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Rally for refugees unites community organisations

Members of the Sydney public gathered on Palm Sunday – March 25 – to remember and protest the indefinite detention and treatment of over 1,500 refugees held in camps on Manus Island and Nauru as punishment for seeking asylum in Australia.

Joining the march: Amnesty International and the Refugee Action Coalition. Photo: Lyn Turnbull
Joining the march: Amnesty International and the Refugee Action Coalition. Photo: Lyn Turnbull

Worldwide, there are over 65 million displaced persons who are seeking refuge in other countries due to war, poverty and the threat of persecution.

The Palm Sunday rally and march has been held annually since 1982, protesting and giving voice to pressing social justice issues of the time. For the last number of years, the rally has focused on the human right of people to seek asylum in Australia, which is a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention and a newly appointed member of the UN Security Council. Indefinite detention and the treatment of refugees by Australia has been deemed illegal by the UN.

Members of the rally were welcomed to country by Uncle Dave Bell, as well as called to action by the Rev. Simon Hansford (Moderator of the Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT), Gem Romuld (Australian Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons), Thomas Costa (Assistant Secretary, Unions NSW) and Imogen Szumer (Refugee Action Coalition).

Habiburahman, a Rohingyan refugee who arrived in Australia by boat in 2009, also spoke. He reminded the crowd, which was supported by more than 30 Sydney and surrounding community organisations, that no person chooses or wants to be a refugee.

The crowd then marched from Belmore Park to Victoria Park, with signs and placards, reminding others that the refugees in Australia’s care are not being forgotten.

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