UCA makes its presence felt at Palm Sunday march

Uniting Church members were out in force across Victoria and Tasmania to support the Palm Sunday rallies against offshore detention of refugees and asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru islands.

In Melbourne, Moderator Sharon Hollis joined a couple of hundred other UCA members to march behind a prominent Synod banner following a rally held in front of the State Library.

“I’m proud to see the Uniting Church support the Palm Sunday rally in large numbers,” Synod Social Justice Advocate Denisse Sandoval said.

“As people of faith we have to continue standing up for what is right. Keeping people in detention for years when they are seeking asylum and then keeping them on temporary visas for years is wrong.”

During the rally the crowd heard a recorded message from Kurdish detainee Behrouz Boochani, who this year won the Victorian Prize for Literature for his book No Friend But the Mountains that he wrote as text messages detailing his five years of incarceration on Manus island.

“I believe we should continue to stand up against this government in any way we can,” Behrouz said in his message.

“I would like to ask Australians to not be silent in front of what the government is doing in Manus and Nauru.”

Lawyer, writer and community advocate Nyadol Nyuon, who was born in an Ethiopian refugee camp, said the fact that people in detention won literary awards showed how foolish Australia was in denying them the chance to enhance the community.

She called for a different kind of humanity, “one that has at its centre the idea of kindness, forgiveness and mercy instead of simply winning votes and making careers”.

Uniting Church congregations represented at the march included Adding, Wesley, Coburg, Richmond, Hawthorn, Hampton, Cowes, Ivanhoe, Brunswick, Manningham, Mooroolbark, Ringwood, North Ringwood, Elsternwick, Swan Hill, Boronia and Fairfield.

There were also students from Uniting Church independent school Wesley College.

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