Anti-deportation activists were unable to stop the deportation of Tamil refugee Raj Kumar (not his real name) on August 31.
At short notice, refugee rights activists and members of the Tamil community gathered outside Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney to protest the deportation. An application for an interim ban on the deportation was filed but not heard in time to prevent the deportation.
Johnny Tharma from Global Tamil Liberation Front (GLTO), which organised the anti-deportation action, told Green Left Weekly: “Kumar had attempted suicide a couple of months ago out of desperation around being deported.
“It is not safe for Tamils in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is not a stable country for most Tamil people, especially young people.
“There was a war against the Tamils carried out by the Sri Lankan government in 2009 in the north-east region and they killed up to 150,000 people.
“While there is not the same type of attacks now, it is still a militarised zone. For every five civilians there is one military person, and there are areas that are simply open air prisons.
“The government has a Prevention of Terrorism Act and under this act they can put people behind bars for up to 25 years.
“An estimated 6000 Tamils have disappeared. We haven't heard from Kumar since the Australian government deported him. He may have become one more of the disappeared.
“Instead of deporting Tamil refugees, the Australian government should pressure Sri Lanka to remove the military from the north-east of the country and hold an inquiry into the Tamils in prison and the 6000 missing Tamils. There should be a UN inquiry into the war and a political solution for the Tamils. After this, it will be safe to send people back.
“The Australian government has deported 10 to 20 Tamil refugees in the last few months — all silently. They tell them to visit the department of immigration, saying they have finished their case or there is more paperwork to do. They meet them, handcuff them, send them to the airport and deport them. We know they plan to deport more. But the community is coming together to act to stop this.”