Palm Sunday Peace March returns to the streets
With the 2020 Palm Sunday Peace March events moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s rallies taking place was something of a return to pre-COVID days.
The rallies went ahead in capital cities. They called for the federal government to release asylum seekers held in detention, provide all refugees with permanent visas, and to provide basic income support for people in the community while their refugee status is assessed.
Precautions stood as a reminder of the pandemic, however, as people at the rallies socially distanced and registered for contact tracing purposes.
The Uniting Church was represented by several congregations and individuals at the Sydney rally.
Rev. Tara Curlewis addressed the crowd gathered at Belmore Park. She pointed out that the crowd during the first Palm Sunday, when Jesus entered Jerusalem, called out “Hosanna, hosana” which means “Please save us.”
“It’s a cry that refugees around the world are making today. Please save us from detention. Please deliver us,” Rev. Curlewis said.
She added that Jesus modelled a different approach to what the government of his day gave, a nonviolent approach that reached out to society’s most marginalised.
“The entry of Jesus that day was different, because people saw that…he spoke truth to power and he confronted the religious authorities of the day. The crowd wanted the difference that Jesus offered that day,” Rev. Curlewis said.
“The churches have always supported refugees and asylum seekers.”
Rev. Curlewis pointed to the arrival of asylum seekers from Uganda in the 1960s as an example of where the government had supported the successful integration of asylum seekers into the Australian community, with church’s support.
Video of the rally is available online here.
Palm Sunday marks the biblical story of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
The Palm Sunday Peace March has a long history, dating back to the 1980s. The rally draws together people from a number of faith traditions, including none at all.
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