Australian parliament on Monday marked the 14th anniversary of the apology to the country’s Indigenous people over stealing tens of thousands of their children in the 20th century.
Speaking in parliament, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government is sorry for the laws which enabled breaking apart of the families.
“So as we do this at this time every year, we remember the Stolen Generations,” he said.
“Children taken from their parents. I say it again, children taken from their parents. No parent, no child could fail to understand the devastation of that, regardless of whatever their background is. Children taken from their parents. Families and communities torn apart. Again and again and again.”
On Feb. 13, 2008, then Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally apologized on behalf of the nation to the Indigenous Australians for the inhuman treatment in the past.
According to the Australian Healing Foundation, an organization working for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, tens of thousands of children were forcefully removed by authorities from their families between 1910 to 1970 under government policies.
Under the government policies, children were forced to assimilate into white society and culture. Parents were not allowed to meet their children, and the children were not allowed to speak their native language.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), around 33,600 survivors of the Stolen Generations live in different states of the country, with 27,000 of them over the age of 50.
Morrison said forced removal of children from parents caused trauma, disconnection and unquenching pain, which came a national shame and a deep wound.
“Separated from country, from kinship, from family, from language, from identity. Becoming even strangers to themselves,” he said.
“Sorry for the brutalities that were masked even under the guise of protection and even compassion,” he further said.