‘Our message to England and the Monarchy is to burn!’ Protesters in Australia smear themselves in red paint and torch their national flag as they demand the Monarchy is abolished over ‘stolen land’
Hundreds of protesters rallied in Australia today and called for the monarchy to be ‘abolished’, with some demonstrators burning the Australian flag and smearing red paint on the British consulate, just hours after a national memorial service was held to mourn Queen Elizabeth II.
‘Abolish the Monarchy’ demonstrators gathered in cities including Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, protesting the persecution of Indigenous people since the British landed in Australia more than two centuries ago.
In Melbourne, protesters cut up the Australian flag, which includes the British Union Jack, while others in Brisbane set their flags on fire on top of a pile of flaming newspapers.
In an address to protesters in Melbourne, Lidia Thorpe, a Federal Greens senator in the Australian parliament of Aboriginal heritage, accused the British monarchy of having ‘blood on their hands’.
Australia is one of the few former British colonies that never struck a treaty with the Indigenous population.
The country marked Thursday as a day of national mourning following the Queen’s death on September 8.
But Thorpe shouted to the crowd of protesters in Melbourne: ‘The Crown has blood on their hands. Our people are still dying in this country every single day. The Crown’s boot is on our neck and we’re sick of it.’
The group then smeared red dye, resembling blood, over an emblem on the British Consulate in Melbourne.
Entre-temps, in Brisbane, hundreds of protesters gathered, with one shouting: ‘Our message to England and the Monarchy is to f**king burn.’
Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe roused a large crowd of activists in Melbourne with an impassioned speech and ‘bloodstained’ hand (illustré)
Protest leaders set an Australian flag on fire in an intense display during Brisbane’s ‘Abolish the Monarchy’ protests
Protestors holding placards which read ‘abolish the monarchy’ protest outside the British Consulate General office on Thursday in Melbourne
‘Abolish the Monarchy’ demonstrators gathered in cities including Sydney, Melbourne (illustré) and Canberra, protesting the persecution of Indigenous people since the British landed in Australia more than two centuries ago
The explosive protests across the country saw a group of elders burn Australian flags in Brisbane and activists in Melbourne smear red dye on the British Consulate (illustré)
Protesters smeared red dye over an emblem at the British Consulate in the Melbourne rally (illustré)
In Sydney, scores of people came together near a statue of Queen Victoria in the city centre before marching through the streets.
‘I think the monarchy needs to be aware that there’s unfinished business happening here in Australia,’ said Gwenda Stanley, a 49-year-old activist of the Indigenous Gomeroi people.
‘The monarch is nothing to mourn about, it is something if anything for our people to rejoice,’ dit-elle, calling for the return of Indigenous lands 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 people within Australia are still fighting for their traditional lands,’ he added.
‘We demand that they return those lands to the traditional owners.’
‘We don’t need the numbers, we just need the passion,’ another protester said in Brisbane, while other demonstrators held a banner which read: ‘No Kings, No Cops, No Capitalists’.
Hundreds of protesters rallied in Australia today and called for the monarchy to be ‘abolished’
Activists set fire to newspapers and Australian flags at Brisbane’s ‘Abolish the Monarchy’ protest
Police were seen with a man on the ground during the Melbourne anti-monarchy protest which saw activists marching down the CBD
Other protesters at the rally wore shirts calling for the national Australia Day to be abolished.
Australia Day, held on January 26 every year, is a controversial date in the calendar because it marks the anniversary of British colonisation of the country – with Indigenous activists naming it ‘Invasion Day’.
Argument rages over how history should remember a fleet of 11 British ships carrying a human cargo of convicts arriving at Port Jackson in present-day Sydney on January 26, 1788.
For indigenous Australians, Australia Day marks the start of white colonisation and persecution, including massacres of their people.
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.
Indigenous elder Uncle Wayne Wharton wore one such shirt calling for Australia Day to be abolished, while standing next to other Indigenous protesters as they set an Australian flag alight in Brisbane.
Activist groups had been planning the protests since the Queen’s death.
Protestors in Melbourne demanded changes ranging from abolishing the police to the establishment of a treaty with First Nations peoples
People holding placards participate in an anti-monarchy protest in Melbourne on Thursday
A woman in Sydney held a sign asking for a treaty, a republic and for the country to ‘de-colonise’
Protestors swarmed the central streets of Brisbane with banners, flags, signs and T-shirts all calling for an end to the monarchy (illustré)
Activist carried signs and called for a range of reforms during the first of nationwide national day of mourning protests (illustré)
Wayne Wharton (pictured centre) held up a flag for burning at Brisbane’s anti-monarchy protest
In Adelaide, a 31-year-old man had to be forcibly removed from Government House after he chanted anti-monarchy slogans and then refused to leave.
He was escorted from the premises and issued with a trespass notice not to re-enter the area for 24 hours.
Activist groups Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) and Fighting In Solidarity Towards Treaties were one group who organised the demonstrations.
‘This is a stance against the continued crimes committed against marginalised First Nations, black, brown and Asian communities. We do not support benefactors or Stolenwealth (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 held at the protests across the country called for a range of reforms including the introduction of an Indigenous treaty, Australia to become a republic and for justice in response to reports of First Nations deaths in custody.
Large crowds gathered in Sydney holding signs and listening to speakers on Thursday (illustré)
At a national memorial service for the queen in Canberra, Australia’s Governor-General David Hurley, who represents the monarchy, said he recognised the concerns of the island continent’s first inhabitants.
‘Considering the unifying role her majesty played, I acknowledge that her passing has prompted different reactions for some in our community,’ Hurley said.
‘I’m conscious and respect that the response of many First Nations Australians is shaped by our colonial history and broader reconciliation journey. That is a journey we as a nation must complete.’
Australia’s 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, a so-called Voice to Parliament.
Though an avowed republican, Albanese has made the Voice to Parliament his priority, rejecting questions about a push for an Australian republic as inappropriate during a period of mourning.
The arrival of British settlers in 1788 signalled the start of two centuries of discrimination and oppression of Indigenous Australians who have inhabited the land for an estimated 65,000 années.
The persecution of Indigenous peoples has been braided into Australia’s history, beginning with the decimation of the population after colonisation and continuing through policies such as the forced removal of children.
The inequalities facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia remain stark, with life expectancies years shorter than that of other Australians and a higher rate of deaths in custody.
In 2007, Indigenous youths accounted for 59 per cent of the total juvenile detention population, according to government records.
Last year, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners made up 30 per cent of all prisoners.