(Sydney) Thousands of people protested across Australia on Thursday to mark the national holiday, a day increasingly mocked by indigenous communities who see it as a symbol of colonialism.
Australia’s National Day, commemorated on January 26, celebrates the arrival of the first European fleet in Sydney Harbor in 1788.
In recent years, the day has become an occasion for protests, with some Australians calling it “Invasion Day” as the starting point of a cultural genocide.
In central Sydney, Aboriginal activist Paul Silva supported the abolition of the national holiday.
“They invaded our lands, killed our families and enslaved our soldiers,” he said. “How shall we celebrate this day”?
For her part, local poet Lizzy Jarrett judged Sydney to be “ground zero for First Nations genocide”. “You think we’re getting angry? You’re not getting angry,” she began, addressing the crowd of several thousand people.
Similar rallies were held in major cities across the country.
Australian historian Lyndall Ryan estimates that more than 10,000 Aborigines were killed in 400 massacres since British settlement began.
Of Australia’s 25 million people, approximately 900,000 now identify as members of an Aboriginal community.
The question of official recognition for these communities, which was not mentioned in the country’s constitution adopted in 1901, divides the country today.
Australia’s centre-left government has argued in favor of the amendment, unlike the Conservative camp, which sees it as unnecessary.
In a mandatory referendum this year, Australians will be invited to vote on an amendment that would give Indigenous communities a “voice” in parliament.
Until the 1960s, women did not have the right to vote in some states and territories of the country.
Inequalities facing Indigenous communities are still visible: their life expectancy is years shorter than that of other Australians.
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