A number of Uniting church congregations joined Uniting at the Sydney version of the Palm Sunday rally for refugees.
Organisers noted the event was fortuitously close to the 18 May election and the passage of the Medivac bill.
The Australian medical students association led the rally, part of a wider tradition of doctors and nurses who oppose Australia’s off Shore processing regime.
Australian soccer legend Craig Foster recently came into prominence during his efforts to free refugee Hakeem AlAraibi from a Thai prison.
Mr Foster said that bipartisan support had come from across the political spectrum, “people… stepped forward to save a young footballer.”
However, he said that while they had done this, at the same time, many parties still supported, “policies that are frankly inhumane.”
“If we fight for Hakeem, we must fight for everyone else.”
“It’s the values, the compassion, the feeling, that we have to carry into not just the election but beyond…”
Rev. John Barr represented the Uniting church at the rally.
Rev. Barr delivered a passionate address, calling on Australians to recognise the Other in their communities.
An annual tradition that commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Palm Sunday Peace rally is open to people from many faith backgrounds.
The event centres on the theme of peace and often focuses on the issues of the day. For example, during the 1970s and 1980s it had a particular focus on nuclear disarmament.
In more recent years, the event has focused on refugee rights and Australia’s detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru.
In 2019, the Morrison Liberal Government moved the last asylum seeker children off Nauru. However, more than 900 people remain in detention on Manus Island and Nauru.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor
Pictures courtesy of Fr Shenouda Mansour’s and Leichhardt Uniting Church Facebook page.