Comrade Saleh Memon asks to repost this:
In the week beginning 23rd of July 2018, Sri Lankan Tamils across the world marked the thirty-fifth year of the horrors of the anti-Tamil pogrom of Black July 1983 (Kaṟuppu Yūlai). By all account what happened was a horrific bloodbath when Tamils were killed by Sinhala mobs in Colombo and across the country.
In the western press and elsewhere these atrocities are often presented as race riots. But according to A.Sivanandan who left Colombo after an attack on his family home during the widespread pogrom in 1958, there have been no race riots in Sri Lanka since independence. What there has been a series of increasingly virulent pogroms against the Tamil people by the Sinhala state.
The turning point was the 1956 election, when S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike, launched a new party, Sri Lankan Freedom Party, with a racist platform of Sinhala-Buddhist first to win the majority of Sinhalese Buddhist vote and on winning a landslide,swiftly legislated to make Sinhala the official language and Buddhism the state religion. This attacked Tamil livelihoods and achievement because English education had been a passport for social mobility into the professions and administrative services. Peaceful protests were crushed by the police; any attempts at reconciliation were suppressed by the Sinhalese reaction. This set off a vicious political race to the bottom when the defeated United National Party adopted the same platform in competing for power.
Sivanandan succinctly summed up five decades of developmentsthus: “From then on the pattern of Tamil subjugation was set: racist legislation followed by Tamil resistance, followed by conciliatory government gestures, followed by Opposition rejectionism, followed by anti-Tamil pogroms instigated by Buddhist priests and politicians, escalating Tamil resistance, and so on – except that the mode of resistance varied and intensified with each tightening of the ethnic-cleansing screw and led to armed struggle and civil war”
Successive Sinhalese governments have carried out demographic changes in the Tamil homelands. State-aided colonization has settled Sinhalese, specifically placed between the Northern and Eastern provinces of the Tamil homeland, in order to break up the contiguity between them.
In 1971 the university system abandoned admission based on merit and substituted ‘standardisation’ through examination results – with lower marks required for Sinhalese than for Tamil students. In a single move, this blighted the future prospects of the Tami youth. Non-violent protests and political actions had reached into a blind alley. Their language demoted, their land increasingly grabbed, their educational and job opportunities curtailed and their culture marginalised, Tamil youth turned to arms in the 1970s responding to pogroms with counter-violence.
In 1979 the government passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act and sent the army to Jaffna with instructions to “wipe out terrorism within six months”. The imprisonment and torture of innocent Tamils that followed in the wake of the PTA drove the civilian population further into the arms of the emerging militant groups, all demanding a separate Tamil state, Eelam, the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) the most militant of them.
In June 1981 the security forces set fire to the Jaffna Public Library destroying 95,000 volumes and rare manuscripts of historic Tamil literature, considered to be the epicentre of Tamil cultural heritage. In the same year, the police attacked a peaceful refugee camp, Gandhiyam, set up by Tamil doctors to give refugees succour and killed or imprisoned its organisers.
On 23 July 1983 the Tigers ambushed a Sri Lankan army unit killing thirteen soldiers in Jaffna to avenge the killing of Charles Anthony (nom de guerre ‘Seelan‘), now of the LTTE’s top commanders. Their bodies were put on public display in Colombo by the government to provoke Sinhalese fury which resulted in the killing of Tamil prisoners in Welikade jail by Sinhalese prisoners with the collusion of the guards.
A widespread pogrom against Tamils commenced immediately and over a week reached genocidal proportions. Abductions, torture, rape, killings, disappearances and arbitrary arrests became widespread. Many attackers used electoral registers to destroy Tamil homes, shops, factories, etc built by Tamils over generations thereby destroying their capital assets accumulated over generations. These planned abuses were carried out with impunity by the armed forces, special task forces, police, home guards and paramilitary forces.
A cruel ethnic civil war of attrition followed over more than two decades with violence and counter-violence on both sides. The Sri Lankan armed forces with an airforce and navy, well equipped with advanced weapons acquired from the UK and US had always had an upper hand. The North East Secretariat on Human rights (NESOHR) documented more that 150 massacres of Tamils between 1956 and 2008. The LTTE resorted to suicide bombings, assassinations and skirmishes with Sri Lankan armed forces.
In July 1987 India signed a pact with Sri Lanka to end the conflict by sending peacekeeping troops (IPKF) to disarm LTTE. As soon as the Tamils realised that India would never support a separate Tamil state, the showdown between the IPKF and LTTE resulted in thousands of deaths. The disaster led to withdrawal of IPKF in March 1990 and the bitterness on the part of LTTE resulted in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May, 1991.
Apart from the peace talks in October 1994 which ended when Jaffna the main city in the north in December 1995, a major effort mediated by Norway in February 2000 led to a 20 month long fragile ceasefire agreement and talks only to be scuppered by President Chandrika Kumaratunga declaring state of emergency on 5 November 2003.
Meanwhile, the LTTE was already designated as a terrorist organisation in Britain, Europe, India and US, giving a greater confidence to the Sri Lankan government to go on the offensive to seek a final solution militarily. Geopolitical machinations ensured that the Sri Lankan government would have diplomatic and material support from UK and US. There is sufficient evidence that behind the scenes Britain provided training for the Sri Lankan armed forces to improve their performance and the modern weapons to defeat Tamil nationalism. The two great regional powers, India and China both supported the Sri Lankan government. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) promoted Hindu nationalism (Hindutva) which countered secular Tamil nationalism. China seeking greater influence in Sri Lanka went along to court the government and Buddhist nationalism.
The election of Mahinda Rajapaksa in April 2005 brought in a regime which conducted a ruthless war not only against the Tamil Tigers but against innocent Tamil civilians. This parliamentary dictatorship tilting to fascism, instituted blanket censorship, abducting and killing any critical journalists and activists and feeding the Sinhalese public with government manufactured propaganda. In 2009 it intensified the military campaign and cornered the Tamil Tigers in Wanni with tens of thousands of civilians. The north of Sri Lanka was destroyed field by field, street by street, hospital by hospital without UN and the Western Powers intervening.
The defeat of the LTTE brought to end the attempt to establish a Tamil state. A survey showed that in 2016, seven years after the end of the war, 96 percent of Tamil land was occupied by the army. There has been little change since then, with many people still unable to return to their lands and access to water resources so that they can farm and fish to sustain their livelihood.
After the massacres in Wanni, On May 18, 2009, Colombo declared the end of the 26-year civil war and presented this as the beginning of a new era of peace, national reconciliation and development. But the PTA still remains in force enabling the security forces to detain people and subject them to torture, bypassing due legal process. There are many who are still looking for disappeared relatives. Nine years later the Sri Lankan government has set up an Office of Mission Persons (OMP) which has yet to gain the confidence of the Tamil community. Whilst the new government of President Maithripala Sirisena has promised to stop abductions and censorship of journalists, the national security state and the fundamental strategy of the ruling class to divide and rule remains unchanged. The political will to look back at the past and bring about reconciliation between the different communities is absent. Little progress has been made to implement The UNHCR resolution 30-1 passed in 2015 to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights. For this to happen, the fundamentalist Buddhist monks must return to their monasteries and army to the to its barracks.
The Permanent People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka held in December 2013 upheld the charge of genocide against Sri Lanka government and of complicity by the UK and US governments. Like the Palestinians and Kurds, the Sri Lankan Tamils have suffered ethnic cleansing and dispossession over the last seven decades. In none of these cases have the Western powers and the United Nations designated this as genocide. These are good examples of the prevailing politics of genocide. For the US and UK, ethnic cleaning by its allies such as Israeli, Turkey and Sri Lankan governments are benign genocides. It is only those committed by their enemies that are considered to be nefarious and requiring rapid intervention. In Kosovo, the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia)18 was briskly set up to indict the Yugoslav President Milosevic for genocide. The strategic interest of UK and US ensured immunity to the President Rajapaska for war crimes. Such double standards are with us and undermine the credibility of the current world order dominated by the US. All attempts to use international institutions to hold the Sri Lankan government to account retrospectively, worthwhile as they are, are not likely to result in any significant action.
Every community has to draw lessons from the history of their struggles. The Tamil liberation movement suffered a crippling defeat. The Sri Lankan Tamils have entered new phase. They have to regroup and radically innovate new strategy and tactics. They face a dual challenge- one at home in Sri Lanka and the other in the diaspora in the UK and elsewhere. Wherever they are they need to build strong civil society organisations with solidarity to fight against injustice legally and politically. They have no choice but to reconstruct their lives. In Sri Lanka holding on the land they have and recovering the lands they have been displaced from is the utmost priority. They must develop strategies for this. More importantly, they need to bring to an end the domination of the Sri Lankan military in civil society and public spaces such as schools. For this, they must build communities of resistance based on participatory democracy. Tamils in the diaspora should set up organisations and funding to support reconstruction of the communities in Sri Lanka, beyond mere charities. They will need to build their political organisations to contest any opportunities electorally at local and national levels.
They came for Tamils and now they are increasingly going after the Muslims. Given the triumphalism of Sinhalese nationalism and the increasing attack on Muslim community, the Tamil community must make common cause with all minorities and oppose injustices. This would show a principled position on defence of dignity, security, justice and human rights based on their experience. It will win them respect and friends at home and across the world.
In the UK, the Tamil community are still intimidated by the fact that the Terrorism Act 2000 banned LTTE and by association, any Tamil political activity can be linked to terrorism. They need to resist this by making common cause with the Kurdish and other communities facing a similar problem. Organisations such as CAMPACC have supported the Tamil community over more that a decade. The Tamil community must learn from the Kurdish experience. Kurds under the guidance of their imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan have abandoned nationalism as their aim and have attempted to build grass root democratic institutions uniting diverse communities in Rojava. They face formidable obstacles and geopolitical machinations but their strategy is both visionary and right.
Inevitably we confront the question of why the Sinhalese polity descended into barbarism with Buddhist religious bigotry having a sway contrary to Buddhist tenets of truth, virtue, morality, non-violence etc. The roots of this lies in the colonial past when the British colonial authorities imposed a unitary central state without regard to Tamil territorial claims and invented the ‘Sinhala Buddhist Aryan’ national identity privileged to rule the island in 1833. In sharp contrast to its brutal treatment of the Indian people across the water the British awarded universal suffrage in their model colony coupling it with an island wide census to instil the Sinhala identity with a majoritarian consciousness. They developed a narrative that the Tamils were not indigenous to the island but invaders. Despite the repeated demands by the Tamils for constitutional safeguards that would preserve their collective rights as a nation, the British transferred the power to the Sinhala elite in 1948 leaving Tamils at the mercy of the sectarian state.
This beautiful island still described as ‘the jewel of the Indian Ocean’ in tourist brochures is tarnished. Maybe sometime in not too distant future, coming generations of Sinhalese and Tamils will look back at the last 70 years with horror and seek to build a multicultural, multi-faith and multilingual society where all will flourish and none will be left behind, none will be marginalised and demonised. In a turbulent world they will face urgent challenges of climate change and economic survival. Hopefully it will dawn upon them that the inhabitants of this island have a history and geography so intertwined that ethno-nationalism can only be destructive and an inclusive politics and culture will enrich all of them. Without such hope, how can one face the future.
How can one remember all the victims of this carnage. Innocent children, women and men who were slaughtered for nothing but for the demigods of nationalism. Perhaps it is best to leave it to Faiz Ahmad Faiz who witnessed such the carnage in Bangladesh in 1971 by the Pakistani army and reacted to it with this poem:
This is how my sorrow became visible
its dust, piling up for years in my heart,
finally reached my eyes,
the bitterness now so clear that
I had to listen when my friends
told me to wash my eyes with blood.
Everything at once was tangled in blood-
each face, each idol, red everywhere.
Blood swept over the sun, washing away its gold.
The moon erupted with blood, its silver extinguished.
The sky promised a morning of blood,
ant night wept only in blood.
The trees hardened into crimson pillars.
All flowers filled their eyes with blood.
And every glance was an arrow,
each pierced image blood. This blood
-a river crying our for martyrs-
flows on in longing. And in sorrow, in rage, in love.
Let it flow. Should it be dammed up,
there will only be hatred cloaked in colours of death.
Don’t let his happen, my friends,
bring all my tears back instead,
a flood to purify my dust-filled eyes,
to wash this blood forever from my eyes.
(translated from Urdu by Agha Shahid Ali)
Gah. Still. No. Change.
>Subject: Call for solidarity for the academics for peace on trial
Our colleagues in Turkey are facing incredible repression under a populist leader. This is part of a wider, global trend where academic and speech freedoms have increasingly been stifled due to neoliberalism and authoritarianism. I hope you can spread this call below widely and show your solidarity by following and publicizing peace academics’ court hearings that are scheduled to begin soon. Kind regards.
Call for solidarity for the academics for peace on trial
Violations of academic freedom and freedom of speech in Turkey have reached a dire situation. The intimidations from Turkish government and its affiliates toward academics have escalated to legal action, whereby peace signatory academics face 7.5 years’ imprisonment if convicted for “propagandizing for a terrorist organization.”
In January 2016, 1128 academics signed the Peace Petition, titled ‘We Will Not Be A Party To This Crime’ in order to draw the public’s attention to the brutal acts of violence perpetrated by the state in the Kurdish regions of Turkey. Immediately after the release of the petition, many signatories were prosecuted, dismissed from their posts, and their citizenship rights were seized. A large number of academics including Nobel Prize laureates and members of major science academies around the world initiated a support campaign nationally and internationally. People from different professions, such as journalists, artists, screen actors and actresses, and writers voiced their support for the persecuted academics. More people signed the petition, yet the suppression on the signatory academics got fiercer; hundreds of more academics were dismissed with statutory decrees, their passports were confiscated, they were banned from public sector employment, and criminal investigations were launched. Many of those academics had to leave the country and are now facing extreme difficulties in resettling their lives and professions. One of the signatory academics –Mehmet Fatih Traş– could not stand this injustice and committed suicide. The declaration of state of emergency in July 2016 after a military coup attempt further blurred the distinction between criminal investigations and political punishment, and opened an arduous and painful avenue for not only the academics but also for journalists, writers, teachers, artists and others who demand freedom of speech in Turkey.
The signatory academics abroad have recently initiated a targeted boycott towards the Turkish higher education system, and its complicit universities. The aim of the academic boycott is to ensure that all dismissals are revoked and the persecution of academics, exacerbated under the state of emergency regime, is ended. To this boycott, and continuous struggle of Academics for Peace, the government recently responded by a harsher strategy: signatory academics are sued on an individual basis based on the accusation of terror propaganda according to the Law on Struggle against Terrorism, Article 7/2. The public prosecutor proposes imprisonment extending to 7.5 years. The number of academics with indictments is increasing day by day, and their trials start on December 5, 2017.
Since the petition, one of the most important acts of support for the academics who demanded peace has been the solidarity from colleagues who are not content with Turkey’s oppressive regime and its fatal actions on freedom of speech. In this new turn, we are well aware that we will need a stronger voice of resistance and call for justice! This solidarity can be through standing by us in the court hearings starting December 5, 2017, sending monitoring teams, observers, and news-makers; spreading the word and raising the awareness for what is happening now in Turkey regarding the academics.
In order to stand in solidarity with the persecuted academics, we, the peace academics from North America, call on you to:
1. Share and spread this call for solidarity; show your solidarity by following the trials,
commenting on them in your blogs, social media and/or writing a news article. For more
info on the latest attacks on academics in Turkey, please visit <https://barisicinakademisyenler.net/English>
https://barisicinakademisyenler.net/<https://barisicinakademisyenler.net/English> or http://mesana.org/pdf/Turkey20171017.pdf
2. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com> if you want to attend the trials as an observer, or
write to a human rights organization to send a delegate;
3. Sign the petition https://academicboycottofturkey.wordpress.com/petition/ to support the
targeted boycott on complicit universities in Turkey;
4. Inform your professional organizations and university senate to take action against
complicit institutions, such as The Scientific and Technological Research Council of
Turkey (TUBITAK; www.tubitak.gov.tr/en<http://www.tubitak.gov.tr/en>);
5. Support dismissed scholars financially by donating to the education union that supports
This call can also be accessed via this link for posting on social media: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ktAwJ6tS5xVZa6uKqXu1rH843u7NDj5aj0OwGvPv7bo/edit?usp=sharing
Defoe, as a good Protestant, was of course keen to remedy the ‘torrent of vice’, ‘venal crime’ and ‘Epidemick Distemper’ that afflicted the nation with ‘wickedness’ (The Poor Man’s Plea’ 1698 [1926: 1-2). Against lewdness, debaunchery and sport on the Sabbath, he takes the side of the ‘Plebeii’ who are no differently equipped than the Dignitaries, excepting in terms of quality and estates. Noting that vice and the Devil are good levellers (4), he objects ‘against setting any poor man in the stocks, and sending them to the house of correction for immoralities’ considering this a ‘most unequal and unjust way of proceeding in the World’ (5).
P6 of the 1926 reprint – The Shortest Way with the Dissenters and other pamphlets, Oxford: basil blackwell.
Both informers and judges are guilty of the same crimes for which the poor are sent to the stocks. (16-17) (Defoe would be condemned to stand in pillory three times in 1703 for publishing The Shortest Way with the Dissenters).
The parson and the judge pass sentence on a drunkard when they themselves had been ‘both drunk together … the night before’ (18).
In 1701, in a preface to another pamphlet, The true-born Englishman: a Satyr, Defoe also has the following quote on immigration, which shows how far our well bred English have come…:
In A Hymn to the Pillory, Defoe rails against wise Vice-Chancellors, Doctors in scandal and Professors on reproach as ‘true-born English tools’ and plagiarists (140) (of course Defoe would borrow generously from others for his Robinson).
Then this beautiful verse against banks, stock-traders and colonial accountants:
This is from E-flux:
Refugee Heritage, a new project by DAAR
The Architecture of Exile IV. B: February 24, 7pm, with Suad Amiry, Thomas Keenan, Jorge Otero-Pailos, and Alessandro Petti and Sandi Hilal; moderated by Nikolaus Hirsch
e-flux, 311 East Broadway, New York, NY 10002
Refugee camps are established with the intention of being demolished. As a paradigmatic representation of political failure, they are meant to have no history and no future; they are meant to be forgotten. The history of refugee camps are constantly erased, dismissed by states, humanitarian organizations, international organizations and even self-imposed by refugee communities in fear that any acknowledgement of the present undermines a future right of return. The only history that is recognized within refugee communities is one of violence and humiliation. Yet the camp is also a place rich with stories narrated through its urban fabric. In tracing, documenting, revealing and representing refugee history beyond the narrative of suffering and displacement, Refugee Heritage is an attempt to imagine and practice refugee-ness beyond humanitarianism.
Contemporary notions of heritage and conservation are buttressed by institutions of great power, which are often oriented towards cultural expropriation. UNESCO’s “Format for the nomination of properties for inscription on the World Heritage List (Annex 5)” is a monumental building built during a colonial era. Over the course of two years, organizations and individuals, politicians and conservation experts, activists, governmental and non-governmental representatives and proximate residents gathered to discuss the implications of nominating Dheisheh Refugee Camp as a World Heritage Site. Refugee Heritage seeks to deploy the potential for heritage to be mobilized as an agent of political transformation.
Over the course of the next four weeks, an edited version of the Annex 5 nomination dossier for the inscription of Dheisheh Refugee Camp as a World Heritage Site will be published according to the first four parts of the nomination: Identification, Description, Justification, and Conservation.
On February 24 at e-flux, a panel event featuring Suad Amiry, Thomas Keenan, Jorge Otero-Pailos, and Alessandro Petti and Sandi Hilal (moderated by Nikolaus Hirsch) will seek to address the potential for practices and institutions of conservation to be understood as a force capable of mobilizing the political constitution of built space. The panel will streamed live here. Click here for more information.
Author: Alessandro Petti (DAAR)
Editors: Nick Axel, Nikolaus Hirsch, Anton Vidokle
The UNESCO nomination dossier was originally prepared by DAAR (Alessandro Petti, Sandi Hilal, Sandy Rishmawi, Elsa Koehler, Isshaq Al Barbary, Mais Musleh) in consultation with Campus in Camps, Dheisheh Camp Popular Committee, Finiq Cultural Center, Ibdaa Cultural Center, Riwaq Center for Architectural Conservation and Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation in Bethlehem. Special thanks to the Odah and Al Saifi families. Produced with the support of the Foundation for Art Initiatives and 5th Riwaq Biennale.
This publication was made possible by the Decolonizing Architecture course at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, Sweden.
Tracking down the old man’s arrival records from Europe to Australia. He was a violent drunken shit, but I do appreciate at least his refrain about how we should have no regard for anyone who thinks that workers can’t read literature or that ‘these books are not for the likes of us’. School was not the only place to learn also, but all people should get into the school/library/gallery without any kind of entry bar. He valued university of life education in the wildest sense. He carried his encyclopaedias out of our burning house (when I was four) rather than lose them, along the way sacrificing his immigration records and Euro identity papers etc to the bushfires (perhaps for good reason, I dread to discover).
Anyway, on the track of his records, I think I’ve found his 1950 arrival data – perhaps to Bonegilla (hi Glenda Sluga) and later to the Snowy scheme. There’s this helpful write up, to be absorbed also for its contrast to current Australian camp policy:
List with agency/person recording
Series details for: A12051
Migrant Selection Documents for Displaced Persons who travelled to Australia per Hellenic Prince departing Naples 4 December 1950
1950 – 1950
1950 – 1950
Items in this series on RecordSearch
All items from this series are entered on RecordSearch.
1950 – 1950CA 51, Department of Immigration, Central Office
18 Sep 2013 – CA 9431, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Central Office – Immigration
Quantity and location
3.06 metres held in ACT
System of arrangement/ control
Multiple number with occasional ‘R’ prefix
Range of control symbols
1-2 to 1000; R3 to R230-R233
Predominant physical format
PAPER FILES AND DOCUMENTS
Function and Purpose
This series consists of Migrant Selection Documents for Displaced Persons who travelled to Australia on the ship ‘Hellenic Prince’ departing Naples on 3 December1950 and arriving in Melbourne 10 January 1951.
Displaced Persons Scheme
At the end of the Second World War, many hundreds of thousands of people who had been brought to Germany from occupied countries to labour in German industry were unable or unwilling to return to their homelands which were occupied by the army of the USSR (mainly Poland and the Baltic countries – Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, in addition to Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia).
These people came under the care of the International Refugee Organization (IRO). They were screened, given the status of Displaced Person and housed in camps in Germany, Italy and Austria.
On 21 July 1947, the Commonwealth Government entered into an agreement with the IRO for the resettlement of European Displaced Persons in Australia. This scheme was subsequently known as the DP Group Resettlement (or ‘Mass Resettlement’) scheme.
Under this agreement, the IRO undertook responsibility for provision of transport (at its own cost) and the care of the Displaced Persons until their disembarkation in Australia. The Commonwealth undertook selection in Europe and responsibility for reception in Australia, placement in employment and care after arrival of all members of the family unit. Unlike the DP schemes already operating in the United States, Canada and various South American countries, the prospective emigrant did not need to secure personal sponsorship from a relative or friend already resident in the country, or from a welfare society, who undertook to provide support (in the way of accommodation and sustenance after their arrival and until they were self-supporting). Instead, in Australia, the government itself would fulfil this role, an important difference that caused the Australian scheme to be regarded with favour by the IRO, despite the costs involved in transporting the refugees such a great distance. (Conversely, some DPs favoured Australia as a destination precisely because it was so remote from Europe.)
During the lifetime of the DP Scheme, the Australian government’s official representation in Germany was the Australian Military Mission in Berlin, which presided over the recruitment activities by Australian Migration personnel. From 1948, the Migration Branch of this office was headquartered separately in Cologne, with the Selection Teams being accommodated at various locations in the British and American zones of Germany. They were heavy dependent for their operations on the goodwill and cooperation of the British and American military authorities since all basic needs such as accommodation food, transport and communications came from this source.
Eligibility for selection was based initially on standards of age, physical fitness and the ability to do manual work. At first, Australia expressly targeted single Baltic people. However, as the scheme progressed, and this limited source dried up, the target groups widened. In the next two years, while the emphasis on fitness to undertake manual work remained, restrictions on nationality, marital status and composition of family groups were gradually relaxed until, in April 1949, the scheme was extended to include all European nationals whose Displaced Person status was recognised by the IRO. (The status of DP was stringently tested; the conditions of eligibility occupy eight pages of the Constitution of the IRO.)
All applicants within the worker age limits under this scheme undertook to remain in the employment found for them by the Commonwealth for a period of two years from the date of their arrival, and their continued residence in the Commonwealth was subject to their observing this undertaking. At the end of this period, these conditions of entry were revoked and the DPs effectively became permanent residents with the normal rights of citizens to live and work where they chose.
To meet its responsibilities under the agreement, and to ensure an appropriate environment for the reception of the DPs, and for their absorption into the community, the Commonwealth set up its own Reception and Training Centres at Bonegilla in Victoria, Bathurst and Greta in New South Wales, Graylands in West Australia and Woodside in South Australia. At these centres, the new arrivals were again medically examined and x-rayed and interviewed individually to assess their employment potential, within the limited range of the government’s intent; men had been recruited to work as labourers and unskilled workers, women as domestics, nurses and typists. Generally, any professional qualifications and technical skills the DPs possessed were ignored.
During their stay in the Reception and Training Centres, usually about three or four weeks, the DPs were given a course of instruction in utilitarian English and the Australian way of life. During this time, they were paid a special social service benefit from which an amount was deducted towards the cost of their upkeep. (Migrants under this scheme were eligible to receive health and medical service benefits, sickness and unemployment benefits, Maternity Allowance and Child Endowment.)
Subsequently, as the scheme progressed, many other accommodation centres for dependants of workers were established in many locations, from Cairns in North Queensland to Cunderdin in West Australia.
After a slow start, owing to the shortage of suitable shipping (there was only the one voyage in 1947, and sixteen voyages in 1948), there was a great expansion of the program when more shipping became available in 1949. In that year, the number of ships on charter to the IRO peaked at forty (exactly half were USATs) and there were seventy-eight DP voyages to Australia. Despite a change of government in Australia (which removed from the scene the personal drive and commitment of Minister Calwell and installed a new ministry which favoured traditional British migration), the program continued at a high level through 1950 and 1951, but decreased as the IRO neared the end of its mandated existence.
When the IRO wound up its activities in early 1952, there were still many Displaced Persons in camps in Europe who had already been accepted for migration to Australia under the DP Mass Resettlement scheme and whose passages had still to be arranged. This migration continued until late 1953 (under the auspices of the International Committee for European Migration – ICEM), usually by placing small numbers of people on ships carrying migrants under other schemes, or on a scheduled commercial service, rather than on ships chartered solely to carry DPs, as done previously. The last arrival occurred in September 1953, bringing the total number of arrivals under this scheme to approximately 170,700 persons.
Most of the voyages originated in Bremerhaven, Germany. In the middle period, many Displaced Persons were transported to Naples, Italy, by train, from Germany and Austria. Other occasional ports of origin were Genoa, Nordenham (near Bremerhaven) and Rotterdam on the Atlantic coast, and Genoa, Venice, Trieste and Piraeus in the Mediterranean. A few voyages collected further DPs en route form camps in Lebanon and Egypt (mostly Yugoslavs) and one voyage collected Polish DPs from a camp in Kenya, East Africa. The department attempted to alternate the arrivals between Melbourne and Sydney to even out the flow of new arrivals to Bonegilla and Bathurst centres, respectively, with limited success. Occasionally, a ship was directed to disembark passengers at Fremantle, Adelaide or Newcastle, usually as a result of specific employment opportunities in these areas.
During the course of the scheme, in late 1950 and early 1951, a small number of persons, mostly pregnant women or elderly dependents, were flown by chartered aircraft from Europe to Australia. Almost all of these flights departed from Bremen or Rome.
There were also some arrivals both by ship and aircraft from a DP camp in the Philippines. These DPs were former Russian nationals who had been evacuated to the Philippines from Shanghai in early 1949.
(Many other persons who had been DPs in Europe migrated to Australia during these years as privately sponsored migrants; not under the government sponsored Mass Resettlement scheme. This is particularly the case for Jewish DPs sponsored by the Australian Jewish Welfare Society (AJWS) and the American Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC). These organisations were active in France and many of these voyages, by ships such as ‘Derna’, ‘Napoli’ and ‘El Soudan’, originated from Marseilles. There are files on these voyages in the Immigration Departments series A434; but, as the DPs involved were not recruited or selected by the Australian government officials, there are no migration selection documents for these people as there are for arrivals under the Mass Resettlement Scheme.)
The Ship and the Voyage
The ship ‘Hellenic Prince’ was chartered by the IRO to transport DPs to Australia. This voyage was her fourth DP voyage to Australia departing Naples on 3 December1950 and arriving in Melbourne 10 January 1951 carrying 953 DPs. The majority were mostly from Europe, Poland and the Baltic countries, in addition to Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia and were composed of single males, single females, married couples and family groups.
Nominal Roll Nos 817-819 the Komlosy family disembarked at Colombo.
Nominal Roll Nos 855-857 the Bondarew family, disembarked at Suez.
The passengers disembarked and were transported by special train to the Department of Immigration Reception and Training Centre, Bonegilla departing from the ship’s side at 8:50 am and 9:50 am on 11 January 1951.
The Nominal Roll
A ship’s nominal roll is a list of all the passengers on board when the ship or aircraft departed from its port of departure.
A schedule of selected DPs for a particular voyage was assembled over some weeks by the Australian Migration Selection teams moving from one camp to another, interviewing potentially eligible DPs who had nominated for resettlement in Australia. Consequently, the schedule is first arranged under the heading of the camp and then by category of persons selected at that camp; that is, whether the DPs were single males, single females, married couples, etc. The names were normally listed alphabetically within each of these categories. When the schedule was complete (according to the passenger capacity of the particular ship), each person listed was allocated a number starting from number 1 for the first entry on the schedule and going through in one sequence to the last entry. The final form of the schedule of selected DPs thus became the ship’s nominal roll, and the allocated number against the entry for each person in the schedule was referred to as his or her nominal roll number.
At this point, the roll was typed up (in multiple copies) as the finalised list of approved migrants. However, there were often subsequent deletions (the names are still visible but are crossed through, usually in red crayon) as DPs who had been selected to travel had to be cancelled at the last moment, most frequently owing to the illness of a member of the family unit. To prevent the wastage of these available berths, a pool of cases (usually single males) was built up, after a time, at a camp at the point of embarkation (such as Bagnoli in Italy), which could be substituted to take advantage of these vacancies. These substitutes were known as Reserves and they were listed at the end of the existing roll in a new numerical sequence distinguished by an R prefix. Many nominal rolls therefore have two sequences of numbers, the main sequence and a sequence of Reserves.
The personal documents for each person on a voyage, that is, the records of the type which constitute this series (which also were sent to Australia on the same ship ), were arranged in accordance with this numbering scheme. The nominal roll numbers have therefore been adopted as the item control symbols for this series.
Multiple copies of the nominal roll were created in the Migration offices in Europe and accompanied the DPs on the voyage to Australia. On arrival here, copies were distributed to various government departments involved in the exercise, such as Customs and Social Services. A copy of the nominal roll for this voyage can be found in CRS A434, 1950/3/46121.
The same process regarding nominal rolls, and the same terminologies, applied to both ship and aircraft departures.
To aid identification, a considerable amount of personal information about the DP appears in the entry in the nominal roll. In addition to the name and nominal roll number, there was a reference to the CM-1 form (IRO’s record of interview to establish DP status), the actual DP status granted; Nationality, Religion, Marital status, Sex, Date of Birth, Age, Country and Place of Birth, Passport number and Place of Issue, and Occupation.
Given the difficulty for the overwhelmingly Anglo-Celtic bureaucracy posed by the unfamiliar Slavic nomenclature, it quickly became standard departmental practice to use the nominal roll number as shorthand for the person. For this reason, the ship’s nominal roll and the person’s individual nominal roll number assumed a particular significance in the control of the records and the administration of the scheme generally.
As the nominal rolls were widely dispersed in departmental records and often difficult to identify, NAA staff have created an artificial series of copies of the nominal roll for each voyage and flight under the DP Mass Resettlement Scheme, registered as CRS A12916.
The records in this series, in general, are those created by the Australian Migration Selection Teams in Germany and Austria; for each person, these consist of two main documents:
A Processing card (5 x 8 inch index card) which shows the applicant’s name, date of birth, sex, nationality, educational standard, fluency of languages, IRO eligibility, documents produced to support identity, address of any relative in Australia, religion, particulars of dependants, any civil offences, literary test result, date of arrival in Germany and from where. On the reverse of the card, there is provision for recording (very briefly) the reason for coming to Germany, recent employment history and suggested employment in Australia; there is also a signed undertaking to abide by the conditions applying to their migration to Australia, and acceptance and signature of Selection Officer.
A large format IRO Medical Examination Form. The front page of the form provides for personal identification and includes the Displaced Person’s name, date of birth, and physical characteristics such as colour of eyes and hair, weight, height and any distinguishing scars or marks. In addition, a passport-style photograph is attached (designed to ensure that the person presenting for the examination was in fact the person described). The remainder of the form provides for recording a succession of medical examinations by the IRO Assembly Centre doctor, the IRO’s Resettlement Centre doctor and finally by the Australian Medical officer attached to the Selection Team. There is often also a chest x-ray negative attached.
There may also be some records which were created by the IRO itself relating to the processing of the application for registration as a DP and for resettlement outside Europe. They contain the same types of personal information as the records described above, but often with more detail and with explanatory statements about points of nationality or ethnicity, or about family relationships.
System of Arrangement and Control
The items of this series are arranged by the nominal roll number, as described above. Generally the records relating to one person constitute one record item. However, in cases where a number of consecutive entries on the nominal roll constitute a family unit, the documents for all members of this family unit are grouped together as one record item (contained in one folder), and the control symbol for this record item is the range of nominal roll numbers of the individual persons. For example, a control symbol of ‘112-115’ indicates there are documents for four members of a family unit within the record item, with nominal roll numbers 112, 113, 114 and 115. Some records in the series include alphabetical prefixes and/or suffixes.
Records for each voyage are controlled as a discrete series.
Language of the material
In most cases, the language of the printed forms and the entered data is English but there is some German, French and other languages represented.
English was the official language of the IRO which, although headquartered in Geneva, was staffed predominantly by British, American and Canadian personnel. Almost all the recruitment action for migration to Australia took place in the British and American zones of German where English was the language of the governing authority (though German was the lingua franca of the DPs themselves). Relatively little recruitment activity took place in the French Zone of Germany (partly because the French government had little enthusiasm for European emigration) and none at all in the Russian Zone. The same comments apply to the situation in Austria.
Relationships with other records
Other original records created by the IRO in Germany and Austria relating to individual DPs are in the custody of the International Tracing Service, Bad Arolsen Germany (website at its-arolsen.org). The forms CM-1 contain information derived from the personal interviews which were part of the process of establishing eligibility for DP status and may be of particular value. In general, the archives of the IRO generally are held by the National Archives of France in Paris.
When the DPs arrived in Australia, all persons over the age of 16 years were required to complete an Alien Registration application. These forms are also in the custody of the National Archives and are progressively being added to the RecordSearch database. In general, they do not contain any more personal information than is present in the migrant selection documents.
The Bonegilla cards (CRS A2571) record, along with the usual personal details, the dates of arrival and departure from Bonegilla and the destination on departure. They also have a passport-style photo attached, taken at the camp (that is, not the same photo as can be found on the IRO’s Medical Form).
There is no comprehensive index or other original register of DP records in the custody of NAA. However, the records relating to a particular person can be identified by keyword search, entering the person’s full name, in NAA’s RecordSearch database. Records relating to one voyage are controlled as a discrete series.
As mentioned above, NAA staff created, for reference purposes, an artificial series of copies of each nominal roll of each voyage and flight under the DP Mass Resettlement Scheme. This series is CRS A12916.
As each voyage was about to depart from Europe, the basic records (Processing Card and Medical Examination form) created by the Australian Selection teams for all the persons on that voyage were bundled up and forwarded on the same ship. (The documents for each person were loose, not pinned together or enclosed in a protective cover. Many DPs did not have the nominal roll number endorsed on their papers and were identified only by the names of the applicants.) The bundles were addressed to the Department of Immigration Central office in Canberra, but owing to space constraints in Canberra, the records were held at the Reception Centre in Bonegilla, where a very large quantity of such bundles gradually accumulated, arranged first by the voyage and, within that, by nominal roll number. However, whenever any subsequent issue or action arose in relation to a DP, the selection documents for that person were extracted from their place in this collection and sent to the Immigration Department in Canberra, or elsewhere, as required, where they were incorporated in a case file. There was so much demand for these records that an officer from the department in Canberra was stationed at Bonegilla expressly to deal with it; identifying, locating and forwarding the records as required.
In 1954, when the DP Scheme had ended, the DP records remaining at Bonegilla were transferred to the Department’s Kingston (Canberra) store in preparation for their transfer to the Archives. Despite the depredations that had been made, this was still the bulk of the record collection and was still in the original arrangement by voyage/flight. This material was transferred to the custody of the National Archives on 3 March 1958 and was accessioned as CP533/1. This accession consisted of 979 bundles occupying 354 shelf feet.
Three years later, a number of additional transfers were made. These were documents which had been extracted from the collection at Bonegilla and placed on case files, then subsequently culled from the case file when that file was to be destroyed. All of this material was arranged alphabetically by the persons surname, since often the relevant ship and nominal roll number were not known. A quantity of 49 bundles of this material (21 shelf feet) was transferred on 11 Feb 1961 and subsequently accessioned as CP900/2. A further 152 bundles (68 shelf feet) was transferred on 22 February 1961 and accessioned as CP899/4. In 1969, a further residue of this type of DP material was included with a large transfer of miscellaneous migrant selection documents from various migration schemes, which was accessioned as AA1969/339.
In 1954, the Liquidator for the IRO wrote to the Australian government proposing that the IRO’s records for each DP who had come to Australia should be forwarded to Australia for retention. These records related to the process of registration as a DP, the person’s engagement in the IRO’s Care and Maintenance program in the camps and the application for Resettlement outside of Europe. This documentation was subsequently forwarded from Geneva to Australia and this material was also transferred by the Immigration Department to the custody of the NAA in February, 1961. The quantity was 187 bundles, occupying 69 shelf feet, also arranged alphabetically by surname, and was accessioned as CP900/4. While in the custody of the Department, some documents from this material had also been extracted and used elsewhere, usually in tandem with the Australian-origin documents for the person.
Owing to the very large quantities of records involved and the absence of original control records, no attempt was made at this time to rationalise or to restore the arrangement of these records. Consequently, for the next thirty years, the standard of accessibility to individual DP’s records in the National Archives was very poor.
In 1999, Arrangement and Description section staff of NAA Canberra began a long-term project to restore this very large collection of personal documents (a total of more than 200 metres of densely packed loose documents) to its original arrangement and to enter each record into the RecordSearch database. This project involved researching the history of the DP scheme, identifying the voyages and flights that were made under this scheme, locating in each case a copy of the nominal roll and then identifying each document to a nominal roll entry so that the document’s original order and control could be established, then preserving and foldering the records and entering in the database. The project was completed in late 2002. Further work by Archival Description staff in 2009 resulted in updates to series registrations and series descriptive notes.
As some of the IRO records (accession CP900/4) had already been integrated with Australian-created material in the department, it was decided not to attempt to restore the separate existence of these two sets of records but, instead, to complete the integration so that only one record item would exist for each DP (or family unit.) Accordingly, all of the accessions mentioned above have now been integrated into one standardised arrangement which reflects the original arrangement by voyage/flight and within that by the nominal roll number, and with the IRO origin material, where it exists, present in the same folder.
There is at present a residue of documents which cannot be identified to a nominal roll entry and which at this time are controlled as a separate series, CRS A12685, for the DPs from Europe, and CRS A12701, for those from the Philippines. In addition, there are many nominal roll entries for which no documents were located during this exercise. It is believed these were extracted in the process described above and the case files on which they were placed are still extant. An ongoing exercise is underway to enter the vast quantity of case files in series A446 into the RecordSearch database and it is expected that many of the missing documents will be located during this process.
National Archives of Australia: A446, Correspondence files, annual single number series with block allocations.
Louise Holborn, History of the IRO (OUP London, 1956).
Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia, No. 39, 1953 and No. 42, 1956.
Peter Plowman, Australian Migrant Ships 1946 – 1977, Rosenberg Publishing, Sydney 2008.
Peter Plowman, Emigrant Ships to Luxury Liners, NSW University Press, Sydney 1992.
Another book to get, this one on borders – gonna review it:
Read More here:
Throughout history, human societies have been organized preeminently as territories—politically bounded regions whose borders define the jurisdiction of laws and the movement of peoples. At a time when the technologies of globalization are eroding barriers to communication, transportation, and trade, Once Within Borders explores the fitful evolution of territorial organization as a worldwide practice of human societies. Master historian Charles S. Maier tracks the epochal changes that have defined territories over five centuries and draws attention to ideas and technologies that contribute to territoriality’s remarkable resilience.
Territorial boundaries transform geography into history by providing a framework for organizing political and economic life. But properties of territory—their meanings and applications—have changed considerably across space and time. In the West, modern territoriality developed in tandem with ideas of sovereignty in the seventeenth century. Sovereign rulers took steps to fortify their borders, map and privatize the land, and centralize their sway over the populations and resources within their domain. The arrival of railroads and the telegraph enabled territorial expansion at home and abroad as well as the extension of control over large spaces. By the late nineteenth century, the extent of a nation’s territory had become an index of its power, with overseas colonial possessions augmenting prestige and wealth and redefining territoriality.
Turning to the geopolitical crises of the twentieth century, Maier pays close attention to our present moment, asking in what ways modern nations and economies still live within borders and to what degree our societies have moved toward a post-territiorial world.