Tamil Family With Australian-Born Children Lose High Court Bid To Avoid Deportation
A mother could be sent back to a Sri Lankan village where her then-fiance and five other men were burned to death before her eyes.
The High Court on Tuesday refused the woman, 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.
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.
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.
They were taken into custody by Australian Border Force officials during a dawn raid last year and have spent the past 14 months in a Melbourne detention centre.
The family fear they could be deported at any moment, says the Tamil Refugee Council's Aran Mylvaganam, who described the court decision as "heartbreaking".
He called on the prime minister, immigration minister and home affairs minister to intervene for their safety.
"In the case of Priya, she fled Sri Lanka after witnessing her fiance and five other men from her village burned alive by the Sri Lankan army," he said.
"Someone with that memory would never, never feel safe to go back to that country."
He said Nadesalingam's life could be in danger if he was sent back to Sri Lanka due to links to the Tamil Tiger separatist organisation.
He said cases of people "disappearing" still happened in Sri Lanka.
"Torture is still being used against Tamils. Nades(alingam) is someone who has presented a credible case of being in danger if he goes back to Sri Lanka," he said.
"Since (he) fled Sri Lanka the intelligence services have made visits to his house and that's a clear indication his life will be in danger if he is sent back."
Family friend Angela Fredericks begged Immigration Minister David Coleman to "have a heart" and intervene in the case.
"He can step up, he can make all of this go away," she said.
"Please, have a conscience, have a heart and help this family."
"They know the military has still been knocking on Nadesalingam's family's door saying 'let us know when they're back' - they're waiting for them."
The minister's office has been contacted for comment.