Australia Day 2019: Activists hang ‘Abolish Australia Day’ banner in London

An “Abolish Australia Day” banner has been hung from London’s Westminster Bridge in the shadow of the British Houses of Parliament in solidarity with Australian rallies.

About 30 protesters held the banner off the bridge as throngs of tourists walked by on a cold and cloudy Friday afternoon.

London Australia Solidarity Activism Hub spokeswoman Eda Sehyan says the action is in solidarity with Australia’s indigenous people who are protesting against the celebration of Australia Day.

“We are celebrating the fact that Australia was once ruled from here, from the UK, we are celebrating the act of colonisation basically,” she said.

“So it’s really important for us here in London, in the former heart of empire, to protest.” Some of the dozens of passing tourists stopped to read the banner and appeared confused by it.

Ms Sehyan said it was understandable that foreigners were confused by the banner as many did not know Australia marked its national day on the anniversary of its colonisation rather than the date of its independence or federation.

“Really we want our message to be heard in Australia. It’s not so much about the people here but to show leaders back there and people protesting that there are voices for change,” she said.

Ms Sehyan said her group wants Australia Day to be abolished until indigenous Australians have the same quality of life as non-indigenous Australians.

“Let’s all celebrate when we don’t have indigenous children 24 times more likely to be locked up than others, when we don’t have indigenous communities where life expectancy is 10 years less than the rest of us: that’s the Australia that I’m ready to celebrate,” she added.