Hundreds of protesters rallied in Australia today to demand the “abolition” of the monarchy, with some demonstrators burning the Australian flag and smearing red paint on the British consulate, just hours after a national memorial service in mourning. Queen Elizabeth II.
Anti-monarchy demonstrators gathered in cities including Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra protesting the persecution of Aboriginal people since the British landed in Australia more than two centuries ago.
In Melbourne, protesters cut up the Australian flag, which features the British Union Jack, and others in Brisbane burned their flags on top of a pile of burning newspapers.
Lidia Thorpe, a federal Greens senator of Aboriginal heritage in Australia’s parliament, accused the British monarchy of having “blood on its hands” in an address to protesters in Melbourne.
Australia is one of the few former British colonies that never made a treaty with its indigenous population.
The country declared the Thursday after the Queen’s death on September 8 a day of national mourning.
But Thorpe shouted to a crowd of protesters in Melbourne: ‘The Crown’s hands are bloody. Our people are still dying in this country every day. Crown’s boot is on our neck and we’re sick of it.”
The group then smeared blood-like red dye over the emblem at the British Consulate in Melbourne.
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters gathered in Brisbane, with one chanting: ‘Our message to England and the monarchy is to bloody burn the king.’
Greens senator Lidia Thorpe roused a large crowd of activists in Melbourne with an impassioned speech and a ‘bloodied’ hand (pictured)
Protest leaders burn Australian flag in intense display during ‘Abolish the Monarchy’ protests in Brisbane
Protesters with placards reading “Abolish the Monarchy” protest outside the British Consulate General office in Melbourne on Thursday
Anti-monarchy demonstrators gathered in cities including Sydney, Melbourne (pictured) and Canberra to protest the persecution of Aboriginal people since the British landed in Australia more than two centuries ago
Explosive protests across the country saw a group of elders burn Australian flags in Brisbane and activists in Melbourne smear the British consulate in red (pictured)
Protesters smeared red paint over the emblem at the British consulate at a rally in Melbourne (pictured)
In Sydney, many people gathered near the Queen Victoria statue in the city center before marching through the streets.
“I think the monarchy needs to realize that there is unfinished business here in Australia,” said Gwenda Stanley, a 49-year-old activist for the Gomeroi indigenous people.
“The monarch is nothing to mourn, it is something, if anything, that our people can look forward to,” she said, calling for the return of indigenous territories and restitution for “war crimes.”
“The monarchy needs to be abolished, it should have been many years ago,” said 24-year-old indigenous activist Paul Silva.
“First Nations in Australia are still fighting for their traditional lands,” he added.
“We demand that these lands be returned to the traditional owners.”
“We don’t need numbers, we just need passion,” said another protester in Brisbane, while others held a banner that read: “No kings, no cops, no capitalists”.
Several hundred protesters gathered in Australia today and called for the “abolition” of the monarchy
Activists burn newspapers and Australian flags at an ‘Abolish the Monarchy’ protest in Brisbane
During an anti-monarchy protest in Melbourne where activists marched through the CBD, police were spotted with a man on the ground.
Other protesters at the rally wore T-shirts calling for the abolition of Australia Day.
Australia Day, celebrated annually on January 26, is a controversial date in the calendar because it marks the anniversary of Britain’s colonization of the country – dubbed ‘Invasion Day’ by indigenous activists.
Arguments rage over how history should remember the fleet of 11 British ships carrying a human cargo of convicts that arrived at Port Jackson in present-day Sydney on January 26, 1788.
For indigenous Australians, Australia Day marks the beginning of white colonization and persecution, including the massacres of their population.
Protesters point out that the penal colony was built on land that was taken from indigenous people without treaty negotiations. Australia’s lack of any indigenous treaty has left it out of step with comparable countries, including the United States, Canada and New Zealand.
Indigenous elder Uncle Wayne Wharton wore one such T-shirt calling for the abolition of Australia Day as he stood alongside other Indigenous protesters as they lit the Australian flag in Brisbane.
Activist groups have been planning protests since the Queen’s death.
Protesters in Melbourne have demanded changes ranging from the abolition of the police force to a treaty with First Nations
People with placards attended an anti-monarchy protest in Melbourne on Thursday
A woman in Sydney held a sign calling for a treaty, a republic and the “decolonization” of the country
Protesters flooded Brisbane’s central streets with banners, flags, signs and T-shirts calling for the end of the monarchy (pictured)
An activist carried signs calling for a series of reforms during the first nationwide Day of Mourning protest (pictured)
Wayne Wharton (pictured centre) raised a flag to burn at an anti-monarchy protest in Brisbane
In Adelaide, a 31-year-old man had to be forcibly removed from Government House after he shouted anti-monarchy slogans and then refused to leave.
He was escorted from the premises and issued with a notice prohibiting him from re-entering the area for 24 hours.
Activist groups Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) and Fighting In Solidarity Towards Treaties were one group that organized the demonstration.
“This is a stand against the ongoing crimes against marginalized First Nations, Black, Brown and Asian communities. We do not support do-gooders or Stolen Wealth (sic) and demand justice, truth and accountability for all. Justice for all,” WAR wrote on Facebook.
‘This is a demonstration against racist colonial imperialism.’
Signs and banners at protests across the country called for a range of reforms, including the introduction of an Indigenous treaty, Australia becoming a republic and justice in response to reports of First Nations deaths in custody.
Large crowds gathered in Sydney on Thursday carrying signs and listening to speakers (pictured)
At a state memorial service for the queen in Canberra, Australian Governor-General David Hurley, who represents the monarchy, said he recognized the concerns of the first inhabitants of the island continent.
“Given the unifying role Her Majesty played, I recognize that her death has sparked mixed reactions from some in our community,” Hurley said.
“I recognize and respect that the response of many First Nations Australians is shaped by our colonial history and the broader path of reconciliation. This is the path we must take as a nation.”
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has promised a referendum in his first three-year term to give indigenous peoples the right to be consulted by lawmakers on matters that affect them, the so-called Voice of Parliament.
Although a staunch republican, Albanese has made the vote for Parliament his priority, dismissing questions about efforts for an Australian republic as inappropriate during a time of mourning.
The arrival of British settlers in 1788 marked the beginning of two centuries of discrimination and oppression of Australia’s indigenous people, who had inhabited the land for some 65,000 years.
Persecution of Indigenous peoples has been woven into Australian history, beginning with the decimation of the population after colonization and continuing with policies such as the forced removal of children.
Inequalities faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia remain high, with life expectancy years lower than other Australians and higher rates of death in custody.
In 2007, indigenous youth made up 59 percent of the total juvenile population, according to government records.
Last year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners made up 30 per cent of the total prison population.