The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was adopted by the General Assembly on Thursday, 13 September 2007, by a majority of 143 states in favour, 4 votes against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) and 11 abstentions (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and Ukraine).
Years later the four countries that voted against have reversed their position and now support the UN Declaration. Today the Declaration is the most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of indigenous peoples. It establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world and it elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as they apply to the specific situation of indigenous peoples.
Dramatic scenes erupted at Invasion Day rallies across the country, with fights breaking out and Greens senator Lidia Thorpe declaring “they are stealing our babies”.
Thousands of Australians rallied in solidarity with First Nations people, marching under the scorching sun in a bid to get the government to change the date.
Protesters took to the streets with marches organised in every state and territory on Thursday as many chose not to mark the national holiday and protested January 26 as Australia’s national day of celebration.
Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe took to the stage around midday as the heaving crowds of Melbourne’s CBD cheered her on under the scorching heat.
Ms Thorpe, who is an Indigenous woman and the star of Melbourne’s treaty movement, declared “this is a war” to rapturous cheers.
“A war that was declared on our people more than 200 years ago,” Senator Thorpe said in an extraordinary speech, in which she said black women were still being raped by “them”.
Loud shouts of “shame” met Ms Thorpe’s consecutive declarations, given with red-painted hands symbolising violence and in which she held a “war stick”.
Lidia Thorpe gave an extraordinary speech to the Melbourne crowd. Picture: 3CR/Twitter
Huge crowds gather outside Victorian Parliament House in Melbourne for the annual Invasion Day Rally. Picture : NCA NewsWire / Valeriu Campan
“That war has never ended in our country against our people. They are still killing us. They are still stealing our babies. They are killing our men. They are still raping our women,” she yelled to the crowd.
“What do we have to celebrate in this country? Do we want to become an advisory body to the colonial system?
“We deserve better. We have to be rid of racism and heal this country and bring everyone together through a sovereign treaty.
“We deserve better than an advisory body. They could put 10 independent black states in the senate today. We want real power and we won’t settle for anything less.”
Speaking to NCA NewsWire after her speech, Senator Thorpe denied it was confirmation she would spearhead a Voice no-vote.
“I won’t be part of any campaign,” she said.
Senator Thorpe said the extent of the turnout and the reception to the numerous Aboriginal speakers confirmed the urgency of a treaty.
Protesters put red paint on their hands to show the country has “blood on their hands”. Picture : NCA NewsWire / Valeriu Campan
To loud chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “Stop Killing Us”, the rally made its way down towards the busy intersection of Swanston and Collins St, momentarily paralysing the centre of Melbourne’s CBD.
Ms Thorpe and others laid themselves on the tram tracks of the intersection.
The large crowd assembled outside Victoria’s State Parliament on Bourke St in the city’s CBD for the annual Invasion Day celebration.
The crowd, which was in its thousands, burst into cheers just after 11am when a speaker declared “f**k Australia Day”.
Uncle Gary Foley criticised the proposal for The Voice and labelled it “lipstick on a pig”.
He called for a treaty between First Nations people and the wider community to be made a priority over the referendum.
“This referendum got a snowball chance in hell of getting up,” he said.
Marchers stood in alliance as Lidia Thorpe gave a speech. Picture : NCA NewsWire / Valeriu Campan
Signs were laid out on the floor with one saying “Queers for liberation”. Picture : NCA NewsWire / Valeriu Campan
Aunty Shirley at the Melbourne Invasion Day rally. Picture : NCA NewsWire / Valeriu Campan
Loud cheers broke out in the crowd when Uncle Robbie Thorpe called for a sovereign people’s assembly, as opposed to a Voice.
“There’s been lots of money into our welfare and our health but there’s nothing to show for it,” Uncle Thorpe said.
He argued for people to go “one step closer” and revolt, saying 2023 would be a year of reckoning.
“Are you ready for freedom Australia? Can you handle it? Are you ready for the truth?” he asked the crowd.
Uncle Thorpe called the notion of a voice “disgusting and offensive,” and said it was a form of “double-dating the constitution”.
Melbourne’s Invasion Day rally. Picture : NCA NewsWire / Valeriu Campan
The crowd is replete with popular Invasion Day slogans, particularly “No Pride in Genocide” and “Sovereignty Never Ceded”.
Signs were laid out on the floor with one saying “Queers for liberation” and another saying “Abolish: police, prisons, Australia”.
“This is an opportunity to rise up and get rid of the criminals in here,” Uncle Thorpe said, pointing behind him to Parliament House.
“Get rid of the State, the Crown and The Commonwealth,” he said, to a loud applause.
Crowds gathered early in the morning on Gadigal land at Belmore Park in Sydney’s CBD ahead of the march at 9.30am.
It wasn’t long before a fight broke out in the crowd, with a small group of people holding up an Australian flag and signs which read: “Always was always will be Australian land”.
During the rally they were asked by Gomeroi woman and Indigenous activist Gwenda Stanley to leave the area.
“Australia Day is dead and done. Get over it,” she shouted from across the park.
Speaking to NCA NewsWire, Ms Stanley called them “infiltrators and agitators.”
Australia Day protesters are moved on by police at the Invasion Day protest at Belmore Park, Sydney. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brendan Read,
Protester Kim Jacobs is moved on by police at the Invasion Day protest at Belmore Park, Sydney. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brendan Read
Crowds gather at Belmore Park in Sydney as the annual Invasion Day protests get underway. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brendan Read
“Our conflict is 235 years of genocide in this country and he thinks he’s got a right to stand there and he thinks he has some sort of power in our day,” she said.
“Australia Day is dead and gone. Get over it. This is our day now. It’s gone. It’s done and dusted.”
Police intervened and asked the group to disperse and said they would be issued with a direction, if they didn’t obey the request.
Protester Kim Jacobs, who was holding up an Australian flag, justified his dissent as democratic.
“I guess I’m one of those awkward people who have a point of view and felt shame to express it,” he told a police officer.
“I have no wish to cause problems with the police and do not wish to cause violence.”
The right-wing nationalists were told to move on from the crowd. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brendan Read
As he left, a bystander said: “You’re everything that’s wrong with this country”.
The theme of Thursday’s rally is “sovereignty before voice” in response to the Federal Government’s Voice to Parliament proposal.
The rally opened with a smoking ceremony, followed by traditional dances and an acknowledgement of country made by Uncle Dave Bell.
A heavy police presence was seen on park grounds.
Speakers made calls for Indigenous sovereignty and criticised the referendum for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
Activist and Dunghutti, Gumbaynggirr, Bundjalung woman, Auntie Lizzie Jarrett told attendees to vote no.
The rally began with a smoking ceremony. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brendan Read
“Liberal, Labor, the system is not for Black People,” she said as the crowd cheered in response.
“We don’t want a voice, we have a voice. We don’t want a white wash.
“When it comes to the time. Vote ‘no’ to the referendum. Don’t come here and tick a box.”
Ms Jarrett addressed the NSW Police officers gathered at the rally, saying they didn’t need their protection at the event.
She also made comments about the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II.
“We protect each other. This is sovereignty day, Australia Day is dead,” Ms Jarrett said.
“Just like queen Lizzie, Australia Day is dead with her. Will you support us? If you do, when that referendum comes around, kick it to the ground like Australia.”
Protesters of all ages were in Sydney’s crowd. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brendan Read
Hundreds of people braced temperatures of up to 30C wearing clothes bearing the Aboriginal flag. Signs read “we deserve better than just a voice” and “vote no to referendum”.
Mr Jarrett shouted to the crowd: “Stop killing black people, stop stealing black children, stop killing black land, stop poisoning black waters.”
Throughout the two-hour rally, multiple calls were made against The Voice, in lieu for meaningful sovereignty and protection of Indigenous land.
Another speaker said The Voice echoed paternalistic policies of the 1900s.
“We say no to genocide. We say no to cultural genocide,” they said.
“We don’t want to be assimilated no constitution as written by white people.”
Speakers also spoke out against plans by mining company Santos to build the Narrabri gas project in north-west NSW. Traditional Gomeroi owners have appealed the decision in the Federal Court.
Thousands of people gathered at Queens Gardens for the Invasion Day event on Thursday.
The massive crowd, which had more than 10,000 supporters, walked from the gardens to Musgrave Park, with roads being shut down throughout the Brisbane CBD.
Protesters take part in an Invasion Day rally and march in Brisbane, coinciding with Australia Day. Picture: NCA Newswire / Dan Peled
A woman holds a sign which says “always was, always will be”. Picture: NCA Newswire / Dan Peled
Multiple people wore shirts with the words “treaty now” written on them and chanted “end black deaths in custody”.
Meanwhile, others had clothes which bore the Aboriginal flag.
A massive Aboriginal flag was laid on the ground in the park while a woman held a sign which said: “always was, always will be”.
Signs in the crowd read “the Queen is dead, so is the colony” and “land rights country not politics”.
Protesters at the Brisbane Invasion Day rally. Picture: NCA Newswire / Dan Peled
Rally organisers asked the crowd if they supported a voice to Parliament, but were met with silence.
“Is there anyone here who thinks we need a Voice? No one?” they asked.
“We want our land back. We want an end to deaths in custody. We want an end to intergenerational trauma.
“We have a voice, those bastards in Parliament haven’t been listening. What we want is justice, what we want is self determination and sovereignty.
“If they think some government-appointed advisory council is going to say it better than that, they have no idea.”
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – NewsWire Photos – JANUARY 26, 2023. Protesters take part in an Invasion Day rally and march in Brisbane, coinciding with Australia Day. Picture: NCA Newswire / Dan Peled
Crowds braced the summer sun for the rally. Picture: NCA Newswire / Dan Peled
Hundreds of people descended on the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra after marching from the city centre of the nation’s capital in a January 26 “Sovereignty Day” protest.
Members of the crowd clapped and cheered as they arrived on the lawn outside Old Parliament House, 51 years to the day since the tent embassy was set up in Canberra as a permanent protest occupation site.
Protestors chanted together as they walked the 3km from Civic: “Too many coppers, not enough justice; No justice, no peace, no racist police; Always was, always will be Aboriginal land”.
Signs protesting against the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament were visible at the front of the crowd before it dispersed at the embassy.
A small group of people stood on the lawn behind a large placard reading: “F**k your Voice, it is not ours”.
Sign at Garema Place in Canberra where a march kicked off on Thursday morning. Picture: Instagram
The upcoming referendum on whether or not to enshrine the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory body in the constitution has emerged as a flashpoint in this year’s Invasion Day protests across the nation.
Nioka Coe-Craigie, the daughter of the founders of the Aboriginal tent embassy, spoke to protestors as they gathered in Civic before the march on Thursday morning and declared she wouldn’t support the Voice.
“Constitutional recognition will silence our voices in this country,” she said.
Ms Coe-Craigie was critical of the federal government, saying politicians hadn’t gone to the tent embassy “and sat at the campfire to discuss terms.”
Thursday marks 51 years since the embassy was set up in Canberra as a permanent protest occupation site to represent the political rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia.
Protesters in Adelaide called for a treaty over the Voice to Parliament as crowds gathered at Victoria Square to march in support of changing the date.
A large sign at the front of the crowd read: “Treaty before voice.”
South Australia’s commissioner for Aboriginal children and young people, April Lawrie, told a crowd earlier in the day rates of incarceration of Aboriginal children were “appalling”.
The smoking ceremony at the Sydney rally. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brendan Read
Ms Lawrie called for the legal age of criminal responsibility to be raised from 10 to 14.
Unlike other Indigenous leaders, she “wholeheartedly supported” the move to introduce a voice to parliament.
“To become a true nation, we need to recognise and embrace the international human rights of Aboriginal people to self-determination and the human rights of Aboriginal children to remain connected with their families, community and culture and to know their country,” she told the crowd.
Ninti staff attended todayâ€™s public Mourning In The Morning event on Karrawirra Parri (River Torrens), Adelaide. Thank you to Karl Winda Telfer, Uncle Moogy, the Iwiri choir and everyone who brought this special event to fruition. ðŸ‘ðŸ½
— Ninti One (@ninti_one) January 25, 2023
“This is what it means to come to terms with ourselves as a nation. And the key to self-determination lies in the recognition of authority of First Nations native title holders.”
She said the authority of native title holders would have to be recognised.
“Australia is the land of opportunity and prides itself on giving everyone a fair go. So today … speak for Aboriginal children and the Aboriginal nations behind them and ask you all to give them, their families and their communities a fair go by giving them an authentic voice,” Ms Lawrie said.
A march kicked off at Fogarty Park in Cairns at 9.00am, with protesters walking through the city with a sign which read “Abolish Australia day”.
The crowd could be heard chanting: “What do we want? Treaty. When do we want it? Now”.
“No pride in celebrating genocide”, another sign in the crowd read.
Crowds gathered at Elizabeth Street in Hobart’s CBD from 10.50am where they marched towards Parliament Lawns for an Invasion Day rally at midday.
Hundreds of people can be seen walking through the city’s streets, holding Aboriginal flags.
“Australia Day = Invasion day,” one sign in the crowd said.
We wonâ€™t celebrate Invasion Day âœŠðŸ½ðŸ–¤ðŸ’›â¤ï¸ #InvasionDaypic.twitter.com/VmYWgzauQ0
— Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (@TAClutruwita) January 25, 2023
“Invasion, murder, rape, dispossession, deaths in custody, attempted genocide. Celebrate…you’re joking,” another said.
Non-Indigenous Australians have been celebrating what is known as “Australia Day” for 29 years.
The day is a historic one which holds deep, cultural significance to Indigenous Australians and is a chance to advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody.