Australia

Protesters rally for Sri Lankan asylum seeker family facing deportation

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Protesters supporting a Sri Lankan family facing deportation have descended on a federal court in Melbourne.

Demonstrators have protested outside a federal court in Melbourne in support of a Sri Lankan family facing deportation.

In a morning raid in March, Border Force officers seized Tamil Nadesalingam and his family from their home in the central Queensland town of Biloela and put them in immigration detention in Melbourne.

Many residents from Biloela made the journey to take part in Wednesday's protest.

Nadesalingam, Priya, Dharuniga and Gopiga.
Nadesalingam, Priya, Dharuniga and Gopiga.
Supplied

Biloela social worker Angela Fredericks said the family had been contributing greatly to the community.

"They are just the most beautiful, gentle souls. They are just so warm and compassionate. They're so grateful, so thankful for anything, the slightest little thing you do for them," she said.

"This family is always going to be part of Biloela. So we will be with them, 100 per cent, no matter what happens."

Their immediate deportation was thwarted by last-minute legal action, and, now, the case has gone to the Federal Court.

Supporter Simone Cameron said the family's right to a fair hearing had been denied.

Placards at the protest.
Placards at the protest.
SBS News

"I just think that it's heinous that we could be doing that to people who have committed no crime whatsoever. There was no need for them to be detained all this time," she said.

"They could have been released into the community, pending their court case today."

But the government said their case has been comprehensively assessed and does not meet Australia's asylum-protection obligations.

Refugee activists fear the early-morning raid and subsequent attempt to swiftly deport the family to Sri Lanka is being used to send a tough message to others seeking asylum in Australia.

The Tamil Refugee Council's Aran Mylvaganam said fewer than one in 10 cases for asylum are accepted.

He disputes the Australian and Sri Lankan governments' position that it is now safe for Tamils to return to the once war-torn country.

"If Tamils are deported back to Sri Lanka, they are being harassed, they are being tortured, some are being forcibly disappeared. What we know is that nothing has changed for Tamils in Sri Lanka."

The court has reserved its decision.

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