Protest marks Aus­tralia Day Call for abo­li­tion of white colo­nial cel­e­bra­tion

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

MELBOURNE: Thou­sands took to the streets on Aus­tralia Day yes­ter­day to protest against the cel­e­bra­tion of the start of white coloni­sa­tion and the per­se­cu­tion of Abo­rig­i­nal Aus­tralians 230 years ago.

Jan­uary 26 marks the an­niver­sary of the first Bri­tish set­tlers land­ing in Syd­ney Cove, New South Wales, in 1788.

How­ever, for indige­nous Aus­tralians, the date means the start of op­pres­sion, in­clud­ing dozens of mas­sacres through­out the 19th and early 20th cen­turies.

Or­gan­is­ers said more than 25 000 peo­ple, Abo­rig­i­nal and white, had joined a demon­stra­tion in Melbourne, Aus­tralia’s sec­ond big­gest city, march­ing up to State Par­lia­ment House chant­ing “Al­ways was, al­ways will be Abo­rig­i­nal land”.

One of the or­gan­is­ers, Ken Can­ning, of the Fight­ing In Re­sis­tance Equally ac­tivist group, said he hoped the ral­lies would in­crease aware­ness.

“The idea here is to en­gage the gen­eral pub­lic be­cause our po­lit­i­cal spec­trum around the coun­try… ig­nores the calls of Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple,” he said.

At least 3 000 protested in Syd­ney, with ral­lies also held in Ho­bart, Ade­laide and other cities. There were no re­ports of vi­o­lence.

Out of a pop­u­la­tion of 23 mil­lion in Aus­tralia, there are about 700 000 Abo­rig­ines, whose an­ces­tors date back about 50 000 years be­fore Bri­tish colonis­ers ar­rived.

Abo­rig­ines suf­fer dis­pro­por­tion­ately high rates of sui­cide, al­co­hol abuse, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and im­pris­on­ment.

Pro­test­ers called for a treaty be­tween indige­nous and non- indige­nous Aus­tralians, recog­ni­tion in the con­sti­tu­tion, and an end to in­equal­ity.

They also want the date of Aus­tralia Day to be changed, or abol­ished al­to­gether.

Whether to change the date of Aus­tralia Day has been a sub­ject of de­bate for many years, as has whether to change the Aus­tralian flag, which in­cludes the Bri­tish Union Jack.

Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull ruled out a change of flag.

“That’s the one they have on their back­packs when they’re trav­el­ling over­seas, that’s the flag that our sol­diers have on their shoul­der patches, that is our flag,” he told re­porters.

“So, I think the Aus­tralian flag will be fly­ing over Par­lia­ment House long af­ter all of us have shuf­fled off the stage of his­tory.” – Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)


Pro­test­ers hold plac­ards and Abo­rig­i­nal flags as they par­tic­i­pate in what or­gan­is­ers called an ‘in­va­sion day’ rally in cen­tral Syd­ney yes­ter­day on Aus­tralia Day, which marks the ar­rival of Bri­tain’s First Fleet in 1788.


Pas­sen­gers aboard a ferry par­tic­i­pate in cel­e­bra­tions for Aus­tralia Day which for many marks the start of white op­pres­sive coloni­sa­tion and suf­fer­ing for the Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple.

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