Tamil family taken off plane in Australia deportation reprieve

From BBC - March 14, 2018

A Tamil family seeking asylum in Australia were saved from deportation minutes before their plane for Sri Lanka was due to fly on Tuesday night.

A last-minute injunction paused the removal of Nadesalingam and Priya, and their two Australian-born daughters.

The community from their Queensland hometown has been campaigning for their return ever since they were removed from their home early one morning.

The family of four remain in detention, pending a hearing in early May.

Their 5,500-strong hometown community of Biloela, in central Queensland, has organised a petition that has collected more than 76,000 signatures, calling on Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to grant them the right to stay.

'10 minutes to pack'

Nadesalingam and Priya - who met and married in Australia - arrived separately by boat in 2012 and 2013 respectively, after fleeing Sri Lanka's civil war.

"Nades faces persecution for his former association with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which was defeated by the Sri Lankan armed forces," said Ben Hillier, a Tamil Refugee Council spokesperson.

Nadesalingam's application for asylum has been rejected by Australian authorities. Priya had been granted bridging visas and although she was expecting another, the last had just run out when police and Australian Border Force officers raided their home just before dawn on 5 March.

Family friend and social worker Angela Fredericks, who started the petition, told the BBC: "It was done in such secrecy. They were given 10 minutes to pack up their lives."

Nadesalingam was getting ready for work at a local meat factory and Priya was warming a bottle of milk for the baby when authorities entered their home at 05:00.

Nine-month-old Dharuniga and Kopiga, two, were separated from their parents and the whole family were taken 1,500km from Queensland to Melbourne.

In Melbourne they said they were told they could not call anyone until they signed documents agreeing to their deportation.


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