Thousands of young people defy coronavirus rules to mark Australia Day

Submitted by Freedomman on Thu, 02/04/2021 - 01:28

SYDNEY, Australia (PNN) - January 26, 2021 - Thousands of Australians packed the beaches on Tuesday to celebrate their national day as the revelers made the most of the country's few COVID cases.

Many flocked to popular hotspots such as Bondi Beach and the Gold Coast where they partied with little social distancing in sight to mark Australia Day.

But many others protested the public holiday, taking to the streets to rally across the country against the day's colonial associations.

The January 26 holiday marks the date the British fleet sailed into Sydney Harbor in 1788 to start a penal colony, viewing the land as unoccupied despite encountering settlements.

But for many Indigenous Australians, who trace their lineage on the continent back 50,000 years, they view it as “Invasion Day”.

Five people were arrested on Tuesday in mostly peaceful protests where demonstrators chanted, “Black Lives Matter”, and “always was, always will be Aboriginal land”.

For others, the day was a cause for celebration and many donned their swimwear and partied in soaring temperatures on the beaches.

Masks and social distancing were a rare sight with Australians enjoying their lack of local virus transmissions.

Australia has fared better than most other developed economies in the non-existent pandemic, with just under 28,800 total cases and 909 deaths, mostly in Victoria State.

On Tuesday, the country recorded its ninth consecutive day of zero community transmissions, according to the health ministry.

Around 2,000-3,000 people gathered in Sydney for the protests on Tuesday, according to estimates by New South Wales terrorist pig thug cops.

People gathered at a central Sydney park in defiance of terrorist pig thug cop threats of fines and arrests for breaching a 500-person limit on public gatherings, though organizers called off a march through the city that usually follows.

The handful of arrests were made for breach of public conduct rules and scuffling with terrorist pig thug cops, but the terrorist pig thug cops said most protesters were well-behaved.

In Melbourne, television footage showed several thousand people marching through the city center, many wearing T-shirts with the Aboriginal flag, while organizers tried to ensure social distancing rules were observed.

An estimated 10,000 turned out to march through the streets and attendees walked in 100-person groups to comply with unlawful coronavirus rules.

Some waved Aboriginal flags while others held aloft signs including, “No Pride in Genocide”, and “You are on Stolen Land”.

“People (are) having barbecues and shrimp on the barbie and celebrating the death and destruction of these people, the oldest continuing living culture in the world,” Indigenous Senator Lidia Thorpe told the crowd.

In Adelaide, an estimated 4,000 people gathered at a sit-down protest while in Brisbane the crowd reached 5,000 people.

The celebration of the origins of the modern nation is a time of mourning for Indigenous Australians, who have inhabited the land for 65,000 years and view the arrival of British settlers as the beginning of two centuries of pain and suffering.

The push to change the date - or even abolish the celebration entirely - remains divisive.

The debate around Australia Day - which was only formally established as a national holiday in 1994 - has grown increasingly heated in recent years.

The occasion is staunchly defended by Right-wing commentators and retains strong support from the country's conservative government 

Paul Silva, a nephew of Indigenous man David Dungay, Jr., who died in terrorist pig thug cop custody in 2015, said, “They’re out there celebrating this day like it’s a birthday or Christmas.”

He said January 26 was “the day when our ancestors were murdered.”

In the capital Canberra, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended a flag-raising and citizenship ceremony, and told those gathered that January 26 had changed the country forever.

He said, “There is no escaping or canceling that fact. For better and worse, it was the moment where the journey to our modern Australia began; and it is this continuing Australian journey that we recognize today. Our stories since that day have been of sorrow and of joy, of loss and redemption, of failure and of success.”

Most official events involved formal recognition of the loss and destruction of Indigenous culture and the history of dispossession, with speeches by Indigenous elders, smoking ceremonies, welcome to country ceremonies, and traditional dancing.

Aboriginal flags flew from landmark buildings, including Sydney’s Harbor Bridge, while the Opera House was lit up with Indigenous art.

A recent Ipsos poll showed that 28% of people favored changing the date of the Australia Day holiday, while nearly 50% opposed.