Holocaust anniversary acknowledged by Aboriginal community

January 29, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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The Aboriginal Medical Service in Sydney’s Redfern has acknowledged the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Jews from the Auschwitz death camp.

Sol Bellear

Sol Bellear

The service is Australia’s first and largest community-controlled Aboriginal facility of this kind.

Chairman of the Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern, Sol Bellear said Aboriginal Australians have always felt strongly about the injustice wrought on the Jewish community.

“Aboriginal leader William Cooper was advocating for the rights of Jews long before other many Australians – including, to our shame, our government – began to lend support to the Jewish cause,” Mr Bellear said.

“The reason why was simple: William Cooper and many of his contemporaries knew then, just as Aboriginal people still know today, how the sting of persecution and oppression feels.

“That’s why William Cooper began speaking up in the 1930s, and it’s why Aboriginal people today still speak up.”

William Cooper

William Cooper

Israel has repeatedly acknowledged the advocacy of William Cooper, planting trees in his honour on several occasions, including five trees at the Forest of the Martyrs. Mr Cooper has also been immortalized in the Yad VaShem Holocaust Museum.

Mr Bellear acknowledged the importance of the 70th anniversary to all Australians, regardless of their religious or racial background.

“The Liberation of Jewish people from Auschwitz is a very important moment in world history, and the Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern acknowledges its importance not only to our own community, but to the broader Australian community.”

Mr Bellear said Aboriginal Australians, despite never being afforded their own self-determination, had a long history of confronting injustice.

“During the 1960s and 1970s, many Aboriginal people were at the forefront of protests against Apartheid South Africa,” Mr Bellear said. “We fought that fight because injustice against anyone is injustice against everyone.

“Bad things happen when good people stay silent, and the history of Aboriginal people advocating for the oppressed is long and well established, and that’s something for which everyone in the Aboriginal community should be rightly proud.”

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