Several Australian politicians on Sunday, 1 September, urged the government to let a Sri Lankan Tamil family, fighting deportation, stay back, while thousands of people took part in nationwide rallies showing their support to the couple and their two Australian-born toddlers who are caught up in the country's hardline immigration policies.
The couple, Priya and Nadesalingam, along with their two daughters, four-year-old Kopika and two-year-old Tharunicaa, were moved to a detention centre in the remote Christmas Island on Saturday, despite a court order blocking their deportation.
The family is fighting to remain in Australia because they fear persecution in Sri Lanka.
According to a Australian Associated Press (AAP) news agency report, opposition leader Anthony Albanese has raised the issue with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and highlighted the need for the immigration minister to intervene in this case.
‘This Is Curelty’
"These people should be settled here in Australia. It won't undermine the government's migration policies. It will simply say that this is a government that is prepared to listen to what the community are saying and saying so strongly," the Labour leader told reporters in Sydney.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale also rallied his support for the family, saying the government's action to deport the family to the detention centre was a "senseless cruelty".
“This is cruelty...and it needs to end,” he said.
Shadow Minister for Home Affairs Kristina Keneally said it was an opportunity for Morrison to show Christian leadership and reflect upon the teachings of the gospel.
"Open your heart, understand what the gospel tells us as Christians to do," she said.
Priya and Nadesalingam arrived in Australia by boat separately in 2012 and 2013 seeking asylum. Their daughters, born in Australia, have never been to Sri Lanka.
Australia’s Actions Condemned by UN
The Australian government's hardline immigration policies, include turning away refugees arriving by boat and de facto offshore detention, both measures condemned by the United Nations.
According to the Department of Home Affairs, the family has been comprehensively assessed a number of times and consistently been found not to be genuine refugees.
“Unlawful non-citizens are only removed if the department is satisfied they do not engage Australia’s non-refoulement obligations and that removal would not breach Australia’s international obligation,” a Home department spokesman said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people participated in rallies in Melbourne and other cities and towns across Australia, urging the government to let the family stay.
Chanting “let them stay”, they marched through the cities.
In Sydney, crowds sang "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" for the two children – who were born in Australia but do not have citizenship, while in Adelaide, demonstrators carried banners carrying slogans like "Ashamed to be Australian".
The Department of Home Affairs had earlier ordered the family to be sent to Sri Lanka. However, a Federal Court on Friday extended an interim injunction against the deportation until Wednesday, following which the aircraft on which the family was travelling to Sri Lanka was grounded before it left the Australian airspace.
Subsequently, the family was moved to the Christmas Island on Saturday.
The ABC news on Sunday quoted Priya as saying that she and her family were hoping to return to their Queensland home of Biloela.
(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)
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