Tamil refugee activist Aran Mylvaganam was arrested during a protest at federal immigration, citizenship and multicultural affairs minister Andrew Giles’ office on April 4. Mylvaganam, who was held for three hours and released without charge, is a founder of the Tamil Refugee Council.
The protest was organised by the Young Refugees Collective and Victorian Socialists.
Mylvaganam said his arrest was an attack on free speech. “We went to the relevant minister to voice our opposition to the barbaric treatment of thousands of refugees by the Labor government and I was violently arrested.
“Police pushed me into a corner and handcuffed me while I was trying to help everyone else safely leave the office. They twisted and injured my arm. Andrew Giles’ staff collaborated with police through all of this.”
More than 70 refugees and supporters went to Giles’ office to demand that 12,000 refugees, who were not covered by Labor’s temporary protection visa decision in February, be given permanent protection.
Inside Giles’ office, refugees told their stories in Tamil. “We ask the Labor government, treat us like human beings. Please give me permanent residency. I don’t want to be a refugee until the end of my life,” one said.
“The Labor government has refused to give any answers to the 12,000 refugees … Most of the refugees here today arrived by boat before 2013, and because of this simple fact they are denied the right to live as human beings,” Mylvaganam said.