Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees 1pm 13 April 2014
We were over 1000 people from a wide group of civil society organisations, churches and individuals calling for humane policies for asylum seekers and refugees in Australia.
We are deeply troubled by the Australian Government’s treatment of asylum seekers.
On Palm Sunday 2014 the palm branches used in Christian church celebrations were also put to extra use for the sake of asylum seekers. On the steps of St George’s Cathedral over 1000 people from a wide array of Christian churches brought their palm branches from their church celebrations and joined with community organisations gathered to proclaim a message of justice for asylum seekers.
The action was echoed around the country with vast crowds gathering in most capital cities in Australia to call for an urgent change to the Australian government’s treatment of asylum seekers.
As Rev. Ron Larkin, the Moderator of the Uniting Church in Western Australia, said in his speech on the day, “Transferring asylum seekers offshore doesn’t excuse Australia from its human rights obligations.” Rev. Larkin went on to highlight the plight of the many children who are suffering the ramifications of Australia’s harsh detention policies: “The Uniting Church will not stand by and watch as the lives of children are scape-goated by brutal government policies.” Reinforcing the offer of sanctuary made by the Uniting Church in Australia for the children without parents currently held on Christmas Island, Ron proclaimed the inherent dignity of all asylum seekers saying, “Each person seeking our help is a child of God and not a tool of deterrence for Government policy.”
These messages were followed by the heartbreaking account of Reza Sidiqi, an Hazara man who was granted asylum in Australia after arriving by boat, and the harrowing reports from Manus Island via the Refugee Rights Action Network’s, Sarah Cornock Ross. Sarah explained the increasing desperation of detainees along with the rapid deterioration of their mental health, revealing how “their incarceration is killing them slowly, progressively, surely and without mercy.”
In an act of a unified and peaceful call for change, the crowd walked with their palm fronds through the streets of Perth. Pausing in the Hay Street Mall for a minute’s silence, the diverse convergence of parishioners, protesters and activists sent a powerful message as they knelt and stood behind the lead banner which read: “Not In My Name.”
Huge thanks to all who helped to make this event happen, and to all those who made the effort to come and join us on the walk.