Family Saved From Deportation At The Last Minute
A Tamil asylum seeker family, who lived in the Queensland town of Biloela for four years, have been granted an eleventh-hour injunction against their deportation.
A plane carrying Priya, her husband Nadesalingam, and their two Australian-born daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa will reportedly land in Darwin after an injuction was granted to stop their deportation.
Priya was separated from her husband Nadesalingam and their two daughters at about 7.30pm on Thursday, family friend Angela Fredericks told AAP.
"My understanding is they got served papers this evening and then separated," Fredericks said.
It is understood the family was taken to the airport in separate vans and boarded a privately charted plane, owned by the company Skytraders.
"Melbourne supporters, please go to Melbourne Airport and support this family with peaceful action now," the Home To Bilo supporters group posted on its social media pages.
A group of more than 70 supporters gathered outside the Skytrader hangar at Melbourne Airport, chanting "Let them stay" and "Say it loud, say it proud, refugees are welcome here."
Police arrived on the scene as the number of supporters continued to grow.
The plane took off from Melbourne Airport at about 10.55pm, despite an injunction reportedly being granted.
10 daily spoke to supporter Lucy Honan, who was at the airport when the plane took off.
"Friends of the family and the Home To Bilo campaign have said the plane will land in Darwin," she said.
Chris Breen, from the Refugee Action Collective, said the Coalition government can not ignore the "groundswell" of support the family have received.
"Even at this late hour it is not too late for the deportation to danger to be stopped," he said in a statement to 10 daily.
"Damage has already been done to the health of the family's two young girls by prolonged detention.
"Any further harm is at the hands of PM Scott Morrison and the Coalition government. The cruelty must end. Give this family sanctuary."
Priya and Nadesalingam came to Australia separately by boat in 2012 and 2013 following Sri Lanka's civil war.
The family has been held in a Melbourne detention centre since March 2018, after being taken from their home in Biloela, in Queensland, during a pre-dawn raid.
They lived in Biloela for four years on a temporary bridging visa before it ran out in March 2018. The High Court denied their final bid to stay in May 2018.
Last week the family found out their efforts to stay in the country had been rejected, with supporters calling on the federal immigration minister to reconsider.
Supporters have previously told AAP they fear the family would be in danger if sent back to Sri Lanka.
"The United Nations Special repertoire for torture made a plea to states not to send Tamil's back to Sri Lanka in the last year," Refugee Action Collective spokesperson Lucy Honan said.
The family has received strong support from Australians with more than 200,000 people signing an online petition to prevent them being sent back.
The Department of Immigration has previously stated the family's case has been assessed over many years.