Tamil family must be allowed to stay

August 30, 2019
Protesters demand that Priya, Nades and their two Australian-born daughters, Tharunicaa and Kopika be allowed to stay. Photo: Bring Priya, Nades and their girls home to Biloela/Facebook

An attempt to deport Priya, Nades and their two Australian-born daughters, Tharunicaa and Kopika, was halted mid-air by a court injunction preventing the family leaving Australia on August 29.

The family had been taken from Broadmeadows immigration detention centre to the hangar of a private charter company at Melbourne Airport late in the night. Priya was seen being dragged onto the plane.

While the plane took off, it later landed in Darwin with the family being taken in a van to an unknown destination.

They are potential witnesses in a Comcare investigation of breaches of the Work Health and Safety Act in the detention centre.
The family had been living in Biloela, Queensland, for four years until there home was raid by police and Border Force in March last year.

They have become the focus of a growing campaign to stop their deportation.

Supporters gathered at Melbourne and Darwin airports to protest their deportation and snap actions were held in several cities the following day.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to intervene and stop the deportations.

ACTU president Michele O’Neil said on August 30: “If the Morrison government fails to protect Priya, Nades and their children then it is failing to uphold the most basic functions of a government, and failing to uphold its obligations in international law and before the international community.

A hearing to decide the family’s fate has been scheduled in the Federal Court in Melbourne for September 4.

About 100 people rallied on August 25 to support the family in their bid to stay.

Refugee Action Collective’s Lucy Honan told the rally that the family had been subject to “medical neglect” in detention, but had recently been given health  checks, often a precursor to deportation.

She said supporters of the family would attempt to prevent any deportation via action at the detention centre and airport.

The Tamil Refugee Council’s Niro Kandasamy said detention had taken a toll on the children’s health.

Kandasamy also spoke of the situation in Sri Lanka, citing United Nations special rapporteur Ben Emmerson, who said torture is “endemic and routine” in Sri Lanka and disproportionately used against Tamils.

Claire Middlemas, from Unionists for Refugees, called on unions to take action to stop the deportation of the family. She cited the example of the successful campaign at Lady Cilento Hospital in Brisbane that stopped the deportation of baby Asha in 2016.

Family friend Brad Coath spoke of the physical and psychological stress caused by detention. He said two-year-old Tharunicaa had required surgery to remove four teeth as a result of malnutrition.

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