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Sydney’s coalition of refugees, church groups and unions speak vs racism on Palm Sunday

The groundswell of public revulsion at the massive abuse of asylum seekers will be a focus at next Sunday’s Palm Sunday rally and march, along with heightened public concern at the official encouragement of racism, and policies creating more inequality.

“It is very disturbing that a majority of Australians have come to support harsh policies based on political expediency and fear. These are shamefully cruel to children, women and men alike, no matter where they come from,” said Fr Claude Mostowik from Pax Christi.

“A number desire even harsher treatment because of present and past government language. The words ‘asylum seeker’ arouse compassion in people in other parts of the world, but in Australia the words conjure up name-calling such as ‘illegals’, ‘only economic migrants’ and ‘criminals’. These hostile perceptions are due in part because people seeking asylum are kept in remote and inaccessible detention centres. If Australians could see their faces through the razor wire they would respond with more compassion. Let us see their faces!”

Sally McManus, from the Australian Services Union said, “ASU members work with asylum seekers and refugees and know firsthand their stories, why they came to Australia and the experiences they have had in our detention system. These stories are what our Government is trying to hide as any Australian who listened to them would be confronted by what is done in our name, the injustice and brutality. Nothing justifies treating other human beings, including children, in this way. Nothing. Together we must find a way to turn back the indifference, not turn back the boats.”

Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, said, “The government has declared war on asylum seekers, yet these are the people fleeing war and persecution. Until there is genuine peace in Afghanistan, Iraq or Sri Lanka, asylum seekers need protection in Australia. This government fails to protect the most vulnerable. Those needing protection face more persecution.”

“In the 1980s a coalition of concerned citizens and their diverse organisations came together in rallies against the threat of nuclear war,” said Bruce Childs, former march and rally convenor, and former Senator for NSW. “A decade ago we came together against the Iraq War. On Palm Sunday April 13 we meet again to reaffirm our humanity in demanding peace, equality and fairness of treatment for refugees. We reject the government policy anchored in racism and division”.

Palm Sunday rally and march
April 13, 2014, 1pm, Hyde Park North

Phil Glendenning (Refugee Council of Australia, Edmund Rice Centre); Sally McManus (Australian Services Union NSW ACT Services Branch); Firas Naji (Arab Council Australia); Dulcie Flowers (Aboriginal Activist); Muhammad Kamal Hussein (Hazara refugee); Sr Susan Connelly (Sisters of St Joseph)
Sydney Trade Union Choir
For further comment: Fr Claude Mostowik 0411 450 953; Bruce Childs 0412 803 457; Peter Murphy 0418 312 301; Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713