As debate rages over whether January 26 should be Australia Day, some Indigenous leaders are protesting against what they call 'invasion day'.
Source:
AAP, SBS
26 Jan 2011 - 2:57 PM  UPDATED 23 Aug 2013 - 4:56 PM

Protests were held in many Australian capital cities.

In Sydney, about 200 people marched from Redfern to the CBD, asking for Australia Day to be moved to another date.

Protest organiser Monique Wiseman says January 26 marks the invasion of Australia as 'terra nullius' and the "beginning of killings and a policy of assimilation".

She says another date should be chosen through a process of consultation between white and Indigenous Australians.

Elders from the Northern Territory held speeches in Redfern against the ongoing federal government's intervention, claiming it is racist and pushing people to move away from their lands.

Jay McDonald, an activist with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, in Launceston told Indymedia Australia Day is traditionally the most racist day of the year for Aboriginal people.

"Invasion Day, as it should be called, celebrates the dispossession of land, culture, and way of life of Aborigines.

He said true reconciliation cannot be achieved "if we continue to celebrate the gains of one race at the expense of another".

"Invasion Day is a day to remember the wrongs that were committed against Aborigines, a day to remember the injustices forced upon one race of human beings by another.

This is no day for celebrating; it's a day for mourning, a time to reflect, and a time to steel ourselves for the ongoing battle for a better society," Mr McDonald said.

Ex-PM's nephew joins protesters

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd's nephew took to Brighton Beach to protest against Australia's treatment of Aborigines and refugees.

As swimmers crossed the finish line for the Great Australia Day Swim at the Middle Brighton Pier, artist Van Thanh Rudd and his small crew held up a banner nearby which read: "Where indigenous people and refugees finish last."

Under the banner, a mannequin of a dark-skinned girl was partly submerged in the sand, surrounded by barbed wire and Australian flags.

Mr Rudd, the son of the prime minister's brother Malcolm and his wife Tuoi, said he hoped to raise awareness of Australia's poor treatment of indigenous people and refugees.

"Australia Day is not a celebration of democracy, nor is it a celebration of freedom," he said.

"Right from the beginning on Invasion Day in 1788, we have a prison system basically for the Aboriginals since then and it's carried on to this day. We also have a prison-like system for asylum seekers and refugees.

Those who do get to make it to this country are imprisoned for no wrongdoing whatsoever. "The government also takes part in wars that exacerbate these problems overseas. "That's what we're celebrating this Australia Day.

It's not what we're led to believe it's about. "What we hope to achieve generally out of this is, number one, more awareness of what should be called invasion day instead of Australia Day."

On Australia Day last year, Mr Rudd walked into the Australian Open precinct wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit in protest against racism in Australia and attacks on Indians.

Rudd is a member of the Revolutionary Socialist Party and ran against new prime minister Julia Gillard in her safe Labor seat of Lalor.

In 2008, the City of Melbourne rejected one of Mr Rudd's paintings that depicted Ronald McDonald setting fire to an image of outspoken Buddhist monk Thich Quang Durc with the Olympic torch.

'Invasion Day' protests held

"Invasion Day, as it should be called, celebrates the dispossession of land, culture, and way of life of Aborigines, "Jay McDonald told IndyMedia.

McDonald is an activist with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, Launceston.

"True reconciliation cannot be achieved and a just society cannot be built if we continue to celebrate the gains of one race at the expense of another.

"Invasion Day is a day to remember the wrongs that were committed against Aborigines, a day to remember the injustices forced upon one race of human beings by another.

"This is no day for celebrating; it's a day for mourning, a time to reflect, and a time to steel ourselves for the ongoing battle for a better society," Mr McDonald said.