Don’t palm them off

PERTH churchgoers, community groups and activists will take to the streets on Palm Sunday to lobby for a “humane approach to asylum seeker policy”.

Now in it’s fourth year, the Walk for Justice for Refugees usually attracts around a thousand participants.

Perth Uniting Church is heading up the rally, along with 36 other church and community groups.

James Jegasothy, a board member of the Centre for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees, arrived in Australia as a Tamil refugee with his family from Sri Lanka.

• Rev Steve Francis, Tamil refugee James Jegasothy, and the Palm Sunday donkey. Photo supplied

He says he has been amazed that so many diverse organisations, including the Red Cross and Unions WA, have supported the walk.

“It shows the real breadth of community concern about this issue,” Mr Jegasothy says.

“West Australians want to see our government treat people fairly and decently.”

Uniting Church moderator Steve Francis said refugees are punished by the federal government’s “unfair approach” and he believes most Australians think offshore camps should be closed.

“The victimising of asylum seekers entered Australia’s politics more than 15 years ago, but Australians have always welcomed people from around the globe and continue to be compassionate to people in need,” Rev Francis says.

“The responsible solution is to bring the people on Manus Island and Nauru to Australia.

“While people are still suffering the negative impacts of the Australian government’s harsh immigration policies, we will walk.”

As part of the Palm Sunday rally there will be a re-enactment of Jesus’ famous donkey ride, with Hay Street mall substituting for Jerusalem.

The walk is on Sunday (April 9), 1pm, starting at St George’s Cathedral in Perth.

by CHARLIE SMITH

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