Aboriginal Anger on Australia Day


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:25 p.m. EDT, 26 January 2012

English: Invasion Day protest at the Aboriginal Tent EmbassyPORT JACKSON, Australia - Today is Australia Day which commemorates the establishment of the first settlement at Port Jackson, now part of Sydney, in 1788. Originally, instituted for the exclusive enjoyment of the white settlers, the country has more recently tried to promote the holiday as an opportunity for Australians to come together to celebrate their country and culture.

However, this celebration is a painful reminder to the Indigenous Australians of their relegation to second class citizenry and the extreme racism they face on a daily basis.  According to the website Creative Spirits, "87% percent of Australians agree that there is racial prejudice in Australia. 42% percent believe that Australians with a British background enjoy a privileged position.

26% percent of Australians have anti-Indigenous concerns. 41% percent of Australians agree that 'Australia is weakened by people of different ethnic origins sticking to their old ways.' 11% percent of Australians don't think that all races of people are equal. 35% percent of applications job seekers with Indigenous-sounding names had to submit their resumes numerous times to get the same number of interviews as an Anglo-Australian applicant with equivalent experience and qualifications in a study in 2009. 70% percent of surveyed Australians thought India's media was wrong to brand Australians as being racist toward Indians, after several attacks on students."

Today, in opposition to the racist treatment of Indigenous people in Australia, some 200 supporters of indigenous rights surrounded a Canberra restaurant and banged its windows while Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott were inside officiating at an award ceremony. Around 50 police escorted the political leaders from a side door to a car.

The protester were encamped at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, which in true sit-in fashion, is a collection of tents and temporary shelters in the national capital. This de facto Embassy serves as the focal point for the anti-Australia Day movement. The Tent Embassy celebrated its 40th anniversary on Thursday. Many Aborigines refer to the national holiday as Invasion Day because the land was stolen from them and settled without a treaty or fair compensation.

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