UN removes document referring Tasmanian Aboriginal people ‘extinct’

After publicly asserting that Tasmanian Aboriginal people were extinct for more than 40 years, a UN agency was pressured to erase a document that had been deemed “hurtful” by the organization.

As part of the nomination process for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and its accession to the world heritage list in 1982, an untrue claim was made, which stated that “Tasmanians are now an extinct race of humans.” This claim stated that “Tasmanians are now an extinct race of humans”

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) includes the reference in the technical evaluation of the temperate wilderness region, which today encompasses approximately one-fifth of Tasmania’s total landmass.

In addition, the review brought up the possibility that the thylacine, which was thought to have become extinct in 1936, still exists:

“With… important Aboriginal sites (this is because the Tasmanians are an extinct race of humans at present), and many endangered species of plants as well as animals (including, possibly, the thylacine or Tasmanian wolf), the area is one-of-a-kind and remarkable on a global scale,” the author writes. “The Tasmanians were a race of humans that has since become extinct.”

In May, it was reported by the Australian that United Nations Educational, Scientific, as well as Cultural Organization (Unesco) had declined to delete the incorrect reference from its website. This assertion was denied by the agency, which stated that it had not been contacted regarding the comment, and it confirmed that the reference had been removed on the same day that the piece was published.

Unesco provided the ABC with the following statement on Monday: “As soon as the World Heritage Centre was informed of this issue… the document was removed from the World Heritage website in pending revision by IUCN, the Unesco advisory body that produced the document in 1982.”

United Nations Educational, Scientific, as well as Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has stated that it is “very committed” to the acknowledgment and consideration of Indigenous populations for the safeguarding of World Heritage Sites.

“The World Heritage Centre therefore agreed with IUCN to have its report from 1982 amended to take into account scientific data collected since that date, which confirms that the Tasmanians are not extinct.”

According to Rodney Dillon, a Palawa elder and the chair of Tasmania’s Aboriginal Heritage Council, the inaccuracy refers to the ongoing persecution of Aboriginal people.

“The anguish and the hurt are felt by our people. It’s not too uncommon for folks in these kinds of roles to… According to what he said to Australia, “they’ve been doing it for hundreds of years.”

“Of all the people in the world, you would think that the United Nations would understand this and be sensitive about it. If they have such a low opinion of us, then how can they claim to represent us?”

In May, the Department of Climate Change, Energy, and the Environment released a paper in which it was claimed that it is essential to explicitly acknowledge that the document from the IUCN in 1982 is “incorrect and offensive and that the record cannot stand.”

The wilderness of Tasmania is considered to be one of the largest temperate wilderness areas in the world. According to the website of the Ministry of the Premier and Cabinet, “It is a precious cultural landscape for Tasmanian Aboriginal people, who have lived there for at least 35,000 years.”

Tanya Plibersek, federal minister for environment, stated at a meeting in Paris in May that she had requested the United Nations to rectify the record and that the inaccuracy helped to undermine the history of Aboriginal people.

“When I first learned that a Unesco document stated that Tasmanian Aboriginal people were ‘extinct,’ like many other people, I was shocked,” she told Guardian Australia. “Like many other people, I was shocked.”

“As of right now, we are aware of how inaccurate, hurtful, and offensive that term is.”

She expressed her gratitude to Unesco for removing the insulting text and stated that she is collaborating with the organization to revise the initial statement so that it more accurately reflects the immense importance of Tasmania’s wilderness to the state’s cultural heritage.

Plibersek also stated the following in an interview with the ABC: “Generations of Australians were taught the wrong thing at school, they were taught a history that isn’t true.”

It is anticipated that the revised Unesco declaration, which will be known as the Retrospective declaration of Outstanding Universal Value for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, will be approved in the month of September.

Dillon went on to say that the amendment did “not go anywhere near far enough” to make up for the harm that was caused by the initial remark.

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