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Aborigines and the PM..

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    http://news.excite.com/news/ap/000511/03/int-australia-reconciliation PM Rewrites Australian Document Updated 3:03 AM ET May 11, 2000 By ROHAN SULLIVAN,
    Message 1 of 1 , May 11, 2000
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      http://news.excite.com/news/ap/000511/03/int-australia-reconciliation

      PM Rewrites Australian Document


      Updated 3:03 AM ET May 11, 2000


      By ROHAN SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writer
      SYDNEY, Australia (AP) - Prime Minister John Howard rejected an
      official statement of reconciliation between black and white
      Australians today, angering Aborigines and throwing into doubt the
      success of a historic ceremony later this month.

      Howard again refused to offer an official apology to Australia's
      indigenous people for past injustices, and rewrote an official
      declaration of reconciliation penned by a multi-race consultative
      council.

      The government-appointed Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation on
      Wednesday released its long-awaited reconciliation document, which
      will be officially handed to the government at a two-day ceremony May
      27-28 in Sydney.

      The event - named Corroborree 2000 after an Aboriginal word for
      ceremony - will culminate 10 years of work by the council to map
      Australia's path to reconciliation by the centenary of federation on
      Jan. 1, 2001.

      But Howard today rejected key aspects of the document, in particular a
      paragraph that reads: "As we walk the journey of healing, one part of
      the nation apologizes and expresses its sorrow and sincere regret for
      the injustices of the past, so the other part accepts the apologies
      and forgives."

      While recognizing there have been past injustices against Aborigines,
      Howard argues there should be no "cross-generational" guilt, and has
      refused to apologize on behalf of all Australians.

      "I am not willing to apologize for things my government and my
      generation didn't do," Howard said last week.

      In Howard's alternative reconciliation document, released today, the
      apology is replaced with the phrase, "Australians express their
      sorrow and profoundly regret the injustices of the past" against
      Aborigines.

      Numbering some 530,000 in a mostly white population of 19 million,
      Aborigines are Australia's poorest and most disadvantaged minority,
      with a life expectancy 20 years shorter than whites and the nation's
      highest rates of preventable diseases.

      The government and Aborigines have been in a long-running battle over
      land rights and an apology to thousands of Aborigines who were
      forcibly removed from their families as children under past
      government policies in the belief that Aborigines were a dying race.

      Aboriginal leaders warned today that the Corroborree 2000 event will
      be marred by protests unless Howard endorses the council's document.

      Most Australians support reconciliation, and Corroborree 2000 is
      expected to attract thousands of people to the steps of the Sydney
      Opera House and to a march across the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

      "Without this apology, there can be no real reconciliation, and the
      conscience of the nation will never rest in peace," said one leader,
      Charles Perkins.

      He said Howard's "audacity" in rewriting the council's document
      showed a lack of compassion and was deceitful.

      Another leader, former reconciliation council chairman Pat Dodson,
      said the council's document must be accepted by the government and
      written into law.

      "If there is no real acceptance by the prime minister of the
      document ...
      then it will become meaningless within a very short space of time,"
      Dodson said
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