Austrian Parliament - Lubicon Debate Comments

Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
FAX: 403-629-3939

Mailing address:
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
FAX: 403-437-0719

January 31, 1994

A translation of the debate in the Austrian Parliament regarding the recent Lubicon support resolution has now been received. The text is interesting and instructive.

First it's notable that the Austrian Parliament debated the Lubicon resolution together with resolutions concerning human rights violations in Iran and South Africa -- and on the same level. Obviously the Canadian Government has failed -- at least in the Lubicon case -- to convince people around the world that the violation of human and aboriginal rights in Canada is somehow different than the human rights violations in other countries. (Similar Canadian Government propaganda efforts a few years ago failed to convince the members of the UN Human Rights Committee that there's a difference between what's happening to the Lubicons in Canada and what's happening to others elsewhere, with the result that Canada is currently being reported annually to the General Assembly of the United Nations as being in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights -- again with such violators of human rights as Iran and South Africa.)

Regarding the debate itself, Conservative Member Dr. Hochtl stated that the Austrian Parliament "should not only articulate a clear commitment concerning the respect for human rights but also has a clear duty to act against human rights violations wherever they may occur".

Green Party Member Mag. Grandits described the Lubicons as a symbol in the fight for preservation of the planet and the need for global responsibility.

Liberal Member Motter said that she would have liked to have seen the resolution go further and to have taken the position "that the economic activities of the oil and pulp industry in the traditional territory of the Lubicon Cree should be forbidden as long as no agreement has been reached with these aboriginal people".

Conservative Member Steinbauer said that the Austrian Parliament should "accept the role of a country to act against human rights violations". He praised Austrian Parliamentarians who "have tried with toughness and firmness to convince their colleagues to act concerning the destruction of small groups". And he noted rightly that the critical reaction of other Governments to human rights violations "much easier reach the ear of (the offending Government) than the cry of help of the affected".

Austrian Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Mock stated that a concern for human rights "will remain at the core of Austrian foreign policy". He praised Government efforts in the area of human rights but said "it would be wrong to stick to illusions". He said "As long as international law is so weak the bigger (violators) will escape and the smaller will have to bear the responsibility". "On one hand", he said, "the instruments of existing (human rights) organizations have to be expanded". "On the other hand", he said, "it will be always important to intervene in individual cases".

Social Democrat Member Ing. Gartlehner ended the discussion by commenting that "the resolution...concerning the Lubicon Cree Indians led to hectic activities by the Canadian Embassy (to defeat the resolution)". He noted that it is also sometimes hard to explain to Austrians why the Austrian Government should be concerned about the plight of indigenous peoples elsewhere. However, he concluded, "the Lubicon Cree not only need support in non-discrimination but special support to survive as a small people".

The resolution then passed unanimously.

In reading the transcript of the discussion it is hard not to conclude that Austrian Parliamentarians understand more about the worsening plight of the Lubicons than many Canadians.

It is also very easy to see how people around the world see the abuse of human and aboriginal rights in Canada -- in spite of continuing Canadian Government efforts to perpetuate the myth that such things as the genocide of aboriginal peoples in the name of multi-billion dollar natural resource exploitation doesn't happen here.