Gold Coast (Australia) (AFP) – There were minor scuffles Wednesday as about 100 Aboriginal activists faced off against police outside the stadium hosting the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.
A small band of protesters have labelled the Games on Australia’s Gold Coast the “Stolenwealth Games” and are using the event to protest a number of injustices suffered by the Aboriginal community, among the most disadvantaged in the country.
The activists, surrounded by dozens of police officers — some on horseback — marched towards the Carrara Stadium just ahead of the opening of the Games.
They were stopped outside the arena, chanting: “Always was, always will be Aboriginal land” and “No justice, no Games”.
Brief scuffles later broke out between protesters and police, with activists vowing to target the Games every day until it ends on April 15.
“I’m here to tell the rest of the Commonwealth that the Aboriginal nations of Australia have not ceded their sovereignty,” one protest leader blasted through a megaphone.
“We have never ceded the supreme authority over our lives, we have never ceded the supreme authority over our land, we have never ceded the sovereignty over our lifestyles and our children.”
Aborigines, whose cultures stretch back tens of thousands of years before the British arrived, make up about three percent of Australia’s population of 25 million.
They remain the most disadvantaged Australians, with higher rates of poverty, ill-health and imprisonment than any other community.