Tamil Refugee Council

Below is the text of the speech by Tamil refugee and member of the Tamil Refugee Council Lavanya Thavaraja to the Melbourne Palm Sunday refugee rally on March 25.

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I am really happy to see so many people here in support of refugees. This rally is very important for many refugees. This is what gives them hope in the face of danger.

The Tamil Refugee Council released this statement on March 10.

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The Tamil Refugee Council has condemned an early morning raid in which a refugee family was given just ten minutes to gather their belongings before being flown to Melbourne and detained at the Broadmeadows detention centre (Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation, MITA).

The Tamil Refugee Council released this statement on February 28.

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A former member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, or Tamil Tigers) deported under duress from Australia on February 22 is being harassed and intimidated, along with his family, by the Sri Lankan state.

Santharuban was handed over to Sri Lankan authorities at Bandaranaike airport, Colombo, where he was questioned for about four hours.

Seventy people rallied outside the Broadmeadows detention centre on February 18 to protest against the threatened deportation of Santharuban, a Tamil refugee.

Alex Bhathal, the Greens candidate for the upcoming Batman byelection, told the rally that Santharuban's life is in great danger if he is sent back to Sri Lanka, as crimes against humanity continue there and people previously deported have died.

Eighty people rallied in Dandenong, an outer Melbourne suburb, on February 11 against the planned deportation of Santharuban, a former member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who sought asylum in Australia after the defeat of the LTTE in 2009.

The LTTE fought for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island of Sri Lanka. Former members of the movement continue to be "disappeared, detained, tortured, and harassed by the Sri Lankan security forces", according to a statement by the Tamil Refugee Council (TRC), which organised the rally.

More than 200 people participated in a rally and march for refugee rights on September 2. A similar rally was also held in Sydney.

The demonstration was organised at short notice by the Refugee Action Collective in response to the federal government's decision to end the $100 a week income support for people who were brought to Australia from Manus Island and Nauru for medical treatment and evict them from the houses they are living in. This will initially affect 100 people, but may eventually affect many more.

About 150 people joined an emergency protest in Melbourne on April 17 telling the government to bring the refugees on Manus Island and Nauru to Australia.

The protest came after sailors from the Papua New Guinea navy fired shots into the detention centre and locals attacked refugees.

Trevor Grant passed away on March 6, after a long battle with asbestos-caused mesothelioma.

Trevor was well known as a sports reporter, particularly for his reporting on AFL, for many Melbourne newspapers. While the mainstream media has focused on that aspect of his life, what was not mentioned was the contribution he made to the community via 3CR, a community radio station in Melbourne, and as convenor of the Tamil Refugee Council.

Two groups of Tamils walked from Glen Waverley and Sunshine to the Melbourne CBD on March 15 to “alert Australians to war crimes and genocide in Sri Lanka”.

The walkers converged in front of the State Library, where a rally was held.

The Campaign for Tamil Justice organised the walk to coincide with a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The UNHRC meeting had been expected to hear a report on Sri Lanka by the UN human rights commissioner, but this has been delayed for at least six months.

The Tamil Refugee Council released this statement on November 29.

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The Australian government has almost certainly condemned another group of Sri Lankan asylum seekers to persecution, including torture, by returning them to their homeland, the Tamil Refugee Council said.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced on November 29 that a boat containing 38 people from Sri Lanka had been intercepted by an Australian customs vessel near the Cocos Islands on November 15 and held at sea for 11 days.

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