Immigration

OPINION: I am a Tamil asylum seeker in Australia. I don’t hold hope

Source: Dateline

The Federal Court has extended the injunction preventing the deportation of the Biloela Tamil family. Shanmuganathan Nagaveeran is a Tamil asylum seeker in Melbourne and has been helping other refugees while he waits for the government's decision on his own determination. Shanmuganathan is deeply concerned about the Biloela Tamil family, and other asylum seekers, whose lives are in the hands of the Australian government.

I came to Australia by boat when I was 32.

I was first sent to Christmas Island, then transferred to the Nauru detention centre where I stayed for three years. To this day, I describe that facility as a human dumping ground.

In 2015, I was transferred to Australia and I was one of the lucky few people allowed to live here while I waited for a determination of my refugee status. Some of the people I lived with on Nauru are still there.

Now I am 39-years-old, living in Melbourne in a share house, and running a cleaning business with a friend. But I am still waiting.

I've been waiting more than three years for an interview with the Imigration Department who will determine whether I'm classified a refugee -- the answer will determine if I am deported back to Sri Lanka.

At the moment, I am scared. The Australian Government are deporting people back to Sri Lanka where, I believe, Tamil people are in danger.

I know of Tamils who have been deported from Australia back to Sri Lanka. They are in hiding and are still in fear of their lives. They are not free.

I believe there is still genocide happening in my home country against the Tamil people. The Sri Lankan government says there is nothing happening, that there is peace, but I don't believe that is true.

Two weeks ago, a friend of mine in Adelaide was taken to a detention centre in the middle of the night.

He lost his case in the Federal Court and was denied refugee status. He is being detained in Adelaide and is waiting to be deported. My friend is struggling to find a lawyer and I'm trying to help him, but it's a very hard situation.

We are Tamil asylum seekers, just like the Biloela Tamil family being detained on Christmas Island.

Today a judge extended their injunction which stops their deportation. So, they are still waiting.

Just like my friend, that family of four were picked up in the middle of the night and taken into detention. Eight-months later they were put on a flight back to Sri Lanka, which was stopped. Now, they are waiting on Christmas island.

I feel humanity is disappearing from this country.

The community of Biloela want Priya and Nadesalingam and their daughters, who were born in Australia, to stay in their community. But the government is ignoring their pleas and I don't understand why.

If the support of thousands can't keep them in Australia, what hope do other asylum seekers have?

I, along with other Tamil asylum seekers and refugees, risked our lives to come to Australia. We did that for a reason. It was not safe in our home countries. Only we know our own experience, nobody else has walked in our shoes.

I don't know what will happen to me if I am sent back to Sri Lanka. I could be put in prison, I am scared I could be killed.

I didn't come here to steal someone's job, or steal someone's land. I want to be a nice human being, and I will try to continue to do that while I wait.

My life is a question mark, I can't hold any hope. So I just do the best for this country while I am here.