MELBOURNE, Jan 26 (NNN-AAP) – Tens of thousands of people attended “Invasion Day” rallies, held across Australia’s major cities, calling for changing or abolishing the date, as the country celebrates its national holiday, Australia Day.

In Melbourne, a large crowd assembled outside the state’s Parliament House this morning, holding placards and the Indigenous flag, with loud cheers breaking out.

“I believe that Jan 26 should be recognised as a day of mourning, as opposed to Australia Day celebration, because it’s not a celebration for the indigenous people,” one of the protesters, Amilia, said.

“I think this day represents a massive genocide that happened to our First Nations, indigenous Aboriginal Australians … Some people think we can change the date, but most people just want to abolish the date, or change it to a day of mourning where people can actually cry and remember what actually happened instead of celebrate.”

According to local media reports, similar scenes were seen across Australia’s other major capital cities.

In Sydney, thousands of protesters packed into Belmore Park. Marchers were seen carrying placards that read: “stop the genocide.”

A candlelight dawn service began in Brisbane at 4.00 a.m., in Musgrave Park, followed by a flag-raising ceremony, at Jagera Community Hall. The crowd kicked off the Invasion Day march around 11:30 a.m., with protesters chanting: “End black deaths in custody!”

Since 1994, Australia Day has been marked on Jan 26, as a national public holiday in every state and territory. However, on Jan 26, 1788, Arthur Phillip raised the British flag at Sydney Cove, to claim the land as a British Colony. The celebration is regarded as a painful reminder of the beginning of British colonisation and the dispossession of First Nations peoples.

The public holiday referred to as “Invasion Day” for the indigenous communities, sparked heated debates and rallies in recent years, calling for a change or abolishment of the date to make the national day more inclusive of Indigenous Australians.




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