Birthday party for three-year-old detainee

Seventy refugee supporters held a birthday party for a young girl outside the State Library on May 12. They ate birthday cake and sang "happy birthday".

But three-year-old Kopika was unable to attend. She was kept behind razor wire in the Broadmeadows detention centre, along with her parents and sister.

Her parents are Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka. Kopika and her sister were born in Australia. The family lived in Biloela, a small town in Queensland, until police raided their house at 5 am on March 5 and took them away.

The Biloela community initiated a campaign to free them and bring them back to the town. The Melbourne birthday party was a contribution to this campaign, which has won support around Australia and internationally.

Speakers explaining the situation to passers-by included Simone Cameron, a former Biloela resident, and Isabelle, a child who has visited Kopika in Detention.

Lavanya Thavarajah, representing the Tamil Refugee Council, told the crowd that about 5000 Tamil asylum seekers face deportation in coming months. She said there has been an increase of suicides and suicide attempts among these people.