PROTESTERS and faith leaders united to sing Amazing Grace in the darkness and call for the release of asylum seekers being detained in the heart of Brisbane recently.
Leaders from various Christian denominations and other faiths had gathered for a twilight prayer vigil during Refugee Week (June 14-20) at Kangaroo Point, not far from the hotel where the asylum seekers were held.
Fr Denis Scanlan, of the Stafford Catholic parish, was among them at the invitation of organisers Queensland Community Alliance.
“They wanted people from as many denominations and as many religions as possible to come along to express their solidarity with the refugees and maybe put another slant on the protest (outside the hotel),” Fr Scanlan said.
“We thought it was important to gather together to express our faith and remind ourselves and others that our faith tells us that these are human beings, God’s children and they must be treated with justice and compassion, like everybody else.”
The faith leaders wanted to follow social distancing guidelines so they restricted their group to 20.
After praying together they processed to the demonstration.
“The demonstrators were very noisy, giving speeches and (someone) on behalf of the Queensland Community Alliance approached them and told them what we were about, and so they handed the microphone over to us,” Fr Scanlan said.
“So, with all these other people who’d been there for days, we sang Amazing Grace together.
“Then I invited everybody to join us, if they wished, for seven minutes of silence, which is a long time on a main road – seven minutes of silence for one minute for every year in which some of these blokes have been in detention.
“And I was really appreciative that the vast majority did. We all went silent for seven minutes.
“Afterwards we thanked the police for their co-operation and I was talking to a couple of young police officers, and I said, ‘Thanks, fellas, you blokes are sort of the meat in the sandwich, aren’t you?’
“And one of them said: ‘Well, yes, we are and people don’t realise that we probably support what you’re protesting about …’”
Protesters were concerned about the mental and physical health of the 120 detainees at the Kangaroo Point Alternative Place of Detention.