I'm a staffer at RISE: Refugees, Survivors & Ex-Detainees - the only refugee/asylum seeker support and advocacy group in Australia that is governed and run by members of the refugee and asylum seeker communities.
On Tuesday 17 July, Mr X (his identity cannot be revealed for fear of reprisals against him and/or his family by the Sri Lankan government), was taken out of the community in Melbourne where he was staying with his sister and brother-in-law and detained at Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre in the suburbs of Melbourne.
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship did this to make it easier to forcibly deport Mr X back into the hands of those from whose persecution he first fled. His back is broken from beatings he received whilst detained by Sri Lankan security forces; he continues to receive medical treatment in relation to post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychologists specialising in the treatment of torture survivors have expressed their concern for the life of this man, through at least four separate reports sent to the Minister for Immigration - to no avail.
Mr X is currently locked up in detention and will be drugged and forced onto a plane to Sri Lanka unless the Minister reverses his decision.
This is the beginning of a new, ugly phase, when refugees and asylum seekers fleeing persecution will once again be forcibly deported to Sri Lanka, knowingly sent back to torture and possible death. This is a reality for Mr X, who the Sri Lankan government has targeted with an arrest warrant.
Other members of this man’s family have received refugee status in other industrialist countries. In Australia, however, the Australian Labour Party federal government has consistently minimised the war crimes, ethnic cleansing, torture and other crimes of its allies in the Sri Lankan state. Just as in the 1980s the ALP federal government systematically minimised the crimes of its allies in the Indonesian dictatorship, while supplying and training the Indonesian death squads who slaughtered thousands of East Timorese.
The Minister for Immigration has refused to intervene to give Mr X any form of protection. When the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture asked the Minister difficult questions about his case, and asked that this man not be deported, the ALP federal government didn’t even bother to respond.
The UK recently overturned a decision to deport Tamils back to Sri Lanka based on evidence that returnees are being tortured upon their arrival to Sri Lanka (see: http://www.freedomfromtorture.org/feature/out_of_the_silence/5979 and http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/05/29/uk-suspend-deportations-tamils-sri-lanka)
We hope you can help us spread the story of this man to put pressure on the Australian government to halt his deportation and return him to his family here in Melbourne.