My Feelings on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Apology to Australia’s Stolen Generations

My Feelings on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Apology to Australia’s Stolen Generations

Today, the 13th of February 2008, is National Reconciliation Day. This is truly a historic day for Australia. The Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. Kevin Rudd, by addressing his unconditional apology to the “people of oldest continuing cultures in human history” in Parliament, has today honoured the Aboriginal people of Australia from all generations.

I listened to Mr. Rudd’s speech live with my dad at home on TV. It was such a moving speech that we couldn’t help but give our undivided attention to it. I am not an Australian; nor do I have a very in-depth knowledge of the pain and suffering the Aboriginal people endured over the last hundred years in this ancient country. But after listening to the prime minister’s historic speech, I felt that it really doesn’t take a specialist in Australian history to figure out that a sincere apology to the Aboriginal people at a national level has long been overdue. Mr. Rudd’s apology was given to the Aboriginal people of Australia in a very befitting manner, in a very passionate manner, and above all, in a very sincere manner…….so sincere that it brought me into tears. For a few seconds, I placed myself in the shoes of the Stolen Generations who had the misfortune of enduring the unspeakable torture and pain of being forcefully separated from their mothers and fathers in the name of “good intentions”. I could not stop my tears. I simply couldn’t.

It takes a real man, a real leader to come forward and acknowledge the injustices committed to the Indigenous people by past generations and saying sorry. My heartfelt congratulations go out to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for being an honest leader who has the full integrity and courage to do the right thing.

I don’t know why, but all of a sudden, the words of the late US Senator Robert Kennedy come to my mind and I would like to dedicate his words to Kevin Rudd’s government and more importantly, to Australia. He uttered these words seconds before he was shot to death in 1968. He said and I quote, “We are a great country and we are a compassionate country.” Today, Australia has indeed proven herself to be a great country and a compassionate country by formally acknowledging the past injustices that were inflicted on their native people and outlining the steps she will take for true reconciliation.

Shafquat Zaman Khan
February 13, 2008

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