Scores of people, mainly from the Indigenous group, descended onto the streets in major parts of Australia for the “abolish monarchy” protest on the national day of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday.
The demonstration was called by the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) and Fighting In Solidarity Towards Treaties to decry “past atrocities and the ongoing impact of British colonisation in Australia”.
The protests are being held in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra on the day of a national public holiday.
“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’ (a portmanteau of stole and commonwealth) and demand justice, truth and accountability for all. Justice for all,” WAR wrote on Facebook.
“This is a demonstration against racist colonial imperialism.”
The protesters demanded the return of land “to the rightful sovereign owners”, an end to indigenous deaths in custody, and truth, accountability and justice.
“While they mourn the Queen, we mourn everything her regime stole from us: our children, our land, our loved one’s lives, our sacred sites, our histories,” WAR said.
In Sydney, people assembled near a statue of Queen Victoria before marching through the streets, reports AFP.
“I think the monarchy needs to be aware that there’s unfinished business happening here in Australia,” Gwenda Stanley, a 49-year-old activist of the Indigenous Gomeroi people, was quoted as saying.
“The monarch is nothing to mourn about, it is something if anything for our people to rejoice,” she added.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Governor-General David Hurley, who represents the monarchy, said he acknowledges 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 in Canberra.
“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.”
Earlier, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had promised a referendum in the first three-year of his term to give Indigenous peoples the right to be consulted by lawmakers on matters that affect them.
(With inputs from agencies)
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