Ten thousands of people will take to the streets across the country for Palm Sunday actions calling for immediate action on Australia’s shameful treatment of people seeking our protection.
“The US refugee deal is limited and uncertain”, said refugee advocate, Pamela Curr.
“While the US deal may provide protection for some, there are grave concerns that many asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island may be forced to return to dangerous situations. They need fair assessment of their claims, and should be brought to Australia where they can wait in safety. We must end their suffering and bring them here.”
In Melbourne the Walk for Justice for Refugees will be at Sunday 9 April, 2pm at State Library of Victoria, followed by a walk through the Bourke Street Mall returning to the Library.
Speakers include people from refugee backgrounds – Nazir Yousafi, President of the Victorian Afghan Associations Network, Abdelhadi Matar, refugee & Sudanese community leader from Darfur, Idil Ali, community worker from Somali refugee background and volunteer with RISE, and a message recorded by Aziz, an asylum seeker held on Manus Island for nearly 4 years. Representatives of the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities will speak in solidarity, and Daniel Webb, Human rights lawyer, and Jane Wylie who was a teacher of refugee children on Nauru will also speak.
There will be a strong interfaith focus, with Muslims, Jews and Christians walking under a single banner. The Mass Melbourne Gospel Choir and other musicians will provide music before and after the Walk. Over 140 organisations have endorsed the Walk in Melbourne, calling for the urgent release of the 2000 refugees (including 160 children) who are still held on Nauru and Manus Island.
Key concerns to be highlighted by speakers the depression and hopelessness experienced by refugee families on Nauru and Manus Island, the cruel reality of temporary protection visas and the ‘fast track’ assessment system is likely to result in many people being deported back to torture or life threatening situations. Assessment processes must be fair, thorough and transparent processes.
“It is time for us to stop the cruelty and show some compassion,” said Sister Brigid Arthur from the Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project. “We want to be part of a society that is shaped by compassion and justice for all people, and that must include people who are seeking asylum. Our sense of justice and the ‘fair go’ says it is time to call a halt to this failed and tragic policy. Australia must not deport people to danger – it is time to bring the refugees here and to let them stay.”