Welcome refugees: Close the Camps – Palm Sunday vigil and rally to demand justice for refugees

Canberra, 6 April 2017


Vigil: From 1pm, Friday 7 April to 1pm, Sunday 9 April, Civic Square

Rally: Sunday, 9 April, 1pm, Civic Square

Canberrans are urged to come out in strength and support a 48-hour vigil for justice for refugees that starts at Civic Square tomorrow afternoon and culminates in the Palm Sunday rally for refugees.

The Canberra Refugee Action Committee has organised a diverse program of activities over the 48 hours including film screenings, a faith service, Queer Mocktails, an evening of live music, a ‘freedom gallery’ of art by refugee artists and a public lecture by academic and refugee activist, Dr John Minns, on “The Invention of the Passport”.

Dr Minns, who is the spokesperson for RAC, urged Canberrans to attend both the vigil and the Australia-wide rally on Palm Sunday. “This is a great opportunity to find out more about the situation facing people in Australian detention centres and what we can do to change this,” he said.

“Thousands of Canberrans, along with people across Australia, will be rallying for justice for refugees and asylum seekers. We cannot and will not be silent while the Federal Government, supported by the Labor Opposition, continues to imprison people in Australia’s immigration detention centres, many for years on end. This is particularly so in light of the forced deportations that the PNG Government has now started, with Australian Government support,” Dr Minns said.

“This Palm Sunday we rally to welcome refugees and asylum seekers to Australia and to call for the immediate closure of Australia’s offshore immigration camps on Manus and Nauru and to stop deportations from Manus. We stand together for an Australia that is a leading advocate for genuine refugee protection internationally and puts this into practice at home.

“Please help make the rally a huge success by inviting many of your friends and family. The event details are on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/events/372888459759292) and also on our website, http://refugeeaction.org,” Dr Minns said.

Former chief minister and refugee advocate Jon Stanhope and ACT Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur will officially launch the vigil at 1pm tomorrow, along with former refugee Ismail Hosseini. The trio will also address a media conference.

Speakers at the rally will include Jamila Ahmadi, who is a refugee from the Hazara community and a student of International and Development Studies at the University of Adelaide, who was featured in the widely acclaimed documentary Freedom Stories; John Falzon, author and CEO of St Vincent de Paul Society of Australia; and Dr Minns.

RAC spokesperson Dr John Minns is available for comment on 0407 483 952.

For details about what’s happening to the refugees on Manus and Nauru, visit our website:



About the Canberra Refugee Action Committee

The Canberra Refugee Action Committee is part of a network of concerned citizens around Australia seeking the fair and humane treatment of refugees in Australia.

We are working to raise public awareness about the government’s obligations to give refuge to asylum seekers and treat them with dignity and humanity.

The Refugee Action Committee is composed of individuals from a broad range of backgrounds and is not associated with any political party.