The Tamil Refugee Council has described as reprehensible an attempt on Tuesday to deport a Tamil family previously removed from their home in Biloela, central Queensland.
Priya, her husband Nades and their daughters – 9-month-old Dharuniga and 2-year-old Kopiga, who were born in Australia – endured a traumatic week in detention at the Broadmeadows detention centre (MITA – Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation).
But things took a turn for the worse yesterday.
According to Priya, she and Nades were handcuffed, put in a van and taken to an airport. Their baby daughters were separated from them and traveled in another van.
They were flown to Perth, where they were put on an aircraft with several dozen other Tamils, who were deported to Sri Lanka last night. A last minute legal intervention resulted in Border Force officers removing Priya, Nades, Dharuniga and Kopiga from the plane.
“This was a dastardly and reprehensible action,” said Ben Hillier, Tamil RefugeeCouncil spokesperson. “Dharuniga and Kopiga were born in Australia. This is their home – they have never been to Sri Lanka and do not hold Sri Lankan citizenship.
“Priya and her family fled Sri Lanka in 2000 and Priya came to Australia five years ago. She has not been in the country for 18 years and her family is no longer there.
“Nades faces persecution for his former association with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which was militarily defeated by the Sri Lankan armed forces in 2009.”
The campaign to grant the family protection and allow them to return to their home in Biloela continues. Around 60,000 people have signed an online petition requesting that the Home Affairs Minister intervene.
“The community of Biloela is shocked and dismayed that Border Patrol rounded the family up last night and tried to send them to Sri Lanka – despite the pleas of so many to reconsider deportation,” said Angel Fredericks, a family friend and resident of Biloela.
“The way the family was treated is an absolute disgrace. We are holding a vigil tonight, 5.30pm, at the Biloela Lions Park, to reflect on the inadequacies of our broken system. I am deeply distressed by the manner in which these four beautiful souls are being treated.
“Handcuffed like criminals. Separating babies and infants from parents. Has Australia learnt nothing from our history? I urge the government to take a long look and think about what it is doing.”
The Tamil Refugee Council is calling on the Australian government to return Priya, Nadesalingam, Dharuniga and Kopiga to their home in Biloela, and to give Priya and Nadesalingam permanent protection so they can continue building their lives and raising their children in peace.
Ben Hillier 0430 453 503
Angela Fredericks 0420 315 153