Gov't stopped from deporting Tamil man

December 11, 2011
Refugee rights activists stop deportation. Photo by Zeb Parkes

The statement below was released n December 12 by the Refugee Rights Action Network WA.

* * *

Today, just a few hours before he was due to be returned to Sri Lanka, a Tamil father's deportation order was stopped by the High Court.

On Friday, the Federal Magistrates court dismissed an application for an injunction on the deportation of two Tamil asylum seekers. However on Friday Mr F's case was added to a High Court Challenge to elements of off shore processing that violate procedural fairness.

The lawyers contacted the governments’ solicitors Friday afternoon to "request" the deportation order be stopped. Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN) members visited the men facing deportation and it became clear the government and Serco were intending to continue with the deportation irrespective of an active case in process.

The 37 year-old Tamil arrived in Australian in March 2010, and his wife and child are still living in Sri Lanka.

“We have grave fears for the safety of both the men threatened with deportation. Sri Lanka remains a very dangerous place with thousands of Tamils detained, without trial, in internment camps,” said Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition.

“This man’s family has been pushed off their land and his wife has been regularly harassed by the military, as recently as 27 November. The army accused her husband of being associated with the Tamil Tigers and questioned her regarding his whereabouts. A statement from the local priest refers to disappearances happening daily in the area.

“The Australian government knows it is not safe to send anyone to Sri Lanka. In November 2009, Sujendran, a Tamil asylum seeker who returned from Indonesia to Sri Lanka was detained and tortured by Sri Lanka’s CID. In October 2009, Sri Lankan asylum seekers deported from Australia were detained, beaten and jailed by the Sri Lankan authorities. A year later Amnesty International issued an alert regarding the dangers being faced by three of those returned. Sri Lanka is not safe. Australia has an obligation not to return asylum seekers to danger, but the government is turning a blind eye to the abuse of human rights in Sri Lanka.”

Monday, the day Mr F was due to be put on flight 226 Singapore Airlines at 3:55 PM, RRAN staged a protest at Perth IDC and successfully prevented Serco from removing from the centre another man due to be deported tomorrow. Mere hours before the flight was scheduled to leave, and after Mr F had been removed to the airport the news came through that an injunction in the high court had been granted.

Victoria Martin-Iverson said that the news was met with great joy by the activists and asylum seekers. “Amidst the usual chants of 'Freedom' and 'Refugees are welcome here', we chanted 'This time we won: we got an injunction' and 'No deportations today'. The man due to be deported tomorrow got word to us, 'You all rock!'”

“Justice had one small win today,” said Martin-Iverson. “We now wait to find out the fate of the second man who is due to be deported tomorrow unless another injunction is granted.”

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