THE church-bombing crisis in Sri Lanka has prompted activists in the Central Queensland town of Biloela to step up their campaign for the return of a Tamil asylum-seeker family seized by Australian Border Force officials and placed in a Melbourne detention centre.
“In light of the horrific attacks and growing instability in Sri Lanka … it is now a matter of very urgent public interest that Priya, Nades and their two Australian-born children be granted the right to remain safely in Australia,” an online statement from the group Bring Them Home to Biloela said.
The asylum-seeker family was taken into custody a year ago by Australian Border Force officials during a dawn raid on their Biloela home, because the couple’s bridging visa had expired.
More than 180,000 people have signed an online petition demanding the family be returned to the Central Queensland town, where they had become much-loved members of the community.
Both Priya and Nades had settled in Biloela after separately arriving in Australia by boat in 2012 and 2013, following Sri Lanka’s civil war.
Nades had worked at the town’s meatworks.
Priya was known for making her homemade curries.
Supporters have previously said fears were held Nades would be persecuted if he returned to Sri Lanka, because of his history with the militant organisation the Tamil Tigers.
The family’s legal bid to fight their deportation order was all but exhausted last December when the Federal Court dismissed an appeal to stay in Australia.
However, the Department of Home Affairs agreed not to deport the family after their legal team made a special leave application to the High Court of Australia.
In an appeal to Immigration Minister David Coleman, the authors of the online petition claimed “the people of Biloela have consistently demonstrated their determination to bring Priya, Nades and the girls home to Biloela”.
“Mr Coleman, will you please use your public interest powers under the Migration Act to allow Priya, Nades, Kopika and Tharunicaa to remain safely in Australia?” the latest online petition statement said.