The secret meanings of some of the flags flown at huge anti-vax protest in Canberra

The secret meanings of some of the flags flown at huge anti-vax protest in Canberra. By Ashlea Knickel.

Among the crowd were World War Two-era Croatian flags, Australia’s Red Ensign and upside down Australian flags.

Croatian Ustaše  flag:

The old Croatian flag is often associated with the the Ustaše — an ultra-fascist political movement between 1929 and 1945 whose members murdered hundreds of thousands of Jewish people and ethnic minorities. The Ustaše were heavily influenced by Italian fascism and German Nazis and even built their own concentration camps to carry out their abhorrent crimes.

Various extremist groups now adopt the WWII-era flag to show their support for far-right causes. …

The Red Ensign [behind the Ustaše flag above] is Australia’s maritime flag:

[It] is used by the nation’s merchant ships but has recently been adopted by Australia’s ‘Sovereign Citizen’.

The conspiracy movement rejects the enforcement of all laws and taxation, considering them to be illegitimate — even on dry land. … Instead, members believe only maritime laws apply to them. …

An upside down Australian flag:

Across the globe and upside down flag is internationally recognised as a sign of distress.

Demonstrators have been using to the symbol as way to claim they are in distress over mandatory vaccination requirements in some workplaces and venues.

What are those first two flags doing at a protest against mandatory vaccination? They are hijacking an issue that might draw widespread sympathy for their own fringe views. Most people, even those who took the vaccine willingly, balk at the mandatory part.

Those flags repel most Australians. They severely limit the potential mainstream appeal of the protest.