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December 8, 2011

LEGAL EFFORTS UNDERWAY TO STOP GOVERNMENT DEPORTING TAMIL ASYLUM SEEKERS

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Documents have been lodged in the Melbourne Federal Magistrates Court this morning (Thursday) seeking an injunction to prevent the government removing a Tamil asylum seeker from Australia. The case has been set for hearing at 10.15am, 9 December 2011, before Federal Magistrate Burchardt.

The asylum seeker is scheduled to be removed from the Perth detention centre to Colombo on Monday, 12 December. He is one of two Tamil asylum seekers threatened with being forcibly deported. Last minute legal action is also being considered for the other asylum seeker scheduled for removal on 13 December.

The 37 year-old Tamil arrived in Australian in March 2010, and his wife and child are still living in Sri Lanka.

“We have grave fears for the safety of both the men threatened with deportation. Sri Lanka remains a very dangerous place with thousands of Tamils detained, without trial, in internment camps,” said Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The area around Mannar, where this man is from, is under heavy military occupation. Many Tamils in the area have been displaced either because villages have been destroyed or land is being appropriated under transmigration programs driven by the Sri Lankan government.

“His family has been pushed off their land and his wife has been regularly harassed by the military, as recently as 27 November. The army accused her husband of being associated with the Tamil Tigers and questioned her regarding his whereabouts. A statement from the local priest refers to disappearances happening daily in the area.

“The man actually came to Australia from a Tamil refugee camp in India and is registered in that camp, but the government has refused to send him to India, insisting on deporting him to danger in Sri Lanka.

“The Australian government knows it is not safe to send anyone to Sri Lanka. The President of Sri Lanka, who Julia Gillard welcomed as a friend at the recent CHOGM conference, is accused of war crimes by the UN.

“In May last year, the Edmund Rice Centre reported that the Sri Lankan government ‘takes the view that any Tamil who fled the country had to be a sympathiser of the defeated Tamil Tigers,’ and ‘all asylum seekers returned to Sri Lanka in recent months are handed over to the CID, the Sri Lankan police, and taken into custody.’

“In November 2009, Sujendran, a Tamil asylum seeker who returned from Indonesia to Sri Lanka was detained and tortured by Sri Lanka’s CID. In October 2009, Sri Lankan asylum seekers deported from Australia were detained, beaten and jailed by the Sri Lankan authorities. A year later Amnesty International issues an alert regarding the dangers being faced by three of those returned (http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/23625/). Sri Lanka is not safe. Australia has an obligation not to return asylum seekers to danger, but the government is turning a blind eye to the abuse of human rights in Sri Lanka,” said Rintoul.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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