Five arrested as Australia Day protests draw thousands

27 Janvier, 2021, 01:11 | Auteur: Christine Menetries
  • This statue of Captain James Cook was sprayed with slogans in 2017 in protest of Australia day

For now, at least ten people have been arrested, and the arrests were made in Sydney at a rally attended by around 2,000 people, despite rules limiting the numbers allowed to gather at 500.

Thousands of people were expected to defy public health concerns and protest against the mistreatment of Australia's Indigenous people as the country marked its national day on Tuesday on the anniversary of the arrival of the British First Fleet in 1788.

But for many indigenous Australians, it's a day of grief and pain and protests are part of a growing campaign to change the date and nature of Australia's national day.

"Until they abolish Australia Day then maybe Invasion Day will be a bit quieter", said Lizzie Jarrett, an Indigenous Australian protest organiser in Sydney.

Chants of "Sovereignty was never ceded" and "No justice, no peace" rang out, while others held up placards with slogans including "Not a date to celebrate" and "Black Lives Matter".

Police in Melbourne detained one counter-protester, a man wearing an Australian flag as a cape and a shirt supporting the violent U.S. far-right group Proud Boys, according to an AFP photographer. "And the intergenerational impacts of that are still being felt today", Gomeroi man Dylan Booth told Agence France-Presse.

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In Melbourne, television footage showed several thousand people marching through the city centre, many wearing T-shirts with the Aboriginal flag, while organisers tried to ensure social distancing rules were observed.

Some waved Aboriginal flags, while others held aloft signs including "No Pride in Genocide" and "You are on Stolen Land".

Police in Melbourne detained one counter-protester, a man wearing an Australian flag as a cape and a shirt supporting the violent U.S. far-right group Proud Boys, according to an AFP photographer.

The occasion is staunchly defended by right-wing commentators and retains strong support from the country's conservative government.

While thousands of people flocked to beaches and picnic spots around the country to celebrate the national day, many official events were cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions. Calls to change the date of Australia Day have grown in recent years but Prime Minister Scott Morrison has dismissed them, arguing the date had changed the country forever, "for better or for worse".

"And it is this continuing Australian journey that we recognise today".

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