Melbourne, Wednesday – The father of a three-year-old girl on the disappeared Tamil asylum-seeker boat has welcomed the news that she and the other 152 people on board have not been sent back to Sri Lanka.
“I’m very happy to know my wife and daughter, and everyone else, are safe at the moment. It’s good news at last to know where they are. I thank the Australian people who went to the court for them,” the father told the Tamil Refugee Council through an interpreter.
“I know it’s not settled yet but it’s such a relief to know that they have not been handed over to the Sri Lankan navy. A few days ago I thought they were on their way back to Sri Lanka and maybe jail and torture.
“I’m still very concerned about their welfare, though. I want to know if my little daughter, my wife and other relatives, are still healthy and in good care. I’m desperate to talk to them. I’m waiting every day for a phone call.”
The father, who fled Sri Lanka after being tortured by security authorities and lives in Europe, has three other relatives on the boat as well as his wife and three-year-old daughter, Febrina. Late yesterday he received the news of the Australian High Court hearing, which pierced the Australian government’s cloak of secrecy and revealed that the 153 asylum-seekers were on board an Australian customs boat.
The asylum-seekers face an uncertain future as lawyers prepare for a directions’ hearing within the next three weeks. However, for the time being, they appear likely to remain on the boat in Australian custody.
For further information contact Tamil Refugee Council on 0400 597 351.