Victims describe acts of racism in England, Australia and the US

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- Victims of gross human rights abuses in England, Australia and the United States have added their voices to a special forum being held as part of the World Conference Against Racism in Durban.
Ironically, a day after the US called its delegation home, the forum featured a uniquely American voice and a story of racial discrimination that lingers in the US.
Sarah White, a former worker at a catfish factory in Indianoloa, Mississippi, told the audience that after years of abuse and suffering at the hands of her white employers, she helped organise a union at the her company, Delta Pride, and transformed the workplace into one where workers are treated with respect.
"There are many companies today that still try to practice a racist plantation mentality on Black workers.
But if you believe in the dream, and stand tall and fight for freedom, we can overcome racism.
"I am here to tell you that 15 years ago we were oppressed, degraded and humiliated, but today we are proud Black beautiful women who will never tolerate that type of abuse again", she said to a thunderous applause.
White is now a representative for the Commercial Workers Union and represents a workforce that is 90 percent African- American women, most of whom are single heads of household.
Ashid Ali, a Bangladeshi school teacher from Oldham in England, described the humiliation he and other Asians endured while growing up in the United Kingdom and how they found themselves at the centre of vicious race riots which broke out in the city in July.
"Ever since I can remember, tension between whites and Asians has always been in Oldham.
And, ever since I can remember, the police have been part of the tension, rather than the solution.
"I remember the days when we couldn't play football in the local park without often being chased with dogs or stoned by white youths.
When the police would come, they would scream 'you Pakis, you Black bastards'.
This still happens today", he said.
Monica Morgan, an indigenous member of the Yorta Yorta people in south-eastern Australia, told the forum that aborigines have struggled to survive the attempt at genocide by all the instruments of oppression made possible by the colonisers who held a "self-righteous, ethnocentric, possessive and controlled view of the world".
"The suppression of Yorta Yorta people as with other indigenous peoples within Australia, occurred by way of massacres, poisoned water holes, introduced diseases, dispersal, the abduction and systematic torture of women and children.
"These and many more acts of violence led to the great land theft by the early colonisers and this theft is today entrenched within Australian law," she said.
She said her people now live in a state of trauma, as a result of the collective effects of racism for over 200 years.
These moving accounts were told to a panel of UN officials, including UN Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover.
On the final day of the Voices Special Forum, High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson will receive a statement from the 21 people who testified, making their statements part of the official proceedings at the conference.
Seen together, these personal stories paint a larger picture of racial discrimination in the 21st century.

05 september 2001 08:15:00

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