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Tuesday, 10 April 2018 09:17

Religious lead the way in Palm Sunday refugee rallies

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0418PalmSundayRallyDominicans 350Australia’s Religious were a strong presence at Palm Sunday rallies in support of refugees and asylum seekers, as people took their concerns over current government policy to the streets.

Rallies and marches were held in cities around the nation to bring awareness to the plight of refugees and asylum seekers, especially those being detained in offshore facilities.

In Perth, this year’s Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees was endorsed by more than 50 WA community organisations, churches, faith groups, and human rights groups, reports the eRecord.

One of the community service providers involved was MercyCare.

“MercyCare supports the Palm Sunday March because it is concerned about the ongoing suffering and violation of human rights of people fleeing from war, persecution and torture across the globe,” Mission & Culture Executive Director Sheryl Carmody said.

“Australia sees a very small percentage of the world’s displaced people who have been forced to leave their homeland as a result of war, persecution and torture.

“Our contact with people seeking asylum has taught us that most would prefer to be back in their homeland, and that those coming to Australia have a compelling story of loss, fear and needs.”

0418PalmSundayRallyPerth 450She said most of those affected had endured great hardship and risks to escape harm.

“Unfortunately, this trauma does not end with their arrival. The way Australia has been handling people seeking asylum in the last decade has diminished their human face and this undermines their dignity and human rights.

“MercyCare is one of the main service providers in WA supporting asylum seekers and is committed to making contribution to breaking cycles of suffering and disadvantage for people whose circumstances challenge our sense of mercy, compassion and justice,” Sheryl added.

0418PalmSundayRallyMelbschools 350In Melbourne’s huge march and rally, Religious were a big presence, along with schools and organisations bearing the charism of religious congregations.

The Melbourne Archdiocese’s Office for Justice and Peace, along with the Melbourne Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office, joined forces to present a powerful 40 minutes of prayer for asylum seekers and refugees at St Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne, followed by a procession to the State Library of Victoria for the annual Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees, reports MelbourneCatholic.

Those arriving from the cathedral joined thousands of others for the rally and march through Melbourne’s CBD.

At the library on Swanston Street, live audio from Abdul Aziz Adam, speaking by phone direct from Manus Island, was broadcast to the large crowd. Aziz is a refugee from Darfur in Sudan and has been held on Manus for just over four years. His message was added to by an array of other guest speakers, including Tim Costello, Chief Advocate, World Vision Australia; Taqi Azra, a Haraza refugee and National Union of Workers organiser; Rohingyan refugee Anwar Ibrahim, Vice President of the Victorian Afghan Associations Network; Nazir Yousafi, an Afghan refugee; and Abdul-Hadi Matar, a refugee and Sudanese community leader from Darfur. They were joined by an interfaith panel, including Rabbi Kim Ettlinger from the Jewish Community, Rev Sharon Hollis of the Uniting Church and Mohamed Mohideen President of the Islamic Council of Victoria.

From the Melbourne Archdiocese Office for Justice and Peace, Executive Officer Mark Clarke called for all Australians to open their hearts to refugees and asylum seekers fleeing to the safety of Australia.

This story and photos are drawn from reports in the eRecord from Perth and MelbourneCatholic.