Tamil asylum seekers at Wickham Point detention centre are staging a 24 hour hunger strike protest today in response to increasing numbers of Tamils being screened out and returned to Sri Lanka.
A plane-load of 35 mostly Tamil asylum seekers was arrested last Friday on return to Sri Lanka and have been taken to Negombo prison, outside Colombo.
Urgent legal action is underway to prevent the deportation of more than 50 Tamils presently being held in the Northern Immigration Detention Centre (NIDC).
“We are urging the Minister to stop the deportation of asylum seekers to Sri Lanka. We have given the department a signed letter from 56 Tamil asylum seekers in NIDC specifically requesting protection,” said Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition.
“We shouldn’t have to go to court to make the government uphold its human rights obligations.”
Referring to the mostly Tamils removed on Friday, the Immigration Minister said, “The Sri Lankans were advised of their status and that they were subject to removal from Australia. They raised no issues that engaged Australia’s international obligations.”
But, evidence from asylum seekers and their families indicates that many of those returned in fact did make protection claims and expressed their fear very clearly to the DIAC officers about returning to Sri Lanka.
A few of them openly told interviewing officers that they would kill themselves rather than be returned to Sri Lanka to be killed. Now the government has delivered these asylum seekers into the hands of the Rajapaksa regime, notorious for its persecution of Tamils and its abuse of human rights.
“Screening out is a travesty of justice. We are calling on the Minister to stop any further deportations of screened out Sri Lankans and to end screening out, full stop. All asylum seekers should have access to independent legal advice,” said Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition.
“We also need an independent investigation into the government’s use of screening out procedures to deny protection to genuine asylum seekers.”
For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713
Category: Press releases