Canberra Palm Sunday Refugee Rally Remains Largest, Sees More Student Groups March
On the 25th of March, Australia’s support for refugees was demonstrated in the annual Palm Sunday Rally, with new contingents and larger student turnout.
The Palm Sunday Rally sees groups of Australians march to show solidarity with refugees detained by the Australian government. It takes place annually around Australia on the 25th March, also known as ‘Palm Sunday‘, a religious day observed by Christians.
Canberra’s rally, organised by the Canberra Refugee Action Collective, remains the largest rally in the country by proportion of the population, where it continues to grow – at around 3.000 people this year.
This year’s rally had students from the ‘School Students for Refugees Group’ and the ‘University of Canberra Refugee Action Club‘ march – with some University of Canberra students from the campus’s ‘Amnesty International Club‘ marching under Amnesty International’s banner.
New contingents marched, including the ‘Australian National University Medical Students Group’, an offshoot of the larger ANU Refugee Action Committee. Separate sub contingents such as this likely contributed to the larger number of contingents this year, as well as a larger turnout of young people and students, as estimated by the Canberra RAC.
This year’s rally also hosted new speakers. While traditionally hosting only live speakers, the rally broadcasted a message using a large screen in the plaza, from Manus detainee and journalist Behrouz Boochani.
Boochani addressed the large crowd on why it was important for them to rally for refugees.
“It’s very important for us because it makes us stronger to resist in this place and to get freedom one day,” he said.
An issue Boochani discussed in his message was the resettlement deal between Australia and the U.S. to relocate Manus refugees to America.
“As you know the deal with America is too slow and it’s very important that people in Australia put pressure on the government and continue to fight against this policy,” said Boochani.
Other protestors at the rally included groups from the Australian Catholic University, Greens senator Sarah Hanson Young, and a variety of small groups representing different sections of the community.
Organiser and Canberra Refugee Action Club member Sophie Singh attributed the large turnout to strong feelings in the community about the issue.
“This reflects the strength of feeling on this issue in the local community, but also the strength of the local campaign, as evidenced by the breadth and depth of the cross-section of the community who attended,” said Singh.