Palm Sunday online action: how to join in

| March 31, 2020 | Reply

Download a sign you can use here

In light of the Coronavirus crisis, the Palm Sunday organising committee has made the difficult but necessary decision to cancel the 2020 Palm Sunday Rally.

This does not mean that we will stay silent on Australia’s inhumane refugee regime. The conditions in the detention centres and in the hotels being used as Alternate Places of Detention place people in very high-risk environments. They are kept in crowded conditions with no possibility of practicing recommended social distancing to protect themselves from the virus.

Hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers who were transferred from Manus and Nauru for medical treatment are still being held in closed detention; many without the medical treatment they need. They now face an increased risk of infection. This is a public health issue as much as a humanitarian issue.

The isolation and lack of freedom that many of us are feeling as a result of having to self-isolate or social distance should be harnessed to express solidarity with refugees who continue to experience indefinite isolation as they are used and abused for political gain by the Australian Government.

To mark this year’s Palm Sunday, we are building an online large-scale expression of solidarity for all refugees who continue to experience the brutal effects of indefinite, mandatory detention. This is the #FreeTheRefugees campaign.

How will it work?

This Sunday 5 April take the following steps:

1. Add our Facebook frame to your profile picture by logging into Facebook and visiting this link. (This can be done in the lead up to the day to raise online awareness).

2. Take a picture of yourself holding up a sign. We have produced signs you can print out here with one of the following statements. But if you don’t have a printer just put a handwritten message on a piece of paper

a. Detention is an infection risk #freetherefugees
b. Lack of freedom from coronavirus crisis? Imagine #7yearsnofreedom #freetherefugees
c. Coronavirus crisis got you feeling isolated? Imagine #7yearsisolated #freetherefugees
d. Medicare and Centrelink for all asylum seekers #FreetheRefugees #NoTemporaryVisas
e. War creates refugees, no to Trump’s war threats #nomorewar #freetherefugees

3. Post to your Facebook/Instagram/Twitter account making sure to use the hashtags listed above.

4. Tell your friends and family to get involved, we want this to be BIG!

5. Please display one of our signs or other pro-refugee material such as posters or banners outside your home to raise public awareness.

We will not let our Government’s continued cruelty and ineptitude stop us from campaigning for a humane approach to refugees and people seeking asylum.

More background:

Detention is an infection risk

Over 35,000 people have signed the Human Rights for All petition calling for their release. The detention centres and hotels where refugees are imprisoned are breeding grounds for disease. The Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases and other medical experts have also called for their release.

One guard at the Kangaroo Point facility in Brisbane has already tested positive for coronavirus. NSW is already planning to release some prisoners from jail. This is an acknowledgement of the dangers and needs to be extended to detention centres too.

Please sign the Human Rights for All petition here and join our photo action on Sunday to demand the government #FreeTheRefugees.

Asylum seekers miss out on Centrelink payments

Thousands of asylum seekers on bridging visas are not eligible for any form of Centrelink payments, and miss out completely on all government assistance due to coronavirus, alongside those on temporary work visas. They are also ineligible for the Jobkeeper payments to allow businesses to keep workers on the payroll.

This is both a humanitarian issue and a health issue. Anyone who suspects they have the coronavirus must be able to access free medical care through Medicare and be able to self-isolate to prevent its spread.

Sign the petition here to demand asylum seekers are included in the government’s COVID-19 response.

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