From citizenship festivities to protests: Australia marks National Day
Updated: Jan 26, 2022, 04:25 PM(IST)
Thousands rallied against the mistreatment of Indigenous people across Australia on Wednesday as citizenship ceremonies took place to mark the country's national day intended to celebrate the birth of modern Australia.
The January 26 public holiday marks the date the British fleet sailed into Sydney Harbour in 1788 to start a penal colony, viewing the land as unoccupied despite encountering settlements.
For many Indigenous Australians, who trace their lineage on the continent back 50,000 years, it is "Invasion Day".
Land for colony taken from Indigenous inhabitants
Protesters highlight that a penal colony was built on land taken from Indigenous inhabitants without the negotiation of a treaty.
The lack of any treaty with Indigenous populations puts Australia out of step with comparable countries including the United States, Canada and New Zealand.
'Abolish Australia Day'
A statue in the city of Melbourne of British naval officer James Cook, who in 1770 charted Sydney’s coast, was defaced early Wednesday with red paint. Posters said: “Abolish Australia Day.”
'Change the date'
Many protesters at rallies across cities dressed in black to mourn the day, with some carrying the Aboriginal flag and "change the date" signs. Some protests were organised online amidst concerns of surging COVID-19 cases.
Prime minister honours traditional custodians
Speaking at the national flag-raising and citizenship ceremony in Australia's capital, Canberra, Prime Minister Scott Morrison honoured the traditional custodians of the country.
"We recognise Indigenous peoples right across our land from the Torres Strait Islander people in the north, to the people in Tasmania, to the people across the Nullarbor in Perth and the Larrakia people in the Top End," Morrison said.
"Like the country itself, Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are diverse, they're unique and they connect us through time."