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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Two statues of colonial figures were vandalised in Melbourne earlier this week ahead of the contentious national holiday. — AFP pic
SYDNEY, Jan 26 — Thousand’s marked Australia’s national day today with “Invasion Day” rallies in support of the country’s Indigenous community, many of whom oppose celebrating the day a British fleet sailed into Sydney Harbour in 1788.
Australia Day commemorates the day Britain established the state of New South Wales a penal colony, arriving in what is now the state capital Sydney with a “First Fleet” bringing colonists and convicts.
Many people celebrate the holiday with barbecues and trips to the beach, and it is also a popular date for immigrants to receive their Australian citizenship.
But many Indigenous Australians, who make up 3.8 per cent of the country’s 26 million people, reject the holiday as marking the start of injustices suffered since European colonisation.
In Sydney, thousands of protesters, many waving Indigenous flags, gathered in the city centre at an “Invasion Day” rally before a march that closed nearby city streets.
Similar rallies took place in other state capitals including in Victoria’s Melbourne where organiser Tarneen Onus Browne said “we need to make sure we get rid of this date”.
“We can’t celebrate genocide any more,” Browne told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Indigenous Australians are among the country’s most disadvantaged people and face issues including poor health and education outcomes and high incarceration rates.
Despite calls to change the date of Australia Day from January 26, such a move has been ruled out by the governing Labor Party led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Albanese told a citizenship ceremony in Canberra on Friday that the day was “our chance to pause and reflect on everything that we have achieved as a nation”.
Two statues of colonial figures were vandalised in Melbourne earlier this week ahead of the contentious national holiday. — Reuters
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