Blue Rodeo performs while Oils protest

Rating: NNNNNHUMAN RIGHTSThose miffed at Canuck band Blue Rodeo for schlepping Down Under to perform at the Games in Sydney.

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Those miffed at Canuck band Blue Rodeo for schlepping Down Under to perform at the Games in Sydney are taking note of their Aussie counterparts Midnight Oil and their daring stunt at Sunday’s closing ceremonies.

The Oils, well known for bringing global attention to the plight of Aborigines and impoverished workers, came onstage dressed in black suits adorned with the word “Sorry” printed prominently in big white letters. Then they played Beds Are Burning, which is about Aboriginal genocide and the theft of native land by the Canberra government.

The move was clearly a swipe at Aussie PM John Howard and his refusal to apologize to the “stolen generation” of Aborigines who as children were snatched away from their families. The band’s very public stunt was all the more brave given Olympic regulations banning the wearing of clothing bearing political, religious or cultural messages.

The band’s Peter Garrett tells NOW from Australia, “We saw one of the essential themes of the Olympics — the opening ceremony, Kathy Freeman’s victory — as a recognition of the extraordinary culture of indigenous people. The only thing that hadn’t been raised was the question of the apology, so we figured we would do it.”

Garrett says he doesn’t believe Blue Rodeo were obliged to boycott the affair. “Some AboriginaI groups did boycott, but that wasn’t the majority view. I would think criticisms of Blue Rodeo were a little wide of the mark.”

A spokesperson for Blue Rodeo, who are on tour in Quebec, agreed to contact the band but by press time no response was forthcoming.

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