A light in the dark
Members of the Uniting Church joined over 15, 000 Australians from across the nation for GetUp’s #lightupthenight, Vigil for Asylum seekers.
NSW and ACT Moderator, Rev. Brian Brown addressed the crowd gathered at Sydney’s Town Hall to express the Church’s sorrow over the tragic loss of life on Manus Island.
“We stand shoulder to shoulder, and also, shoulder to shoulder with you, in expressing our grief over the death of an Iranian detainee at the Manus Island Detention Centre, and the death of hope for so many who have left places of extreme danger and persecution to seek welcome and a new life in Australia,” said Rev. Brown.
“I hope and pray that the compassionate energy of this gathering, and of many like it across the country, will reach those who grieve the death of a loved one, and those who cling desperately to hope that one day they will be free, and welcome in a new home.
“And so, I commit our church to stay alongside you in this cause, and I am sure that my colleagues who stand here with me do the same. Make no mistake, this is not going to be an easy or a short road. We will be called to apply consistent courage, compassion and perseverance in order to ultimately bring us to the place where this country to which we belong, this national community that has so much, will once more be a place that welcomes the stranger.”
Earlier in the week, Uniting Justice Australia Director, Rev. Elenie Poulous reiterated the Church’s call to end offshore processing, ““The Uniting Church has always been opposed to the offshore processing of asylum seekers. We have been increasingly alarmed at the effects of the harsh and punishing conditions on Manus and Nauru. Australia must protect people not place them in situations of harm.
“The warehousing of asylum seekers in inadequate facilities in these offshore centres is entirely unacceptable. It is a breach of our obligations under international law and diminishes us as a nation.”
BJ Jafari, photo courtesy of Siobhan Marren and UnitingJustice
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