The Tamil Refugee Council is relieved that Peter Dutton’s attempt to become leader of the federal Liberal Party has failed. But the Scott Morrison-led Coalition will continue to offer only inhumanity to refugees and asylum seekers.
In his brief tenure as immigration minister in the Tony Abbott Coalition government (September 2013 — December 2014), Morrison implemented Operation Sovereign Borders, a military-led border security operation to stop refugees from reaching Australia by boat.
Some of the policy measures included turning boats back to Sri Lanka, regardless of the refugee status of passengers; reintroducing temporary protection visas for refugees living in Australia to deny them permanent resettlement; and increasing the capacity of offshore detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.
It was a cold-hearted policy that received global condemnation for breaching international laws against torture and persecution.
And it has had deadly consequences.
On June 1, 2014, Tamil refugee Leo Seemanpillai died from self-immolation while waiting for official refugee status. Morrison stooped to a new low by refusing Leo’s parents a visa to come and bury their son.
In a criminal act of pathological indifference, despite overwhelming evidence of Tamils fearing for their lives, Morrison oversaw the detaining of Tamil refugees at sea in July 2014 and the attempt to deliver 157 Tamils back into the hands of their oppressor.
Concerted efforts by Morrison and his department to deny that torture and sexual violence continue to be inflicted upon Tamil people helped Sri Lanka whitewash its genocidal crimes against Tamils.
Morrison helped to maintain a close relationship with the Sri Lankan regime. In 2014, he welcomed Gotabaya Rajapaksa to Canberra for the first time. Rajapaksa, as defence secretary, oversaw the slaughter of more than 70,000 Tamils in the final days of the country’s war in 2009.
Our new Prime Minister was happy to rub shoulders with a mass murderer under investigation by the United Nations for war crimes.
The escalation in deportations and separation of Tamil refugee families today is a worrying trend that highlights the ongoing targeting of Tamil refugees by this government.
Our new Prime Minister is no friend of Tamils.