Aborigines target Olympics
Aborigines
Aborigines are threatening to disrupt the Olmpics
Leaders of Aboriginal groups in Australia are threatening to disrupt the Olympic Games in Sydney to draw international attention to their plight.

Aborigines are outraged at a government report, which suggests that the harmful effects of removing Aboriginal children from their parents have been exaggerated.

The children are known as the "stolen generation".

Conflict

However, a government submission to a senate inquiry says that no more than 10% of children were separated from their families, which it claims is hardly a generation.

Aboriginal people will rise up in this country and show the world how racist Australia is

Lyall Munro, Olympic protest campaign delegate
Charles Perkins, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission director and also a "stolen generation" child said the government claims would force direct conflict between white and black Australians.

"Certainly the Olympic Games will now be in jeopardy," he said.

"We did not want to target the Games, but we have nothing to lose now. We have racism at the highest level of government now, destroying the relationship between the whites and the blacks," he said.

More than 100 Aborginal land councils in New South Wales, which is hosting the Sydney Olympics, have voted to hold protest marches on 16 September, the day the Olympics start.

"Aboriginal people will rise up in this country and show the world how racist Australia is," said Lyall Munro, an Olympic protest campaign delegate to the Metropolitan Land Council.

Regrets

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, John Herron, said he regrets the hardship that separation must have caused, but has ruled out any expectations that they government would pay thousands of millions of dollars in compensation.

Some Aboriginal leaders say that the Australian government's attitude is like saying that the Nazi Holocaust did not happen.


Aborigine woman
Prime Minister John Howard has refused to apologise for the Aborigine's plight
But Family and Community Affairs Minister Jocelyn Newman rejected such claims, saying that Mr Herron was simply presenting the facts to rebut exaggerated claims against the government.

"People using the Holocaust for comparison, I think it's disgraceful," she said.

She said any protests by Aborigines during the Olympics would merely hurt Australia's international image.

"They can do it but do you think it's fair to Australia to do that to its image?" she said.

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard has persistently refused to apologise for what is now regarded as a misguided policy aimed at assimilating Aborigines into the white population.

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See also:

25 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Australia rejects UN racism report
28 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
Australia scraps reconciliation deadline
04 Aug 99 | Asia-Pacific
High level of trauma among Aborigines
08 Nov 99 | Asia-Pacific
'Social divisions will continue'
26 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Royal aborigine apology urged
06 Nov 99 | Asia-Pacific
No official recognition for Aborigines
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