Pacific

Thousands of protesters mark Australia Day celebrations

Thousands of protesters have marked Australia's national day by cranking up pressure on the government to acknowledge indigenous suffering by shifting the date.

Australia Day celebrates the arrival of the first British colonists in Sydney Harbor on Jan. 26, 1788. The British never acknowledged the land was owned by the Aborigines and the lack of any treaty has long been a source of division.

Thousands of protesters staged largely peaceful Invasion Day rallies on Thursday in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, while hundreds staged a sit-in outside Parliament House in the national capital, Canberra.

Ian Macfarlane, a former minister in Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull's government who retired from politics last year, became a rare conservative voice to call for the date to be changed.

Turnbull has ruled out a change.