The fate of a Tamil asylum seeker family rests in the hands of the Federal Government and everyone seems to agree that it’s absolutely cooked. Even the most unlikely of allies.
It’s been a traumatic and stressful 24-hours for the family of four after the long battle against their deportation to Sri Lanka came to head with emergency injunctions and urgent court hearings.
Last night, Priya, her husband Nadesalingam, and their two Australian-born daughters were rushed from the Melbourne detention centre they had been held in for 18 months and bundled onto a secret midnight flight bound for Sri Lanka.
Police have arrived here at an isolated hangar near Melbourne Airport & are protecting a fence as 50+ #antideportation protestors demand the release of #Priya #Nades their children & all #Refugees #RefugeeRights #AsylumSeekers #BringThemHere #CloseTheCamps @hometobilo #Australia pic.twitter.com/vZOrsXfQnd
— Approaching Critical (@approachingcrit) August 29, 2019
Just after take-off, a judge granted the family a temporary injunction and the plane was forced to land in Darwin, where they have been hed in a hotel since.
This morning, the Federal court ruled that the youngest daughter, Tharunicaa (aged two. TWO.) can remain in Australia until a court hearing next Wednesday. But where does that leave the rest of the family? No one knows.
The story goes that Nades and Priya arrived in Australia separately by boat in 2012 and 2013. They married and had their two daughters in Australia, four-year-old Kopica and two-year-old Tharunicaa. The family have called Biloela in Central Queensland home for three years until March 2018 when they were arrested and placed in a Melbourne detention centre after Priya’s bridging visa expired. In May, their last bid for review was rejected by the High Court.
They, and thousands of supporters, have been fighting this case because they fear persecution if they return to Sri Lanka due to past family links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. But Peter Dutton reckons the family had been found “all the way to the High Court” not to be owed protection.
“No court or tribunal has ever said ‘oh look, there might be an opportunity for you to stay. You may be eligible’. Nobody has ever said that. Nobody has held out false hope,” he said on the Today Show, Friday morning.
it’s all very well to say “rules are rules” but the au pairs with connections who got busted on tourist visas got ministerial intervention because Peter Dutton said they deserved a chance – do the Biloela family not deserve a chance too?
— Angus Livingston (@anguslivingston) August 30, 2019
So the whole situation is absolutely fucked, and that just about sums it up. The longer it goes on, and more information that comes out, the more shameful and horrifying this is for Australians.
It’s so cooked that even our favourite shit-talking shock jock has stepped away from his sock drawer to take the side of thousands of supporters who have been calling ScoMo and the federal government to #letthemstay.
He says – in a very long-winded essay – that the “guilt of Government is obvious. They can’t justify what they’re doing.”
Shakespeare got it right. Humanity preys upon itself like monsters in the deep. The monsters here are government.
It’s a strange day when you and Alan Jones are on the same team.
And given that he’s decided to pipe up, and given the government’s propensity to do what he said, maybe they might do what we want them to do for once.
Let’s See What People Power Can Do
It’s pretty heart-warming to see thousands of people come together in support for this family. There has been so much people power pumping around the internet that the hashtag #HomeToBilo has became the top trending topic on Twitter, garnering the support of politicans and people around the nation.
I urge the Prime Minister to intervene to offer compassion and grace to the Tamil family. He can save them from being deported.
The two children must be so scared. It does no harm to allow them stay so they can get on with school and being young healthy kids. #hometobilo
— Sarah Hanson-Young💚 (@sarahinthesen8) August 29, 2019
This is my appeal to @ScottMorrisonMP.
The Prime Minister could put all this legal manoeuvring aside and end this uncertainty if he got @DavidColemanMP to use his powers of ministerial intervention.@HometoBilo #HomeToBiloela #hometobilo pic.twitter.com/90hvjPGlrs
— Kristina Keneally (@KKeneally) August 30, 2019
Earlier on Friday, protesters quickly rallied in the streets, gathering in front of the Melbourne Federal court and in Sydney to voice their frustrations and show their support.
— Gloria Kalache (@gloriakalache) August 29, 2019
The phone numbers to the offices of ScoMo, Peter Dutton and Skytraders (the company responsible for carting the family off to Sri Lanka, with a chillingly ironic name) were shared across Twitter and were no doubt ringing off the hook all day as well. But the staff in Dutton’s office showed how grotesque zero empathy is.
How media adviser’s work in @PeterDutton_MP’s office… they forgot to put me on hold so I overheard a conversation about how they would fake their unavailability. How professional #auspol
— Amber Austin-Wright (@AmberAW) August 30, 2019
What the actual?
— Nom De Plume (@nomdeplume42) August 29, 2019
— Trevor Williams (@SamidogWilliams) August 30, 2019
So what can all of this people power do? Something called Ministerial Intervention. That happens when humanity nudges up against policy, and, in this case, they make the right bloody decision.
Priya’s message to supporters: “The people of Australia are very kind, they have humanitarian values. They will accept me as a refugee. They have showered our family with love for the past 17 months. I am very hopeful that their love will succeed one day soon.” #hometobilo
— Rashida Yosufzai (@Rashidajourno) August 30, 2019
The longer this goes on, the more stress and trauma this family is dealt, the darker the shadow Australia is casting over its own history. And, frankly, the more we are proving our whole ‘white saviour’ act of ‘multiculturalism’ and preaching ‘tolerance’ is absolute bullshit.
This family has done nothing but try their best to make a new life in their local community. They have worked hard, started a beautiful young family, and what do they get for it? To be dragged from their homes in the middle of the night, man-handled by Border Police, separated from their screaming toddlers, and thrown on and off a plane headed out of their safe haven back into what they believe is a danger zone.
This is hard to watch, but don’t look away.
Watch the pain & trauma we’re causing this family. Watch these tiny children screaming in terror. Listen to them crying. Bear witness to the damage we’ve caused. Are we proud of ourselves, Australia? #HomeToBilo https://t.co/T5EYjMC6uR
— Sharna Bremner (@sharnatweets) August 30, 2019
Tell me how this is fair. Tell me how deporting this family adheres to our so-called ‘Australian’ principles of mateship and the fair go. Please, I’m dying to know.
The more pressure we pile on ScoMo and his motley crew, the more likely they will be forced to make the right decision.
Don’t be silent. Be loud. Show your support for this family and other Tamil and the refugee families your know. Contact your local politicans, call ScoMo and Peter Dutton, find them all, get in their ears.
People power is real. And it can do a world of good. We might even be able to keep a family together and bring them home.
Image Sources: Twitter (@PeterWMurphy1)