Refugee Action Collective (Vic)

Free the refugees! Let them land, let them stay!

Archives July 2012

Media Release: Deported Tamil asylum seeker interrogated for 16 hours

Deported Tamil asylum seeker interrogated for 16 hours then released but still in danger

Distraught family members of deported Tamil asylum seeker Mr Dayan Anthony have finally been reunited with him. Anthony was deported on July 25.

Anthony was interrogated for 16 hours after being handed over to the Sri Lankan police intelligence unit (CID) at Colombo airport. During this time, the Sri Lankan police refused to give the family any information.

In a scene reminiscent of hostage dramas when hostages are paraded before camera and forced to say the words of their captors, Anthony was forced to address a media conference where he recanted his claims of previous torture.

Refugee Action Collective spokesperson Sue Bolton said today that she believes the statements made by Anthony in the press conference were statements made under duress.

Bolton said that she believed that “It is not surprising that Anthony agreed to the press conference after 16 hours of interrogation without any legal representation.

“It is highly likely that it was a condition of Anthony’s release that he recant about his previous experience of mistreatment and torture. It is also highly likely that he was threatened during the interrogation in order to get his agreement to recant.

“The Human Rights Watch has documented a dozen cases of asylum seekers being tortured after being deported from Britain.

“Reports of Dayan’s comments such as, ‘Sri Lanka has become the safest place on the earth after the LTTE was wiped out from the country’ sound totally unbelievable and sound like a script prepared by the CID for its own propaganda purposes.

“We are calling on the Australian government officials to publicly report what they witnessed at Dayan’s questioning and to explain why they were not present for the entire interrogation.

“Anthony’s family is now terrified for his safety. If Australia and Sri Lanka weren’t allies, the Australian government would have loudly condemned the charade of a press conference.

“The family has good reason to be afraid. In a recent case, a Tamil refugee was deported from Britain, interrogated at the airport then released, only to be re-arrested later and tortured.

Bolton added that there were many problems with what happened to Anthony. Anthony’s sister in Melbourne wasn’t allowed to visit him before he was deported.

When his sister realized that he was being deported, the immigration department refused to reveal what flight he would be on so that he could be met by a lawyer as well as his family.

The Australian government ignored a request from the United Nations to stop the deportation while Dayan Anthony’s case is investigated by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Then, when the plane landed in Colombo, the Australian officials handed Dayan Anthony over to the Sri Lankan police rather than to his family.

Bolton said that the Refugee Action Collective is calling on the Australian government to:

  • intervene and seek a guarantee from the Sri Lankan government that Anthony Dayan and his family not be harmed in any way.
  • Seek the return of Anthony Dayan to Australia where his application for asylum can be reviewed.
  • Halt all forced deportations to Sri Lanka

Bolton also said that there are problems with the asylum assessment process in Australia, if someone such as Dayan Anthony, whose life was clearly in danger in Sri Lanka, could have his asylum claim rejected.

“The treatment of Anthony since arriving in Sri Lanka demonstrates that the immigration department in Australia made a huge mistake in rejecting his claim for asylum. Tragically, rejections of asylum claims can result in a returned asylum seeker being tortured or killed.,” she said.

“The Refugee Action Collective and other refugee groups are stepping up the campaign to stop further deportation and are seeking union and community support.

Media Release: Deported Tamil asylum seeker disappears

Distraught family members of the Tamil asylum seeker known as “Mr X” who was deported to Sri Lanka on July 25 have not been able to locate their relative.

More than 14 hours after landing at Colombo airport, the Tamil man had not come out of the airport.

There are reports in the Sri Lankan media that the man has been detained by the Sri Lankan intelligence unit.

While Mr X’s family was waiting for him to emerge from the airport, the Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka arrived at the airport and sought the man’s release. Even the High Commissioner was unsuccessful.

Mr X’s claim for asylum had been rejected despite credible information that the man would face serious danger if he was returned to Sri Lanka.

Refugee Action Collective spokesperson Sue Bolton called on the Australian government to intervene and seek Mr X’s immediate release and return to Australia.

Bolton called into question Australia’s asylum assessment process which could reject the asylum claim of a person who was clearly faced danger in Sri Lanka.

“Refugee activists tried to prevent the deportation of Mr X.

“Mr X’s family, Tamil community members and refugee advocates warned that Mr X’s life was in danger if he was deported to Sri Lanka. How could someone like this have their claim for asylum rejected?”

There are many documented cases of Tamil asylum seekers being deported to Sri Lanka and then being arrested and interrogated.

“Immigration Minister Chris Bowen must intervene to have Mr X released and returned to Australia. The government was clearly in error when it rejected Mr X’s asylum bid.”

Media Release: Tamil asylum seeker forcibly deported

Mr X, a Tamil asylum seeker has been deported back to Sri Lanka. He is the first Tamil to be forcibly deported from Sri Lanka. His family fears for his life.

He was moved to Maribyrnong Detention Centre on Sunday in preparation for deportation and according to sources, was put on a Thai airways flight at around 2.30 yesterday (Wednesday) from Tullamarine. This action was taken by the Department of Immigration despite a last ditch effort to get a court injunction on Mr. X’s removal and despite evidence that Tamil’s continue to face persecution and torture Sri Lanka.

“Immigration Minister Chris Bowen is aware of the high court case judgement expected soon, that has the potential to give further appeal rights to asylum seekers facing deportation. He should not be attempting to subvert this process,” said spokesperson for the Refugee Action Collective (Victoria), Benjamin Solah

The Tamil asylum seeker Hari, deported to Sri Lanka by the UK government, says he was beaten with electrical wire and suspended upside down by chains on return. His 17 days of torture were revealed by The Guardian one month after Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen met with Sri Lankan President Mahindra Rajapksa. The minister has also recently held negotiations with the Rajapksa government on asylum seekers.

“Sri Lanka faces credible accusations of war crimes, and conditions for Tamils have not improved. Amnesty International says 32 activists disappeared between Oct 2011 and May 2102.”

The Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) condemns the deportation in the strongest terms and demands Mr Bowen puts a freeze on any further deportations.

“The Howard years saw 9 people killed after they were deported to Afghanistan, according to the Edmund Rice Centre. Is this what Chris Bowen wants to return to? The minister should bring Mr X back to Australia, and stop any further deportations to danger that risk asylum seekers lives,” said Benjamin Solah.

Aran Mylvaganam, from the Tamil Refugee Council said, “We are outraged by the forcible deportation of this Tamil refugee by the Australian Government. It is very disappointing that despite pleas from the Tamil community and human rights organisations to halt the deportation, Australia has still deported this Tamil man.”

“There is evidence that forcibly deported Tamil asylum seekers are facing torture in Sri Lanka. In some cases, Tamils have been killed,” Mr Mylvaganam said.

*Mr X’s name has been withheld for fears of his safety and his family upon return to Sri Lanka.