Three new reasons to mobilise for refugees on Palm Sunday

Fremantle activists at a national day of action for refugees last year.

Around the country, on March 25 (Palm Sunday in the Christian calendar), people will be protesting about the federal government’s ongoing cruelty towards refugees.

They will be demanding an end to offshore detention and boat turn-backs and for asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru to be brought to our shores and offered permanent protection.

Many readers won’t need a reason to join the protests, but here are three new ones.

Reason #1. The government’s cruelty knows no bounds. The Cabinet Files have revealed just how far the Coalition government is prepared to go to deny permanent protection to asylum seekers. According to Cabinet documents obtained by the ABC, former Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison’s department intervened in ASIO security checks to try to prevent up to 700 asylum seekers from being granted permanent protection visas in late 2013.

Reason #2. A UNHCR team visiting East Lorengau, West Lorengau and Hillside Haus on Manus Island this year has confirmed that asylum seekers and refugees who were forcibly moved to these facilities are subject to threats to their physical security, are experiencing poor standards of living, including inadequate sanitation, and have had torture and trauma counselling services stopped. The UNHCR has expressed concern that these men are exhibiting “a worsening sense of helplessness and hopelessness”.

Reason #3. The men of Manus Island have been protesting peacefully for nearly 200 days against their wrongful detention and to demand their freedom. We owe it to them to mobilise in our tens of thousands on Sunday March 25.

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