Thousands march on 50th anniversary of Tent Embassy

Invasion Day protest in Canberra. Photo: Richard Boult

Thousands of First Nations people and their allies marked Invasion Day on January 26 by marching from Canberra's CBD, on Ngunnawal and Ngambri country, to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy outside Old Parliament House.

The protest marked the 234th anniversary of the colonial invasion by the British Empire, which began on Gadigal land on January 26, 1788.

The rally was part of the second day of a celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Tent Embassy in 1972.

The protestors called for land rights and reparatory justice for First Nations peoples, who were forcibly dispossessed of their lands by the colonial empire and decimated by disease and genocidal campaigns of violence.

They also called for an end to Indigenous deaths in custody, an end to the government’s removal of Indigenous children from their families and communities and for justice to be served against police officers and prison guards responsible for the deaths of Indigenous people in detention.

Some speakers, including Aboriginal elder Wayne Wharton, called for Australians of all backgrounds to organise to abolish Australia’s colonial state and replace it with a new society.

“Right around the world, Black Lives [Matter] is not about colour; it’s about the privileged and the non-privileged. It’s about systems that have to be torn down. It’s about systems that are failing. They’ve got to be abolished,” Wharton said.