Sunday, February 10, 2008

saying sorry

Marcia Langton imagines what might be said next Wednesday:
If I were to find just a few words, then I think something like the following, at the very minimum, must be said:

There are no words that could heal the wounds of those people who were taken from their families by the Commonwealth and other Australian governments with no reason other than to deny them their Aboriginal legacy and hence the future of Aboriginal society. But those people who lived through such crimes against humanity demand an apology. They are right to demand an apology, because there can be no justification for those heinous policies. And so it is incumbent on the Commonwealth to apologise; to say, as the Prime Minister of Australia, on behalf of all Australians: I am sorry. I am sorry that you have suffered. I am sorry that your families have suffered. I am sorry because your suffering has diminished us as citizens of a nation that claims to be a Commonwealth, a government for the well being of all.Those who have departed this life in the several generations affected by these policies are remembered, and as Prime Minister of Australia, on behalf of Australians, say: I offer this apology to their descendants: I am sorry for what happened to your ancestors and that such a terrible burden has befallen you; the denial of your family and cultural legacy is a terrible loss.

The nation would be healed if we could consign this history to our past by admitting that it was wrong to take children from their families in order to prevent Aboriginal ways of life and traditions from continuing. I ask that all Australians understand this part of our history and recognise that such terrible wrongs must never be repeated
- Even the hard men know, it must be said

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