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.