“Abolish the Monarchy!”: Protests in Australia


Hundreds of activists have rallied in Australia to denounce the destructive effect of British colonisation on Indigenous peoples, as the country held a public holiday to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II. “Abolish the Monarchy” demonstrators gathered in cities, including Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, on Thursday, protesting against the persecution of Indigenous people since the British landed in Australia more than two centuries ago. Photographer: Joel Carrett/ EPN

Ellina G (Year 10), Editor

On Thursday September 22nd,  thousands of protestors rallied on the streets of Australia to oppose the National Day of Mourning for Queen Elizabeth and “racist colonial imperialism”. The Anti-Monarchy protestors, many of them attending rallies co-ordinated by Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR), argue that the Queen represents colonialism, dispossession and genocide.

The Day of Mourning, held in Australia after the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, was declared “a real insult to First Nations people” by Indigenous Australians. “Our mob have been calling for our Day of Mourning for over 80 years” said Ms Coe, a Wiradjury and Badu Island woman.

Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra all saw demonstrators gather, burning Australian flags and painting over murals for the Queen. WAR’s statement about the gatherings on Facebook, posted on Thursday, read “This is a stance against the continued crimes committed against marginalised First Nations, black, brown and Asian communities. We do not support benefactors of Stolenwealth (sic) and demand justice, truth and accountability for all. Justice for all.”

In Melbourne, thousands of people gathered at Birrarung Marr, which is Wurundjeri land, before moving through the CBD in protest against the day of mourning. Throughout the protests, Aboriginal leaders acted as speakers – calling for recognition of Indigenous suffering as a result of colonisation. This included the large crowd staged a sit-in at a busy intersection, where some protestors doused Australian flags in fake blood to promote their message.

Despite the rain in Brisbane on Thursday, the rally went ahead. In one of his speeches on the day, organiser Wayne Wharton stated that “If you go back through legal documents, and all the documents that incarcerated our people, it was her [the Queen’s] signature that was on them.” “She’s not innocent, in no way, shape, or form”. Demonstrations in Brisbane remained fairly peaceful and respectful, the event only becoming heated once it reached its final destination. To the mixed sound of police sirens and cheers, an Australian flag was burned.

In the Sydney CBD, hundreds of people met, accompanied by a large police presence. Speeches were made by various advocates, pointing to historical Indigenous rights protests, with a heavy focus on Indigenous deaths in custody. The protests moved to Hyde Park after the commencement of speeches.

“And our calls since 1938 have been silenced. So today for their Day of Mourning and their call of silence, we’re just giving them what they give us – total disrespect.” – Lizzy Jarret, speaking in Sydney.