BY 9 JULY 2018
Like all colonial societies, Australia has secrets. The way we treat Indigenous people is still mostly a secret. For a long time, the fact that many Australians came from what was called “bad stock” was a secret.
“Bad stock” meant convict forebears: those like my great-great grandmother, Mary Palmer, who was incarcerated here, at the Female Factory in Parramatta in 1823.
According to nonsense spun by numerous aunts – who had irresistible bourgeois ambitions — Mary Palmer and the man she married, Francis McCarthy, were a lady and a gentleman of Victorian property and propriety.
In fact, Mary was the youngest member of a gang of wild young women, mostly Irish, who operated in the East End of London. Known as “The Ruffians”, they kept poverty at bay with the proceeds of prostitution and petty theft.
The Ruffians were eventually arrested and tried, and hanged — except Mary, who was spared because she was pregnant.
She was just 16 years old when she was manacled in the hold of a ship under sail, the Lord Sidmouth, bound for New South Wales “for the term of her natural life”, said the judge.
The voyage took five months, a purgatory of sickness and despair. I know what she looked like because, some years ago, I discovered an extraordinary ritual in St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney.
Every Thursday, in a vestry, a nun would turn the pages of a register of Irish Catholic convicts — and there was Mary, described as “not more than 4ft in height, emaciated and pitted with the ravages of small pox”.
When Mary’s ship docked at Sydney Cove, no one claimed her as a servant or a skivvy. She was a “third class” convict and one of “the inflammable matter of Ireland”. Did her newly born survive the voyage? I don’t know.
They sent her up the Parramatta River to the Female Factory, which had distinguished itself as one of the places where Victorian penal experts were testing their exciting new theories. The treadwheel was introduced in the year Mary arrived, 1823. It was an implement of punishment and torture.
The Cumberland Pilgrim described the Female Factory as “appallingly hideous … the recreation ground reminds one of the Valley of the Shadow of Death”.
Arriving at night, Mary had nothing to sleep on, only boards and stone and straw, and filthy wool full of ticks and spiders. All the women underwent solitary confinement. Their heads were shaved and they were locked in total darkness with the whine of mosquitoes.
There was no division by age or crime. Mary and the other women were called “the intractables”. With a mixture of horror and admiration, the Attorney General at the time, Roger Terry, described how the women had “driven back with a volley of stones and staves” soldiers sent to put down their rebellion. More than once, they breached the sandstone walls and stormed the community of Parramatta. .
Missionaries sent from England to repair the souls of the women were given similar short shrift.
I am so proud of her.
Then there was “courting day”. Once a week, “bereft gentlemen” (whomever they might be) were given first pick, followed by soldiers, then male convicts.
Some of the women found “finery” and primped urgently, as if an inspecting male might provide a way out of their predicament. Others turned their backs should an aspiring mate be an “old stringybark fella” down from the bush.
During all this, the matron would shout out what she called “the good points” of each woman, which was a revelation to all.
In this way, my great-great grandparents met each other. I believe they were well matched.
Francis McCarthy had been transported from Ireland for the crime of “uttering unlawful oaths” against his English landlord. That was the charge leveled at the Tolpuddle Martyrs.
I am so proud of him.
Mary and Francis were married at St Mary’s Church, later St Mary’s Cathedral, on November 9th, 1823, with four other convict couples. Eight years later, they were granted their “ticket of leave” and Mary her “conditional pardon” by one Colonel Snodgrass, the Captain General of New South Wales — the condition being she could never leave the colony.
Mary bore 10 children and they lived out hard lives, loved and respected by all accounts, to their ninetieth year.
My mother knew the secret about Mary and Francis. On her wedding day in 1922, and in defiance of her own family, she and my father came to these walls to pay tribute to Mary and the intractables. She was proud of her “bad stock”.
I sometimes wonder: where is this spirit today? Where is the spirit of the intractables among those who claim to represent us and those of us who accept, in supine silence, the corporate conformity that is characteristic of much of the modern era in so-called developed countries?
Where are those of us prepared to “utter unlawful oaths” and stand up to the authoritarians and charlatans in government, who glorify war and invent foreign enemies and criminalise dissent and who abuse and mistreat vulnerable refugees to these shores and disgracefully call them “illegals”.
Mary Palmer was “illegal”. Francis McCarthy was “illegal”. All the women who survived the Female Factory and fought off authority, were “illegal”.
The memory of their courage and resilience and resistance should be honoured, not traduced, in the way we are today. For only when we recognise the uniqueness of our past — our Indigenous past and our proud convict past — will this nation achieve true independence.
John Pilger gave this address on the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Parramatta Female Factory, Sydney.
Why I hate: this is a Bengali woman carrying a British motherfucker on her back at the height of Empire.
BY T H E P O U G E S
In Manhattan’s desert twilight
In the death of afternoon
We stepped hand in hand on Broadway
Like the first men on the moon.
And “The Blackbird” broke the silence
As you whistled it so sweet.
And in Brendan Behan’s footsteps
I danced up and down the street.
Thousands are sailing
Across the Western Ocean
Where the hand of opportunity
Draws tickets in a lottery.
That some of them will never see.
Their bellies full, their spirits free
They’ll break the chains of poverty
And they’ll dance.
Wherever we go, we celebrate
The land that makes us refugees.
From fear of priests with empty plates
From guilt and weeping effigies
Now we dance to the music
And we dance.
IRISH WAYS (excerpt)
By John Gibbs
Cromwell and his soldiers came,
Started centuries of shame,
But they could not make us turn,
We are a river flowing,
800 years we have been down,
The secret of the water sound
Has kept the spirit of a man
Above the pain descending,
Today the struggle carries on,
I wonder will I live so long
To see the gates been opened up
To a people and their freedom,
To a people and their freedom.
Women from over 150 cities took part in marches to call for an end to the epidemic of violence against women. The marches were organized by the Argentine collective Ni Una Menos, or Not One Less, after a 16-year-old girl was brutally raped and murdered.
Sign reads “66,000 women are killed each year worldwide.”
The increasingly violent attacks by North Dakota police and private security forces against peaceful, Indigenous water protectors have caught the nation’s attention as well as that of the United Nations, an arm of which has begun an investigation into the protesters’ claims of human rights abuses, including “excessive force, unlawful arrests, and mistreatment in jail,” the Guardian reported late Monday.
Observers have begun collecting testimonies from those protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline and, on Monday, Grand Chief Edward John, a Native American member of the U.N. permanent forum on Indigenous issues, met with police officials in Mandan, North Dakota and visited the cages where some of the 141 arrested protesters were held after last week’s military-style police raid.
Those detained at the Morton County Correctional Center said that while they were held in the 10-by-14-foot cages they were forced to wait for basic necessities, such as “access to bathrooms, food, water, and medical attention,” the Guardian reported.
“We embarked upon a peaceful and prayerful campaign,” Standing Rock Sioux member Phyllis Young told the U.N. representatives. “They were placed in cages. They had numbers written on their arms very much like concentration camps.” Young said that the police’s treatment of native people was “not only conditions of colonialism, but conditions of war.”
“The government is allowing the police force to be used as a military force to protect an oil company,” added protester Kandi Mossett, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara nation.
The Morton County Sheriff’s office has also been accused of tracking the activists through a feature on Facebook, a claim which spurred more than one million people worldwide to “check in” to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation on Monday in an attempt to “overwhelm and confuse” law enforcement and express solidarity with the demonstrators.
The fact that a campaign of “intimidation and repression” is being waged on behalf of a private company is not to be overlooked, according to a coalition of environmental groups, which late last week sent a letter (pdf) to the owners of the $3.7 billion tar sands pipeline, reminding them of their “complicity” in the ongoing human rights abuses.
“As joint owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline, you have a corporate duty under international law and the laws of the United States to respect human rights and to avoid complicity in further human rights abuses. It is imperative that you take action to stop the attacks on peaceful occupiers immediately,” states the letter, which is addressed to officials with Energy Transfer Partners, Phillips 66, Enbridge Energy Partners, and Wells Fargo bank.
The violent raid and mass arrest last week “has created a situation of urgency in which the companies must take immediate responsibility for the human rights impacts of their actions, including the companies’ complicity in the actions of others,” the letter continues:
As a matter of international law, your companies have an affirmative responsibility to protect human rights, including the responsibility to: avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts to peaceful protestors through your companies’ own activities; and to seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to your companies’ operations. These responsibilities also apply to banks and other institutions that provide financing for a project that will cause such adverse human rights impacts.
“We emphasize and caution that the active involvement by persons acting under color of governmental authority, including state or local law enforcement, does not absolve your companies of these duties,” it further states.
The signatories, who are leaders with the Center for International Environmental Law, Honor the Earth, Bold Alliance, Climate Justice Programme, EarthRights International, Oil Change International, and Greenpeace USA, note that they “have spent decades advocating and litigating on behalf of Indigenous communities outside the United States,” whose rights are too often “violated by proponents of extractive industries around the world…And we are alarmed that these all-too-familiar patterns are playing out in the United States at Standing Rock.”
Similarly, Roberto Borrero, a Taino tribe member and representative of the International Indian Treaty Council, who is assisting the U.N. in collecting the testimonies, told theGuardian, “When you look at what the international standards are for the treatment of people, and you are in a place like the United States, it’s really astounding to hear some of this testimony.”
International human rights watchdog Amnesty International has also sent a delegation of human rights observers to monitor the police response to the ongoing protests. Meanwhile, the water protectors have vowed to maintain their vigil throughout the winter and continue their resistance as the pipeline construction encroaches upon their sacred land and water.
When the past refuses to stay in the past, it usually heads straight for thepresent. There, it’s easy to spot, because it’s usually causing a racket of some kind. If you order it back, this type of past will appear to comply, but it never departs in good faith. As soon as you’re sure it has finally obeyed, it will show up somewhere else, claiming to be the present.
Maybe it is throwing rocks at a tank in Palestine. Maybe it is an old Jewish man, lighting a candle in Warsaw. Maybe it is a pirate in the Sudan. Maybe it is sneaking across the Mexican border. Maybe it is a 16-year-old gang member aiming a gun at a 15-year-old drug dealer in southwest Chicago.
Or maybe it is a broken heart in Indonesia.
Art and text by Claire O’Brien / 2015
These are bad times for Latin America. With the fall of Brazil’s Rousseff government, the U.S. has broken the back of the Union of South American Nations (Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina), which resisted the dominance of American corporate interests for years. Now, Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution has been kicked in the gut and Argentina has rushed to align itself with Brazil’s right-wing elite. That elite has regained its long-term stranglehold on the country two years after the left-wing Worker’s Party won its fourth straight victory in national elections.
Now, a textbook CIA coup has framed democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff and installed right-wing vice president Michel Temer. When Temer unveiled his new cabinet Thursday it became clear that his government is absolutely hostile to Brazil’s social movements and minority groups. Its 22 white male members include seven ministers who are under investigation for their alleged role in the Petrobras corruption scandal.
Temer reduced the size of the cabinet to 22 ministries, ostensibly in the name of austerity. However, his choice of what ministries to cut requires no interpretation.
Additionally, the Comptroller General, which once enjoyed independent status, has now become the Ministry of Supervision, Transparency and Control, which could affect its ability to investigate alleged corruption.
Temer has already dispatched a delegation to Washington, DC to confer with his delighted bosses.
Brazil’s Big Capital in both nations is sleeping well tonight.
INTRODUCTION BY CLAIRE O’BRIEN
About ten years ago, Homeland Security began creating a vast graveyard in a stretch of the Arizona desert’s most remote and rugged terrain. It did so by focusing so intensely on traditional migrant routes that people crossing from Mexico were forced further and further east. They had to cross where the routes were the roughest, where there are no water resources, no population centers to speak of, and where there are miles and miles to go before there is a ray of hope on the horizon.
Now, at least 7,000 human skeletons lie buried beneath those desert miles. And the U.S, government planned it that way.
It takes a pool of Border Patrol applicants from small towns across the Southwest, in regions with skyrocketing unemployment, failed schools, loss of small farmers, a devastating methamphetamine epidemic, and infant mortality rates higher than those of most developing nations.
Keep pay low, stress high, racism rampant, and “investigations” of agent brutality a joke. Sit back and wait.
The goal of this unilateral war is to force the Palestinians to give up all their national demands in their homeland. Netanyahu wants escalation because experience so far has proved that the periods of calm after the bleeding return us not to the starting line, but rather to a new low in the Palestinian political system, and adds privileges to the Jews in Greater Israel.
Privileges are the chief factor that distorts our understanding of our reality, blinding us. Because of them, we fail to comprehend that even with weak, “present-absent” leadership, the Palestinian people — scattered in its Indian reservations — will not give up and will continue to find the strength necessary to resist our malicious mastership.
The Palestinians are fighting for their lives, in the full sense of the word. We Israeli Jews are fighting for our privilege as a nation of masters, in the full ugliness of the term.
That we notice there’s a war on only when Jews are murdered does not cancel out the fact that Palestinians are being killed all the time, and that all the time we are doing everything in our power to make their lives unbearable. Most of the time it is a unilateral war, waged by us, to get them to say “yes” to the master, thank you very much for keeping us alive in our reservations. When something in the war’s one-sidedness is disturbed, and Jews are murdered, then we pay attention.
kill/#sthash.ueG4CQRI.2OnjZ1Qx.dpufread more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.679129
IDF soldiers are called on to kill Palestinian children. Nothing bad will happen to you, they are told, if you tear the body of a fleeing Palestinian teenager to shreds by firing three bullets at him from short range – your commanders and Yair Lapid will cheer you. Shoot the stone throwers with no fear, shoot anyone suspicious, as long as he is Palestinian.
The rules of engagement are updated accordingly. With the IDF shamelessly issuing licenses to kill signed by the Military Advocate General, what is permitted to the Binyamin Division commander is now permitted to any soldier.
Thus, there is no longer any need to deceive the public with the farce of investigating soldiers charged with executing children.
See more at: http://www.daysofpalestine.com/features/ israeli-army-giving-soldiers-license-
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