motions congratulating the British royals moved in parliaments like ours are a celebration of centuries of systemic racism and exploitation by the British Empire. There is nothing to celebrate here.
By Senator Mehreen Faruqi
The British monarchy is a racist, colonial institution. It is a relic of the British Empire, and it shouldn't exist. But, sadly, here we are in this chamber discussing a motion to congratulate yet another monarch on whatever anniversary it is now.
We are in a moment in history when millions of people are marching to make black lives matter. Statues of slave owners are being torn down, and attempts to decolonise the systems are gathering pace. But these motions serve as a painful reminder to people of colour like me, who migrated here from a place that was colonised, ravaged and looted by this very British Empire.
It is another of too many brutal reminders to First Nations people here in this country who live, to this day, in colonial Australia that not only is colonialism is alive and well but that its institutions are still celebrated and cherished here.
The British Crown sits on massive amounts of wealth that are the direct result of the theft of resources from colonised territories, the slave trade and occupation. The imperial colonisers ruthlessly extracted natural resources from the colonised countries to fill their coffers and feed their power and greed. This extractive, capitalist relationship is always predicated on taking more and more.
In South Asia, where I come from, it was primarily the taking of resources; in Australia, it was the bloody possession of land and culture. Colonialism is not something of the past; something that is no longer relevant. The deep depravity of what was wrought may never be repaired. In many ways, colonialism has been merely transformed into the extractive and exploitative global corporations that control vast swathes of the world. You just have to look at the unabated extraction of coal and gas from sovereign land in this country.
There is nothing to celebrate here. The terrible legacies of colonial rule here and everywhere cannot be ignored. Almost all the territories occupied by British colonialists suffer to this day from underdevelopment, corruption, malnutrition, hunger and conflict introduced by the coloniser. I think of places like Palestine and Kashmir, where British colonialists created arbitrary borders and where to this day there is immense suffering. Generations of Kashmiris and Palestinians have grown up without the most basic of human rights: to live and to live in peace. They have known nothing but the conflict introduced by the British. There is nothing to celebrate here.
Make no mistake: motions congratulating the British royals moved in parliaments like ours are a celebration of centuries of systemic racism and exploitation by the British Empire. I, for one, will not stand for it. There is nothing to celebrate here.
Hero image: Wikimedia Commons.