Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe has issued an impassioned call for the Aboriginal Flag to be flown at half-mast around Australia on January 26, in a mark of respect for the First Nations people who perished as a direct result of the European colonisation of Australia.
In a stirring opinion piece published by The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald this morning, Thorpe asserted that “For First Nations people across this country, January is a hard month,” due to the “colonial flag-waving,” the “heightened racism,” the “collective amnesia,” and “the celebration of violent occupation.”
Thorpe asserts that the upcoming January 26 public holiday, which brings with it the annual fraught outburst of racism and racist-tinged pushback from white media across Australia, particularly in conservative circles, represents a particularly solemn time for First Nations people. The date, observed nationwide as “Australia Day” only since 1994, represents the anniversary of a period of history that historians estimate saw some 270 massacres of First Nations people. And that harm and injustices against Indigenous people continue to this day through systemic issues like black deaths in custody.
“I know that we are not alone in wanting to believe that this country is capable of telling the truth about its violent history – reckoning with its past, so it can better deal with its present. As with ANZAC Day, we ask that all Australians join us in acknowledging January 26 as a day of respectful reflection and mourning for those who died fighting for country,” Thorpe stated.
Senator Thorpe noted that while the idea of presenting January 26 as a day of mourning for the First Nations community is not a new one, enshrining it in official Government buildings is. And thus the call to lower the Aboriginal flag to half-mast as an official show of respect has been made today.
“A day of mourning is not a new idea, but it is an important one. On this day, the Aboriginal flag can be flown at half-mast, as befits a day of grief and remembrance. I’m inviting communities, councils and organisations across Australia to do just that. Those attending Invasion Day dawn services should also consider wearing black, to symbolise mourning,” Thorpe stated.
The annual shitfight over official January 26 observances has already begun in earnest. City of Melbourne officials are facing backlash from the usual suspects for providing logistical support for a planned Invasion Day Dawn Service at Kings Domain. Meanwhile the Mayor of Cumberland City in Sydney’s west has labelled any cancellation of official Australia Day ceremonies as “lazy” and “un-Australian.”
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