Australia

Supporters of Tamil family to hit campaign trail in bid to halt deportation

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Supporters of a Tamil asylum-seeker family will confront the immigration minister on the campaign trail in a bid to save them from deportation.

Supporters of a Tamil asylum-seeker family plan to corner federal Immigration Minister David Coleman in the dying days of the election campaign in a desperate final bid to keep them in Australia.

Family friend Angela Fredericks is among those who will travel from the tiny town of Biloela, in central Queensland - where the family had been living before their bridging visa expired in 2018 - to the minister's marginal Sydney electorate to ask for him to intervene.

The High Court on Tuesday refused the family - Priya, her husband, Nadesalingam and their Australian-born daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa - special leave to appeal last year's Federal Court ruling that they could not stay in the country.

Nadesalingam and Priya with their two children. They are likely facing deportation.
Nadesalingam and Priya with their two children. They are likely facing deportation.
TRC

They were taken into custody by Australian Border Force officers during a dawn raid last year after their bridging visa expired. They have spent the past 14 months in a Melbourne detention centre.

"We're really fearful they could be deported any moment ... so we're just praying that if we're in his seat of Banks and we create enough buzz he can't ignore us," Ms Fredericks told AAP on Wednesday.

Ms Fredericks said supporters began phoning Mr Coleman's office on Tuesday but had not been able to speak to the minister to present their plea.

Immigration Minister David Coleman.
Immigration Minister David Coleman.
AAP

Mr Coleman, whose office told AAP on Wednesday they would not comment on specific cases, holds the seat in southwest Sydney by a slim 1.4 per cent margin.

He wrested it from Labor in 2013, who had held it for 64 years prior.

"Banks is a very multicultural area," Ms Fredericks said.

"How can (people) knowingly vote for a government that is going to destroy these people's lives?"

Ms Fredericks is also hoping Banks local and former Socceroo Craig Foster, who campaigned to free refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi from prison in Thailand, will lend his weight to help to save the family from deportation.

"I don't want this to become political because we're talking about a family, who are beautiful souls, but I want people to know they have the power to make their lives better," Ms Fredericks said.

Tamil Refugee Council spokesperson Aran Mylvaganam told SBS News the family is struggling with the outcome.

"They're constantly in tears, they're calling us every hour to see what can be done to stop the deportation," he said.

Hakeem Al- Araibi (R) and Craig Foster (L). Supporters of the Tamil family are hoping to enlist the former Soceroo.
Hakeem Al- Araibi (R) and Craig Foster (L). Supporters of the Tamil family are hoping to enlist the former Soceroo.
Instagram/ fozzfootball

"They're in fear, particularly with the recent Easter bomb attacks in Sri Lanka.

"We're calling on the Australian government to let this family to stay here and allow other Tamils to live here as well."

The family could be deported to the same village where their mother watched her then-fiance and five other men burn to death before her eyes.

Rally to stop the deportation of a Sri Lankan family (file image)
The High Court has denied a Tamil asylum-seeker family's last-ditch bid to avoid deportation. (AAP)
Supplied

They have told supporters they fear being sent back to Sri Lanka, where they fear they'll be persecuted  over family links to the Tamil Tigers terror group.

On Tuesday, Sri Lankan Consul General to Australia Lal Raj Wickrematunga told SBS News it was "safe" for the family to return.

"As far as the Sri Lankan government is concerned, Sri Lanka is safe for Tamil families to return.

"The government has made an appeal for all those who’ve left Sri Lanka and sought refugee status elsewhere to come back."

The couple came to Australia separately by boat in 2012 and 2013 following Sri Lanka's civil war and quickly became much-loved members of the Biloela community, in central Queensland.

Area councillor Pat Brennan said the community's heart ached for the family.

"Your heart breaks for those little kids. We all feel sorry for them and we hope the right decision is made," he said.

Mr Mylvaganam said the Biloela community is "heartbroken".

"They've been tirelessly campaigning for this family," he told SBS News.

"The Australian government is maintaining complete silence so far. We don't know what they're planning to do.

"I just hope that the Australian government hears their pleas as well."

Nadesalingam was a valued employee at the local meatworks and Priya used to take her homemade curries to the doctors at Biloela Hospital.

Their daughters don't know any other country but Australia. 

With AAP

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