Protesters support permanent residency for Rajan

July 19, 2021
Solidarity shown to Rajan inside hospital. Photo: Sue Bolton

Refugee rights supporters rallied outside the Northern Hospital in Epping on July 11 to show their support for a Tamil refugee who has been detained for more than 11 years. Rajan is being treated for leukemia.

Tamil Refugee Council spokesperson member Barathan said Rajan had come to Australia to seek “a life free of persecution”, but has been treated with “cruelty”.

His medical treatment, while held in the Broadmeadows detention centre, has been inadequate.

Viraj Dissanayake, a socialist and Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union delegate of Sinhalese background, said Sri Lanka is ruled by a “war criminal government” and is therefore not safe for Tamils.

It is not even safe for most of its citizens, he said, saying protestors have been arrested, including a teacher union leader.

Matt, a friend of Rajan who has visited him in detention, described him as a “loving, caring person” who cares for his fellow detainees.

Rajan has written to the government saying that he does not want to die in detention, and asking to be allowed to “die in peace”.

Moreland socialist councillor Sue Bolton, who is a member of the Refugee Action Collective, said while Rajan was recognised as a refugee, he was only detained because the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) claimed he was a security threat. Even after ASIO changed its assessment, he was still detained.

Other speakers included Pamela Curr and Alex Bhattal.

After the speakers, the crowd marched through a nearby shopping mall chanting slogans.

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