Thousands of Australians yesterday defied COVID-19 disease prevention rules to protest the country’s national day, held on the anniversary of British colonization of the vast continent that its Aboriginal population marks as “Invasion Day.”
Officially recognized as Australia Day, the day also sees annual rallies drawing attention to the injustices faced by Aborigines and calling on the government to change the date of the national holiday.
The celebration of the origins of the modern nation is a time of mourning for Australia’s Aborigines, who have inhabited the land for 65,000 years and view the arrival of British settlers in 1788 as the beginning of two centuries of pain and suffering.
Thousands of people gathered at a central Sydney park in defiance of police threats of fines and arrests for breaching a 500-person limit on public gatherings, although organizers called off a march through the city that usually follows.
Police said that five people were arrested, including one who was charged with assaulting a police officer, but praised the crowds as largely peaceful.
Authorities earlier refused to waive the cap on numbers, despite no new cases being detected in Sydney for more than a week.
Chants of “Sovereignty was never ceded” and “No justice, no peace” rang out, while others held up placards with slogans including “Not a date to celebrate” and “Black Lives Matter.”
“For us it represents cultural genocide. Our families being ripped apart — years and years of disease and famine — and the intergenerational impacts of that are still being felt today,” Gomeroi man Dylan Booth said.
Australia last year failed to meet most key targets on closing the health and well-being gap between Aboriginal Australians and the rest of the population, with soaring incarceration rates among Aboriginal communities and a life expectancy about eight years less than the national average.
Thousands also attended protests in other major cities across the country, with rally organizers encouraging attendees to wear masks and maintain social distancing where possible.
In Melbourne, where an estimated 10,000 turned out to march through the streets, attendees walked in 100-person groups to comply with COVID-19 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,” The Age reported Aboriginal Lidia Thorpe, an Australian senator, as telling the crowd.
‘LOCAL TRANSMISSION’: The nation reported 11 new cases, including seven local infections in the north, the highest daily number of cases since the pandemic began The COVD-19 situation has entered the “local transmission” stage and enhanced disease prevention measures have been implemented until June 8, the Central Epidemic Command Center announced yesterday as it reported six locally transmitted cases with unclear infection sources. The center reported 11 new cases yesterday: four imported cases from India, and seven local infections in northern Taiwan, the highest daily number of cases since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that one of the local infections — case No. 1,201 — is a woman who is a family member living with
SIXTEEN LOCAL: Three COVID-19 infections are linked to a cluster at a gambling house in Yilan County, 10 to a case in New Taipei City and three had unclear sources The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday urged people to increase vigilance and thoroughly practice preventive measures against COVID-19 as it reported 16 locally transmitted cases of the disease. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that 21 cases were confirmed in Taiwan yesterday: 16 local cases, four imported cases and one case undetermined. The locally transmitted cases are three linked to a cluster of infections at a gambling house in Yilan County, 10 associated with a previous case in New Taipei City and three with unclear sources of infection. The CECC on Tuesday reported a cluster
‘DOWN TO ZERO 2.0’: All pilots are to undergo quarantine at government centers, while cabin crew on long-haul flights have to quarantine for 14 days The Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday announced stricter measures to contain a COVID-19 outbreak among China Airlines (華航) flight crew, as the nature of the confirmed cases indicated an unknown chain of transmission within the airline. The “Down to Zero 2.0” plan will be tough on China Airlines personnel, but is necessary to minimize the risk to society, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. Under the measures, all China Airlines pilots and copilots are to be recalled to undergo quarantine at government centers, while cabin crew who are returning from long-haul flights or who have
SHOPPING MALL: People who have been to places visited by the confirmed cases at about the same time should pay attention to their health condition and report symptoms The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday revealed several locations in Taoyuan and Taipei visited by two people confirmed to have COVID-19 when they were likely contagious. Case No. 1,183 — a China Airlines (華航) pilot, the husband of case No. 1,184 — on May 1 visited the “Pilot in Cafe” coffee shop from 12pm to 12:30pm, the Gloria Outlets (華泰名品城) shopping mall from 1pm to 1:30pm and Hutung Peng’s Old Shop Xinjiang Ramen (胡同彭家老舖新疆拉麵) from 2pm to 2:30pm, all in Taoyuan, the CECC said. People who visited the venues at about those times should pay attention to their health condition, and