Sri Lankan refugee family face deportation

The fate of a Sri Lankan asylum-seeker family from central Queensland will be decided in a Melbourne court on Wednesday, with a refugee council prepared to step in if they face deportation.

Lawyers for Tamil couple Nadesalingam and Priya, who have two Australian-born daughters, will appear before the Federal Circuit Court, eight weeks after the family was taken from its Biloela home and placed in detention.

Tamil Refugee Council spokesman Aran Mylvaganam said they were extremely concerned the family’s appeal would fail and they’d be deported

“We are preparing to stop a potential deportation through other means,” he told AAP.

“All we know is the system is set to fail Tamil asylum seekers. We have seen a lot of Tamil cases fail.”

Mylvaganam said the relationship between the Australian and Sri Lankan governments meant Sri Lankan took back their refugees who come to Australia by boat unlike other countries such as Iran.

Nadesalingam and Priya came to Australia by boat separately and settled in Biloela on a bridging visa, which has since expired.

Nadesalingam was getting ready for work at the local meatworks and their two-year-old daughter Kopika and 10-month-old baby Tharunicaa were in bed when border officials came to the house on March 5, giving them 10 minutes to pack.

A week later the family was taken to Perth Airport and put on a plane to deport them to Sri Lanka until last minute legal intervention saw them removed.

A rally will be held to support the family at the Flagstaff Gardens in Melbourne on Wednesday morning.

Family friend Angela Fredericks, who will be at the rally with other Biloela residents, said the family had been uplifted by the huge national support but admits they are struggling in detention.

“Kopika keeps crying and asking when they will go back to Biloela” Ms Fredericks told AAP.

She said many people in their small town remain in disbelief about the family’s removal. “They are a family who work here, who want to invest in this town. Where’s the sense?” Supporters have been asked to bring cardboard cockatoos to the rally, a symbol of the town.


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