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Date: Fri, 30 May 97 09:20:34 CDT
From: Marpessa Kupendua <nattyreb@ix.netcom.com>
Subject: !*OZ: Aborigine Families Recount Seizures

Aborigine Families Recount Seizures

By Alan Thornhill,
in the Philadelphia Daily News
28 April 1997

Associated Press - Aborigines living in Australia's remote northwest deserts used to smear their light-skinned children with charcoal, hoping to keep state welfare agents from taking them away.

"The welfare just grabbed you when they found you," one of the stolen children reported, many years later. "Our people would hide us, paint us with charcoal."

The ploy rarely worked. "I was taken to Moola Bulla," said one cattler worker who was stolen as a child. "We were about 5 or 6 years old."

His tale was one of thousands heard by Australia's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission during its heart-wrenching inquiry into the "stolen generation." From 1910 until the 1970s, some 100,000 aboriginal children were taken from their parents under the misguided belief that Aborigines were doomed and saving the children was the only humane alternative. Light-skinned aboriginal children were seized and handed out to white families for adoption. Dark-skinned children were put in orphanages.

Even now, the pain is so great that most stories were printed anonymously in the commission's final report, "Bringing Them Home." The commission says the actions of the authorities at that time amounted to genocide as the United Nations defines it. The government has refused to follow the inquiry's recommendation that a tribunal be set up to assess compensation payments for the stolen children.