Australian Aboriginal Senator Lidia Thorpe on Monday called Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, who is also Australia’s head of state, a “colonizer”. Thorpe, from the Green Party, approached the bench of the Parliament room where she should have read the formula of the oath with her right fist raised, and in protest against the colonial past of the British Empire and against the violence suffered by the peoples aborigines said:
I, Lidia Thorpe, solemnly and heartily swear that I will be faithful and promise total loyalty to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the colonizer
Thorpe’s words were met with various murmurs from colleagues in the courtroom and earned her some reproaches from the President of the Senate, Sue Lines, who invited her to take the oath again, reciting it as it was written. At that point, Thorpe raised his right fist again, and in a somewhat contemptuous tone read the formula again, this time without variation. After the oath, the senator he wrote on Twitter «Sovereignity never ceded», A slogan used by Aboriginal peoples to indicate that their sovereignty over Australian lands had never been ceded.
Australia was a colony of the British Empire for more than a century, between the end of the eighteenth and the end of the nineteenth century: in this period thousands of Aborigines were subdued, killed or forcibly removed from their lands. The country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1901, but still today it is part of the Commonwealth (the group of countries that had been part of the Empire and which, although independent, have maintained more or less formal ties with the English crown) and remains a constitutional monarchy, whose head of state is the sovereign Elizabeth II.
On November 6, 1999, Australians voted in a historic referendum to decide whether to turn the country into a parliamentary republic, but the proposal was rejected with 54.87 percent “no”. In the country, however, the topic is regularly discussed. According to a poll from last January cited by the Sydney Morning Heraldmost Australians would be in favor of the establishment of a republic: at the moment, however, there is no agreement on how a new head of state would eventually be chosen.
After the oath, Thorpe also called for the signing of a treaty to institutionalize the country’s pre-colonial history and the historical sovereignty of the Aboriginal peoples over Australian lands. Today the majority of the approximately 700,000 aborigines who live in the country live in poverty and are supported only by state subsidies; many of them also frequently suffer from episodes of racism and discrimination.
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