Thousands of Australians rallied for racial justice on Saturday in the cities across the country despite the warnings from health officials that it could undermine the country’s success in suppressing the coronavirus.
In the western capital, Perth, the biggest demonstrations took place where thousands of protesters gathered waving Aboriginal flags and Black Lives Matter signs. Protests were also held in Queensland and Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory.
Except for the rallies held in Darwin, which had an official authorization, the rallies in other cities violated official injunctions against large gatherings imposed three months ago in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus outbreak.
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However, the organizers of the protests urged people to follow safety guidelines, most of the people were seen wearing facemasks, and local police authorities did not intervene. In Australia, the protests entered the second week.
Initially, the rallies in Australia were organized in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, following the killing of an unarmed African American, George Floyd, in Minneapolis police custody. The movement that started in the US has also resonated strongly among many people in Australia, a country also fighting with its history of racial injustice towards Aboriginal people.
In the last three decades, there have been nearly 400 indigenous deaths in police custody, and they are also over-represented in the prison population. Despite dozens of investigations, requests, and in some cases, video evidence, no prosecutions have been brought over deaths.
In Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, dozens of people gathered to protest against the prolonged detention of asylum seekers under the government’s strict refugee policies. However, the police authorities had banned all the protests, but most of them took place without any incident.
Australian health authorities have been praised for their response to coronavirus as it is one of the most successful countries in containing the pandemic outbreak. Health officials have claimed the virus has been virtually eliminated in many cities across Australia. However, New South Wales and Victoria continue to record a handful of new cases daily.
Elsewhere in Asia, thousands of people in Taipei gathered, chanting Black Lives Matter slogans. The protesters also went down on their knees for 8 minutes to mourn the death of George Floyd in police custody after being knelt on the neck. In Tokyo, hundreds of people gathered in the rain to protests against racial injustice.
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