Uniting Church congregations throughout Australia are standing in solidarity with the refugees on Manus Island following their forced removal from the decommissioned detention centre.
Churches throughout Australia also posed with their arms crossed as a sign of solidarity with the men on Manus, who were transferred to the East Lorengau Transit Centre last Friday despite vehement opposition from both locals and refugees.
PNG police beat a number of refugees with metal poles during the removal operation. They also reportedly killed Foxy, one of the dogs living with the refugees, by the throwing the animal off the bus.
Doctors from Medecins Sans Frontieres are currently denied entry into the new compound to provide medical assistance to the refugees.
Uniting Church congregations in Victoria and Tasmania that participated in the expression of solidarity include: Williamstown, Rosanna, Boronia Road, Hoppers Crossing, Kingston, North Ringwood, The Village Church Mt Eliza, Hobart North and Croydon.
“At Banyule Network UC – Rosanna, we were reminded that Jesus, too, was a refugee who had to flee a murderous regime as a child,” Rosanna UC member Liz Mallen wrote in her congregation’s message to the Manus refugees.
“As an adult, he taught that to welcome a stranger is to welcome him. Our hearts welcome you as we reject what our government is doing to you.”
Uniting Church employees at the Assembly office in Sydney also showed their support for the Manus refugees on Tuesday morning.
Uniting Church President Stuart McMillan said the federal government must show moral leadership and resolve the ongoing crisis on Manus Island.
“Haven’t these people suffered enough? After all this time, is it still impossible for the federal government to show some compassion and bring them here?” Mr McMillan said.
“We stand together with our sisters and brothers of faith in other Australian churches calling for a long-term humanitarian solution that upholds the dignity of these vulnerable people.”
The Uniting Church has long called for an end to mandatory detention and the closure of all offshore processing centres.
“The federal government should take the lead in developing a genuine regional approach, where refugees are offered permanent protection regardless of their means of arrival,” Mr McMillan said.
“Just bring these poor people here!”
Thousands of protesters also took to the streets in Australian capital cities last Sunday to protest against the treatment of the refugees.
Please share whatever your congregation, faith community or agency is doing to protest the situation on Manus and support refugees by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.