Ex-Panther urges Olympics boycott

Courier Mail, 3rd September 1997

by James Swanick

American black activist Lorenzo Ervin has called for an international boycott of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, and is using the Internet to rally support.

Mr Ervin, the former Black Panther movement member who was threatened with deportation from Australia in July, has given a list of ‘crimes’ of the Australian ‘white racist regime’ to international figures including US President Bill Clinton and British MPs.

In a four page letter, Mr Ervin accuses Australia of the genocide of 500,000 Aborigines and having racial policies little different from those of Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa.

The letter calls for the world’s black community to send donations to a body called Boycott 2000 Coalition and to encourage countries to impose economic sanctions on Australia.

‘We want all anti-racist and human rights organisations to join us in an international campaign against Australia and especially an economic boycott in support of Aboriginal inhabitants of the country,’ the letter reads.

Mr Ervin, who was initially granted an American visa despite serving 13 years in jail for hijacking an aircraft to Cuba in 1969, also refers to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party as a ‘fascist, white supremist electoral movement’.

He claims Australia has one of the highest levels of police shootings of civilisations in the world and a reputation for police brutality, especially against the poor and members of racial minorities.

He says coloured people coming to Australia for any purpose are searched, accused of ‘dealing drugs’ and summarily deported and jailed.

‘The Olympics will only increase the number of such cases,’ he says.

‘Begin a sanctions campaign in your country to convince the government authorities and business associations in your country to cut off all military aid, trade and economic support, and other foreign aid to Australia until it recognises the human rights of the Aboriginal people, gives them reparations for centuries of abuse, and recognises their title to land.’

He urges people to boycott Australian products such as Foster’s beer and Qantas.

A spokesman for Prime Minister John Howard said Mr Ervin might ‘have an axe to grind for his detainment in Australia’.

‘Australia is committed to a non-discriminatory immigration policy,’ the spokesman said. ‘Ervin’s claims are simply ludicrous and should not be given any weight whatsoever.’

A spokesman for Sydney Olympics organising committee president and Minister for the Olympics Michael Knight said Mr Ervin’s comments were ‘ridiculous’. He was ‘100% certain’ that no country would boycott the 2000 Olympics.

‘The policy here is that that sort of threat is not accepted in good faith,’ he said.

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