‘Bring them home!’

June 5, 2010

Refugee advocates have launched the “Bring them home, minister Evans!” campaign in response to the news that 92-year-old Irene Joseph, deported to Sri Lanka with her 68-year-old son on March 5, had collapsed and almost died in the village where they now live.

Joseph is permanent resident of Australia and had lived here since 1979. In 1996, when she re-entered Australia after a holiday, she was mistakenly issued with a temporary visa.

This stopped her from sponsoring her son Edward, who was also her long-term carer. Edward was denied residency and his mother faced the prospect of being left without him, despite being dependent on him for her physical and mental wellbeing.

She accompanied him back to Sri Lanka; wrenching her from her home, her medical team, support systems, family and friends.

On the ABC’s March 4 Lateline, human rights lawyer Robert Richter said the Australian government was “sending a woman to a premature death” and described it as “gratuitous cruelty”.

Tess Lawrence, director of the Bring Them Home campaign, said: “Irene Joseph is entitled to die of old age, instead of a broken heart while being gnawed to death by rats. A death sentence has been imposed upon this woman, albeit by default.

"It is intolerable that a government that constantly bleats about its alleged humanity and compassion is poised, at worst, to commit bureaucratic manslaughter.”

[For more information about the campaign, call Tess on (03) 9417 6398.]

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