Marches to Mark Indigenous Day of Mourning
26 January 2016 at 7:19 am
Indigenous Australians and supporters will take part in Invasion Day marches in several capital cities today in opposition to the national holiday – a day they describe as a national day of mourning.
The Indigenous Social Justice Association, the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy and other organisations have arranged for the Invasion Day march to begin in Redfern and end in Sydney’s CBD. Thousands were also expected to march in other capital cities around Australia.
The groups said they were campaigning for social justice and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders rights, as well as protesting the celebration of a day that marked the British invasion in 1788.
“Our Invasion Day march will indeed be a peaceful one, but we of course, retain the absolute right to stop the violence of racism and prejudice towards anyone,” organiser Ken Canning said.
“Governments and their hand-maidens have been quite successful in turning Invasion Day into a day of ‘celebration’. Meanwhile, they continue to forget that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to suffer and diminish in numbers without any rights other than the rights of assimilation.
“This injustice must be overturned and brutality of the colonialism that we are all forced to live by must be brought to the forefront.”
NSW Aboriginal Land Council Chair Roy Ah-See also appealed to young Aboriginal people to take inspiration from the leaders of the 1938 Day of Mourning.
He said the Day of Mourning was a turning point in political advocacy for Aboriginal people in Australia.
“On January 26, 1938, Jack Patten, William Ferguson and William Cooper laid an important foundation that would inform the way we fought for our civil rights and Land Rights,” Ah-See said.
“The Day of Mourning challenged the so-called celebration of Australia Day and drew attention to 150 years of misery and discrimination endured by Aboriginal people.
“In addition to mourning the loss of our country and our freedom, the leaders of the Day of Mourning issued a manifesto for a new deal based on self-determination and equality.”
He said the courage and determination of those who created the Day of Mourning must not be forgotten.
“Last year we had the opportunity to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Ride,” he said.
“Let’s make it our responsibility to ensure the significance of the Day of Mourning inspires us to fight for that new deal – for justice, not charity, for Australia to be proud of Aboriginal culture and for self-determination for Aboriginal people.”