The Refugee Action Coalition in Sydney released the statement below on July 27, after Tamil deportee Dayan Anthony was released from custody after being missing for 16 hours.
The Refugee Action Coalition has welcomed the release of Tamil asylum seeker Dayan Anthony from custody in Sri Lanka, but has rejected reports that Dayan’s recanting his claim of torture as a product of duress.
“After 16 hours of questioning without legal representation by the Sri Lankan CID, comments at Dayan’s press conference cannot be considered to be freely given. It is highly likely that his recantation was a condition of him being released at all,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“There is too much evidence both of Dayan’s mistreatment and the reports of torture of other Tamils for the comments at the press conference to be believable. Human Rights Watch reports that are more
than a dozen cases of asylum seekers tortured after being returned from Britain.
“Reports of Dayan’s comments such as, ‘Sri Lanka has become the safest place on the earth after the LTTE was wiped out from the country,’ smack of a script prepared by the CID for its own propaganda purposes.
“We are calling on the Australian government officials to publicly report what they witnessed at Dayan’s questioning and to explain why they were not present for the entire interrogation.
“We do not believe that Dayan is out of danger. In other cases, returned asylum seekers have been subjected to harassment and imprisonment months after being returned. Indeed, the families of asylum seekers and refugees are being harassed years after their relatives have fled Sri Lanka for Australia.
“We are calling on the Australian government to call a halt to all forced deportations to Sri Lanka. The concerns of the UN regarding Dayan and the threat of torture in Sri Lanka need to be properly investigated.
“The stage-managed show of Dayan’s press conference has only added to doubts that surround the Rajapaksa regime and added to our fears for the safety of Dayan and other Tamils deported to Sri Lanka. The Australian government must put an immediate halt to forced removals.”