Tue, Jul 17, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Australia to deport Tamil asylum seeker

PERSECUTION:The man could be permanently separated from his wife and child, who have been granted safe haven visas; neither can his wife visit him in Sri Lanka

The Guardian

A 30-year-old Tamil asylum seeker faces permanent separation from his wife and 10-month-old Australian-born daughter, after being issued with a deportation notice more than six years after arriving in Australia.

Thileepan —like many Tamils he only uses one name — has been in Australia since arriving by boat in June 2012. He lived in the community for most of his time in Australia, marrying in 2016. He was taken into immigration detention earlier this year, after his claim for protection was rejected.

He was issued a removal notice on Friday, sparking a protest yesterday outside the gates of Villawood detention center, where he is being held.

His wife, who arrived separately in September 2012, and 10-month-old Australian-born daughter are among the demonstrators gathered at the gates of Villawood.

Thileepan’s wife and daughter were both granted safe haven enterprise visas on Wednesday last week, two days before he was issued with the removal notice.

Their separation will likely be permanent. A safe haven enterprise visa — known as a SHEV — does not allow for family reunion, so Thileepan’s wife cannot sponsor him to return to Australia.

Moreover, because of her “well-founded fear of persecution” — recognized by the Australian government — she cannot return to Sri Lanka.

Thileepan was told he would be removed yesterday. Guardian Australia understands he has been removed from the detention center.

Thileepan’s father and brother were killed during Sri Lanka’s brutal 26-year civil war, which ended in 2009 when the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were crushed by a final offensive by government of Sri Lanka troops.

However, according to the UN, up to 40,000 civilians were also killed in the final bloody months of fighting, with no-fire zones and hospitals deliberately shelled.

Another of Thileepan’s brothers is still missing, one of thousands never found after the war.

Thileepan told Australian authorities that during the Sri Lankan conflict he was kidnapped from his home by Sri Lankan security forces, blindfolded, beaten and tortured about his knowledge of LTTE activities.

He was later dumped, still blindfolded, on the side of the road where he was found.

In July last year, UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson visited Sri Lanka and reported that “the use of torture has been, and remains today, endemic and routine, for those arrested and detained on national security grounds.”

“Entire communities have been stigmatized and targeted for harassment and arbitrary arrest and detention, and any person suspected of association, however indirect, with the LTTE remains at immediate risk of detention and torture,” Emmerson wrote.

However, Thileepan’s claim for protection was rejected by the Australian government, which said his circumstance did not raise Australia’s protection obligations.

There are no “character” or criminal matters associated with Thileepan’s case.

The issue of family separations has become a focal point of immigration debates worldwide. In the US, the administration of US President Donald Trump faced massive public backlash after separating children from their parents at the Mexican border.

Australia routinely separates families within its immigration regime. At least half a dozen fathers on Nauru have never met their children, after their pregnant partners were taken to Australia to give birth. Husbands and wives, as well as siblings and parents, are separated by Australia’s offshore processing system.

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