BLACK SLAVES AND WHITE BRUTES

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BLACK SLAVES AND WHITE BRUTES

SIR JOHN FORREST DEFENDS THE CHAINS.

INHUMAN WHITE SAVAGERY.

The Melbourne “Age”, dealing with the standing scandal connected with the mockery of “protection” of the aborigines as administered in this State, says:-“Since we drew atten- tion a fortnight ago to the inhuman treatment of the Western Australian blacks, the subject has been taken up by several correspondents. Their letters strongly support the contention that the condition of the aboriginal inhabitants of the Western State is one which calls for inquiry; while the   almost contemptuous attitude adopted by Sir John Forrest on the subject furnishes additional reasons in favour of action by the Federal authorities.”

It is well known that the daily papers in Perth will not publish letters on  The Cruelties Perpetrated upon the aboriginals by Nor’ West squatters.

The columns of the “Age”however, and, we need scarcely say, the columns of this paper are open to all who will humanely endeavour to mitigate the physical sufferings and     allay the mental agonies of an unfort- unate race against whom a cruel “civilisation” has declared a relentless war of extermination. The notorious Bendhu murders by the brothers   Anderson were referred to in the “Age,” and Sir John Forrest had himself interviewed there. He gave   himself away most lamentably. He set up the miserable defence, that because the Andersons were natives of Victoria, W.A. could not be held res- ponsible for the disgrace attaching to the Bendhu Atrocity, and that the   blacks were not treated more harshly in the Western State than they had been elsewhere.

This line of argument provoked the ire of the Melbourne Press, and Sir John’s broad shoulders have since then had to bear the flagellation which they richly deserve. For the information of many of our readers who may not have heard of this Anderson case we will briefly sum it up :

Two brothers of that name owned a station in the Nor’ West. Five aboriginals whom they “owned,” or appropriated, attempted to escape from their Illegal Bondage.the brothers tracked them to the nextstation, 40 miles away, chained them by their necks to their saddles, and dragged them back to their “home”station.

No water was allowed them on the way, or even when they reached their destination. They were then flogged with a knotted rope, with the result that three of them–a man and two women–died. The other two (girls of 10 and 12 years respectively),   after they had been mercilessly beaten, were turned adrift in such a condition that death would have been a mercy.   After several abortive efforts, the Andersons were at length arrested by order of the Government yielding to pressure, and were brought to trial on a charge of murder. One of them died in gaol before the trial. It came out in evidence against the surviving brother–Ernest–that the man, and one of the women killed, had each a shoulder blade broken, and that both shoulder blades of the other woman had been smashed.

No defence was offered, counsel contenting himself with pleading that since a knotted rope could not be expected to cause death the offence must be considered as manslaughter. Although Chief Justice Onslow in his summing up “felt it his duty to tell the jury that the attempt to reduce the crime to manslaughter had absolutely failed,” yet the lesser verdict was returned,and then the Chief Justice once more stigmatised the crime “as nothing but a brutal, base, and cruel murder–the murder of a man, two women, and the flogging of two mere girls.” Anderson was sentenced to the highest penalty within the power of the judge to inflict–penal    Servitude for Life.

This act of justice was an accident. Had the Government not been urged to take action, nothing would have   come out of it, and this unspeakable atrocity would have been buried in oblivion as, we may fairly presume, hundreds of cases of its kind, have been before and since. Had the Andersons but stayed their hands a little, and had their unfortunate vic-tims been flogged and tortured within   an inch of their lives, the outside world would have known nothing about it. The hushing up business in the Nor’-West is of daily occurrence.

If the blacks in their exasperation turn upon their tormentors and yield to the instincts of revenge, the whole world is immediately apprised of it ;but the crime and cruelties com-mitted against them by the brutalised white man are conveniently kept in the dark. When the Andersons were brought before the local court they were fined £2 and cautioned not to be so severe in future. The inquest on the dead blacks was just like that on Durack–nothing but a sham.

It was described by the Chief Justice as “not a verdict of sensible men.” Besides this there had been two trials, the first jury, although there was no defence at all, failing to agree, whilst the second brought in a verdict of manslaughter only, in defiance of the judge’s legal  definition. “The difficulty,” says the “Age,” “in getting a pair of

Inhuman Scoundrels adequately punished for their brutal savagery is “prima facie” evidence that the original owners of the soil are not treated fairly by the white men who have dispossessed them ; that Western justice, if blind, is not color blind. Sir John Forrest is too astute to imagine that this contention is in any degree affected whether the Andersons were new arrivals or old residents,–whether they were born in the West or had  come from Victoria.” Sir John Forrest   did not attempt to absolutely deny,   when questioned in Melbourne, that gangs of blackfellows have been worked on the Roebourne-Cossack tramway with chains round their necks. He said he thought their hands were chained to the barrows ; and that is not so. He attempted to excuse the   inhumanity by saying that if they were not so chained, they would run away. Comment is unnecessary. It is evi- dent that the place where it is neces- sary to chain human beings by the neck and compel them to work for paltry offences, must be nothing short of a hell upon earth.

A correspon- dent states that he has worked among the blacks on the Cossack to Roe- bourne road, where almost all the work is done by the “niggers.” They are compelled to work in the broiling   sun all day, with a white boss stand- ing over them,Carrying Heavy Chains around their necks, and if they once flinch or complain, they are reported to head quarters and their tobacco js [sic] stopped if they are fortunate enough to get the usual allowance of one stick of twist per week. On some of the stations in the Roe- bourne district–the district where Mr. “Protector” Prinsep would have ”Banjo” and “Roger” “sat upon” by a jury–the blacks do all the shearing. A white shearer cannot get a chance there at all. The blacks earn 13s. per man per day and get nothing for their labour but starvation fare–a piece of damper and a lump of mutton. Our informant is prepared to take oath that the above statements are true, as well as the following :–

He was once shearing on a station in the Roebourne district where 40 blacks were at work. The area of the station was about   1,000,000 acres. lt was managed by one white man as overseer, and another white man as “nigger” boss. This latter was a big powerful man. On one occasion he called a black fellow to come to him, and without any pro- vocation kicked him until he left him to all appearances: lying dead on the ground.

Such atrocities as this are of almost daily occurrence in the land of Sin and Sorrow,for which Connor, M.LA., wants more police protection. It is gratify- ing and significant that our represen-tatives in the Federal Parliament – Sir John Forrest being the only excep- tion-have the matter in hand, and are demanding a Royal Commission of Enquiry in reference to the subject of the treatment of the blacks in this State.

This course is specially grati- fying to the SUNDAY TIMES, which has never missed an opportunity of expos- ing the iniquities of the meat mongers of the North, whose total extermina- tion would be a blessing to the white race as well as to the black. There are a few honorable exceptions, and only a few. A Mr. Hancock, who is a squatter in that land of Canaan, has assured the writer that he has never, during the course of many years, had the slightest trouble with the aborigi- nals, and that if treated humanely they will give no trouble. Mr. Hann, perhaps the best qualified in the State to give an opinion on the matter, says the same.

Our represen- tatives in the Federal Parliament have been supplied with information   incriminating the prospector in this connection.      Blackfellows  have been chained to trees for days and fed on salt beef in order to force them to find water. We will not deny that such a course in extreme necessityis justifiable. But they do far worse. On of our informants, Mr. Hancock, assures us that the fol-lowing is a matter of common occur-  rence in the Nor’-West :-Several prospectors, well subsidised by wealthy companies, come along. One of them purchases a horse not worth more than £10 in the market. He pays £25 or more for it, and a young gin is selec- ted-sold, in fact-and carried off by the prospector. What becomes of her finally no person can tell. One thing is certain.

She never returns to her own country. She is sold from hand to hand like any other chattel. It is fully time we had a Royal Commission of Enquiry. It is fully time, also, that the so-called “Protection” Depart- ment in this State were wiped out of existence altogether.

Reference Original news paper article…

West Australian Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1897 – 1902), Sunday 2 June 1901, page 4

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticlePdf/32719352/3?print=n

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