Message getting out

THE Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees had its best-ever turnout in Perth over the weekend, with 1500 people marching in the CBD.

Uniting Church social justice officer Kate Leaney said the turnout demonstrated the community’s growing concern over the Turnbull government’s treatment of asylum seekers.

“I really just think it’s telling of how many people in the community really want to see justice for refugees,” Ms Leaney said.  “It’s a response to how our leaders have been treating people on Manus and Nauru and here in the community as well.”

With support from over 50 human rights and religious groups, the protest called on Australia’s political leaders to abandon their current refugee policies and protect those seeking safety.

• 1500 people demanded a fairer go for refugees on Sunday, former WA premier Carmen Lawrence (front with glasses) among them. Photo by Kelsey Atkinson

Organised by the Justice for Refugees WA network, the rally led demonstrators from St George’s Cathedral through to the Murray Street and Hay Street malls in a show of support.

About 1700 asylum seekers who tried to get to Australia by boat still remain on Nauru and Manus Islands despite a deal with the United States. The US under former president Barack Obama agreed to take on an undisclosed number of refugees, but the deal faces opposition from current president Donald Trump who described it as “dumb” and accused Australia of trying to export terrorist bombers to his country.

With a 50 percent increase in the turn out for the walk on previous years, Ms Leaney said the public had taken a stance.

“The crueller our leaders become the more the community steps in and takes on that role of supporting and advocating for justice,” she said.

“We will be launching crowd funding to be able to raise the much needed funds necessary to support these groups.”

by MICHAEL ROBERTS 

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