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Australia: Map spotlights sites of genocide against aboriginal peoples

AN ONLINE map detailing the genocide of Aboriginal Australians by white settlers was launched yesterday.

The tool, developed by researchers at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, records more than 150 massacres, specifying the sites where killings took place, how many people were murdered, what weapons were used to kill them and who was responsible.

Professor Lyndall Ryan, who developed the resource, said: “Most massacres took place in secret and were designed not to be discovered, so finding evidence of them is a major challenge.”

She told Australian media that she and her team used “settler diaries, newspaper reports, aboriginal evidence and archives from state and federal repositories” to discover and corroborate claimed incidents.

They defined a massacre as the “indiscriminate killing of six or more undefended people,” and traced such events from settlement in 1788 until 1872.

While other online maps have been launched, Prof Ryan says this is the first that details sources and evidence as well as the only “coherent list of frontier massacres spanning 80 years.” As yet, Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland have been carefully documented but more work is needed on other states.

Prof Ryan said she hopes the research will spur an understanding of the genocide and prompt memorial monuments similar to those erected for Australians killed in wars.

A major summit of indigenous people at Uluru in May called for formal representation of Aboriginal Australians in parliament and work towards a treaty specifying their rights.

The Communist Party of Australia argued yesterday that the new tool should encourage progress towards that goal.

True equality required “acknowledgement of history: basically a policy of genocide has been followed,” the party reasoned in an editorial in its Guardian newspaper. That was followed by “assimilation” — an attempt to “eliminate 60,000 years of culture,” it charged.

Both policies sought to wipe out Aboriginal Australians as a people.

“What is needed is ... recognition of aboriginal rights as a national minority in Australia, and above all their right to land so that there is work for young aboriginal men and women.”

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