More than 250 people turned out this year for the Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees and people seeking Asylum held on the Strand
Townsville People Demand Justice for Refugees
More than 250 people turned out this year for the Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees and People seeking Asylum held on the Strand on Sunday 25 March. The Walk went from the Rockpool to the Gregory Street Amphitheatre and was led by Bishop Tim Harris, Bishop Bill Ray from the Anglican Church and Rev. Bruce Cornish from the Uniting Church.
(Church leaders take the lead at the 2018 Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees and Asylum Seekers)
Palm Sunday is the day we remember Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem which took place in the week before he was crucified. Jesus chose to ride on a donkey – a symbol of peace. In the 1980s large peace rallies were held on Palm Sunday in cities around Australia including Townsville. In more recent years on Palm Sunday, people have rallied for justice for refugees.
In Townsville we held our first Walk for Justice for Refugees in 2017 attended by 200 people. Our organising committee began planning for the 2018 Walk in February. Our committee had representatives from local Amnesty International Action Groups, from the Townsville Multicultural Support Group (TMSG), from the Catholic Diocese, and from Crossing Borders for Health – a group representing students in the Health Sciences at JCU.
Our goal was to get the word out about the Walk to as many people in the community as possible and we were very pleased with the diverse turnout on the day. We had people from churches and other faith groups, from human rights groups, people who had come to Australia as refugees, students and other community groups.
Walkers from the Young Christian Students (YCS).
Given the religious significance of Palm Sunday we were very pleased when a number of church leaders agreed to lead the Walk. In his speech at the Amphitheatre at the conclusion of the Walk, Bishop Tim Harris said that working to safeguard the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers was a non-negotiable for Australian Christians.
Other speakers included Meg Davis from TMSG and Innocent Rwamuhizi from the Townsville Congolese community. Innocent told us of the plight of refugees living in Kiziba Refugee Camp in Rwanda. The food rations to people living in the camp had been slashed early in the year and a number of people in the camp have been killed by Rwandan security forces in the ensuing unrest. Many Congolese people living in Townsville have relatives living in Kiziba so they are very distressed by what is happening.
The organising Committee were very excited about the success of the Walk and very thankful that the rain held off until the Walk had finished and people had gone home. We look forward to an even bigger turnout in 2019.