Aboriginal Protesters Burn Flag at Australian Parliament
On Friday, January 27, the fallout from a contingent of aboriginal protestors of the tent embassy continued as more than 200 of them marched on the Nation’s Parliament House and proceeded to burn the Australian Flag according to an article by The Washington Post.
The day before the marchers surrounded a Canberra restaurant where Prime Minister Julia Gillard was, creating a situation where Gillard had to be led away by her bodyguards.
The protests surround what is known as Australian Day, or to aboriginals as the day the British colonists invaded the country.
Unlike the situation on Thursday when things became out of control quick, the protests on Friday were controlled according to an article by the Herald Sun.
Gillard responded Friday to the protests according to The Post saying, “I’ve got no troubles at all with peaceful protests. … What I utterly condemn is when protests turn violent the way we saw the violence [Thursday], and particularly to disrupt an event which was to honor some extraordinary Australians.”
Among aboriginal activists, the view on the protests have been split. Some leaders disagree with the protests like Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner, and former ALP national president Warren Mundine, according to the Herald Sun.
Some aborigine leaders felt the protests have jeopardized the efforts to reconcile indigenous Australians in the broader society.
“I think it was totally uncalled for. It’s just not acceptable that they burn the flag of Australia,” Tom Calma, a co-chair of Reconcilliation Australia told CNN. Reconciliation Australia, promotes the improving of relationships between aborigines and the wider Australian community.
On the other side of the debate, and in support of the protests is Paul Coe, an activist leader who felt the concerns were nothing and according the Herald Sun said Australians should recognize the place of indigenous people in Australia.
“Either you respect us as a sovereign people or piss off out of our country,” Coe said in the Herald Sun.