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Thousands hold 'Invasion Day' rallies in Australia to support indigenous community

People participate in an Invasion Day rally in Brisbane, Australia, with the Australian Aboriginal Flag along with the Palestinian flag, as they show solidarity for Palestine as well, on Jan 26, 2024. (Photo by EPA-EFE)

Thousands of demonstrators have observed Australia’s national day by holding “Invasion Day” rallies to express their solidarity with the indigenous community of the nation. 

They held rallies in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Hobart, and in other major cities on Friday, as they waved Indigenous flags.

The controversial national day is rejected by indigenous Australians, who make up 3.8 percent of the country’s population, as the day coincides with the arrival of the European settlers at the Sydney Harbor in 1788, marking injustices and violence suffered through colonizers, which almost erased the Aboriginal population from Australia.

“Australia Day is Dead!” Indigenous activist Gwenda Stanley chanted into the loudspeaker, as a crowd of thousands broke into applause.

"One of the strong themes that we are marching in support of today is just find a more appropriate day to celebrate the nation," a protester, named James Cummings, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Another Aboriginal elder, Adrian Burragubba, said he was at the rally to "tell people that Australia Day doesn't mean anything to us".

"It's the day of Aboriginal sovereignty," Burragubba was quoted as saying by Reuters.

January 26 has been celebrated as Australia’s national day since 1994, making the choice of date highly controversial, which Aussies observe with participating in recreational activities.

The indigenous Australians carry a history of more than 65,000 years and are counted among the most disadvantaged people in the country who face several issues including poor health and education.

The governing Labor Party, led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, has dismissed the idea of changing the date of Australia Day, despite numerous calls for change.

He told a citizenship ceremony in Canberra on Friday that the day was "our chance to pause and reflect on everything that we have achieved as a nation".

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