Aboriginal activists declare ‘we will never celebrate Australia Day’ and demand to be ‘liberated from this country’ as 1,000 protesters swarm Sydney ‘Invasion Day’ rally
Aboriginal activists have declared they will ‘never celebrate Australia Day’ and want to be ‘liberated from this country’ in speeches to more than 1,000 ‘Invasion Day’ protesters in Sydney.
Protesters swarmed into The Domain near the CBD from 9am despite coronavirus restrictions preventing the huge marches of last year and ones before.
Up to 100 police separated participants into two groups of 500, the maximum allowed protest size, with threats to break up the event, issue fines, and make arrests should rules be broken.
Covid marshals asked everyone to sign in to the event with a QR code and to wear masks on arrival, and offered hand sanitiser as throngs continued to arrive before the speeches started.
‘We are advocating so that Australia Day is abolished. We will never celebrate this day,’ Indigenous activist Vanessa Roberts told the swelling crowd in a powerful address.
‘We will achieve liberation in this country, and if it’s not me, it’ll be my grandchildren’.
Another speaker declared: ‘Today is triggering, today is traumatic, today is sad. Go home today and love yourself’
‘You are living in a coronavirus bubble where you are being told what to do. This is our world’
‘I want everyone here to go on social media, talk to everyone, your bus driver, your Uber driver, a post office worker, educate them. Tell them decolonisation is coming.’
Organisers of the protest in the Domain made a last-ditch effort to lobby the state government and raise the limit on public gatherings from 500 under Covid restriction to 3,000.
Aboriginal Legal Service made an application to the Supreme Court to get the cap raised but the request was not granted.
The group are demonstrating against Australia’s Day celebrations and the plight Indigenous communities have faced at the hands of colonial settlers.
Officers could be seen discussing and planning how to separate the crowd in order to stay in-line with Covid restrictions.
Rally organisers are requiring all demonstrators to sign in with QR code and are also providing face masks, hand sanitiser and enforcing social distancing.
Covid Marshalls are guarding the entry points where protesters are funnelling in.
But with twice the capacity legally allowed already on scene, organisers, Covid marshalls and police have split the demonstrators up into two groups of 500.
‘Please spread out, we don’t want police to ruin our day,’ event organisers shouted at the group.
Protesters could be heard chanting ‘Always was, always will be aboriginal land’ and ‘No justice no peace no racist police’.
Scott Morrison spoke to Sydney radio earlier this morning where he discussed the contribution Indigenous Australians have made to the nation.
‘One of the greatest overcomers of all of our people has been our First Nations people that have had to overcome this position and they’ve had to overcome colonisation, they are a thriving surviving community,’ the Prime Minister told 2GB.
‘The world’s oldest living culture. Now I think this story of overcoming is one of, if not the greatest, Australian stories.
‘It is one that we can all combine together and acknowledge that whether it’s our first nations people, or the convicts, or the settlers that came or many that have since come and made us the most successful immigration country in the world.’