Thousands marched in the annual Palm Sunday’s walk for justice for refugees from the Melbourne State Library to the now closed Park Hotel refugee prison, where Medevac refugees were being held.
The last eight refugees were freed on April 7 into the community on six-month temporary bridging visas. Many were at the protest to show solidarity with the last six Medevac refugees, 200 offshore and the hundreds still being detained indefinitely in the country. Another 6 refugees are being held for unknown reasons.
Refugee rights activists pledged to continue to fight for all detention centres to be closed, and for the full rights and protection of 30,000 refugees on temporary and bridging visas.
Paul Oboohov reports that a well-attended rally in Canberra heard from Moz, a former Medivac refugee, who also sang, a young Afghan woman refugee, former Socceroo and activist Craig Foster, and John Minns from the Canberra Refugee Action Committee.
Steve O'Brien reports that the Hunter Peace Group (HPG) and Hunter Asylum Seeker Advocacy (HASA) organised the annual Palm Sunday rally on April 10 in Newcastle.
Lynda Forbes, spokesperson for HPG, expressed the group’s opposition to nuclear submarines anywhere in Australia. She praised Newcastle City Council’s insistence on remaining “nuclear free”.
Mahwa, a young Syrian refugee who is now studying to be a dentist, gave a moving account of fleeing from war. She said no child should experience the horror of war.
A spokesperson for the HPG spoke against AUKUS, the pact between Australia, the United States and Britain, and the billions of dollars being spent on military bases in the Northern Territory and to create a nuclear port on the East coast, to accommodate large military aircraft.
HPG said the federal government should take a leaf out of New Zealand’s “anti-nuclear book” and instead embrace a strict policy to keep territorial sea, land and airspace nuclear-free zones.
The Anglican Dean of Newcastle, the Very Rev Katherine Bowyer, concluded the rally speaking about how war divides people and how peace unites us across all borders.
Niko Leka, a convenor of HASA and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate, chaired the rally.