Vibrant Palm Sunday rallies promote refugee rights

Thousands rallied on Palm Sunday rallies around the country. More than 1500 marched in Melbourne in the largest refugee rights rally since Victoria's COVID-19 lockdown ended.

Jacob Andrewartha reports from Melbourne that a diverse sections of the community (including unions and churches) mobilised for the Walk for Justice for Refugees Palm Sunday rally. They raised the demand for an end to mandatory detention and freedom for all refugees. It marched all the way from the State Library to the Park Hotel in Carlton where twelve refugees are still languishing in detention.

Peter Boyle reported that a well-organised Tamil contingent set the tone for the Palm Sunday march for refugee rights in Sydney today. It was attended by about 1200 people with contingents from migrant communities, a couple of trade unions and church groups. The Tamil contingent focused on the case of Rajan, a Tamil refugee who has been in detention for 11 years.

Kamala Emanuel reported that over 150 people gathered in Brisbane to mark Palm Sunday with calls for justice for refugees. Speakers denounced indefinite mandatory detention and welcomed the release of some of the Medevac refugees from the Kangaroo Point refugee prison. They noted that some refugees have been unfairly left in prison while those released have been abandoned after more than seven years in detention without government support and without permanent protection.

Anti-militarism campaigners aiming to shut down the Land Forces military exhibition in June joined the protest which also had a peace and anti-militarism character.

In Newcastle, Niko Leka reports that over 80 people, including families with children and pets, attended a vibrant rally in Newcastle. There were speakers from the ALP, Amnesty, the Greens, Socialist Alliance and Grandmothers for Refugees.

One theme of the day was that Newcastle has a history of welcoming refugees, and that we want to see a simple pathway to permanent resettlement. One of the Vietnamese refugees - labelled a "boat person" - who arrived in 1975 emphasised that we are joining the dots: from the invasion of this land, to the disgraceful sexism and corruption in Canberra, the Basics Card, and the cruelty towards refugees. She echoed the plea of all speakers: that we must keep fighting to end this system of horror.

Janet Parker reports that a number of refugees from Afghanistan and Iran told their story at a ticketed indoor event (because of covid concerns). They spoke of their terrifying journey by boat to seek safety only to face dehumanising treatment in long-term detention. They also spoke of and the ongoing uncertainty that the temporary visas generate.

In Fremantle, a group of activists held a vigil on the city streets calling for Justice for Refugees.

In Townsville, Jenny Stirling reports that 200 people marched along the foreshore, the Strand. A drumming group provided the backdrop to the event which was characterised by good will towards the cause of refugees. Speakers were a former Somali refugee, a representative from the Muslim community and the daughter of an Iraqi refugee.

A march for refugees also took place in Ballarat and other centres.

Anne McMenamin reports that Adelaide had a Walk for Peace, organised by Churches Together, Justice 4 Refugees SA, Adelaide Vigil for Manus and Nauru, and Amnesty. In beautiful sunshine, about 200 people marched from Tarntanyangga down to Elder park for speeches about refugees, climate change and world peace.

More photos on the Green Left Facebook page. See also, this extra video from Sydney.

Brisbane march. Photo: Alex Bainbridge
Brisbane march. Photo: Alex Bainbridge
A vibrant Tamil contingent set the tone for the Sydney rally. Photo: Isaac Nellist
A vibrant Tamil contingent set the tone for the Sydney rally. Photo: Isaac Nellist
More from the Sydney rally. Photo: Isaac Nellist
More from the Sydney rally. Photo: Isaac Nellist
Free ALL refugees, Brisbane. Photo: Alex Bainbridge
Free ALL refugees, Brisbane. Photo: Alex Bainbridge
Released refugee Kazem speaks to Brisbane rally. Photo: Alex Bainbridge
Released refugee Kazem speaks to Brisbane rally. Photo: Alex Bainbridge
Marching in Sydney. Photo: Peter Boyle
Marching in Sydney. Photo: Peter Boyle
Sydney rally. Photo: Peter Boyle
Sydney rally. Photo: Peter Boyle
Deportations are not safe. Melbourne Palm Sunday. Photo: Chloe De Silva
Deportations are not safe. Melbourne Palm Sunday. Photo: Chloe De Silva
Fremantle vigil. Photo: Dawn Barrington
Fremantle vigil. Photo: Dawn Barrington
Newcastle Palm Sunday rally. Photo: Steve O'Brien
Newcastle Palm Sunday rally. Photo: Steve O'Brien
Palm Sunday in Newcastle - Milla with her dog Lorelei. Photo: Amand Perram
Palm Sunday in Newcastle - Milla with her dog Lorelei. Photo: Amand Perram
Free the Refugees in Sydney. Photo: Rachel Evans.
Free the Refugees in Sydney. Photo: Rachel Evans.
Townsville Drum Collective in full flight with Magnetic Island in the background. Photo: Amnesty Int
Townsville Drum Collective in full flight with Magnetic Island in the background. Photo: Amnesty International
Justice for Refugees in Melbourne. Photo: Chloe de Silva
Justice for Refugees in Melbourne. Photo: Chloe de Silva
Free the Refugees in Melbourne. Photo: Chloe de Silva
Free the Refugees in Melbourne. Photo: Chloe de Silva
Palm Sunday Melbourne. Photo: Amy Elizabeth
Palm Sunday Sydney. Photo: Amy Elizabeth

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