Allegation: ‘Tortured’ Tamil put on a plane back to Sri Lanka

Amanda Hodge and Stuart Rintoul, in The Australian, 26 July 2012 … with “Allegation” being a web editor addition

A TAMIL asylum-seeker accused of links with the vanquished Tamil Tigers has been deported, despite being the subject of an appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and a pending High Court judgment that could have had an impact on his appeal rights.

 Pic from Australian online with note: “The Refugee Action Coalition’s Ian Rintoul said lawyers had too little time to get an injunction preventing the deportation. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen Source: The Daily Telegraph.”

Dayan Anthony was taken from the Maribyrnong Detention Centre in Melbourne yesterday and put on a flight to Bangkok at 2.35pm, while refugee advocates scrambled unsuccessfully to get an urgent court hearing.

His distraught Melbourne-based brother-in-law told The Australian he desperately feared for Mr Anthony’s safety after he is handed over to Sri Lankan authorities in Colombo as early as this morning. Mr Anthony, 30, is believed to be the subject of a February 2011 arrest warrant for alleged “involvement in LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) activities”. A copy of the arrest warrant and the Immigration Department’s letter of deportation was published on a Tamil news website, sighted by The Australian, a few days ago.

It also published details of his arrest by the Sri Lankan army in May 2009 at Mullivaikkal in the country’s north — the scene of the last, bloody battle between the rebels and army. The warrant was issued in Mr Anthony’s absence by the Colombo Police Criminal Investigation Department.

His brother-in-law told The Australian yesterday neither Mr Anthony nor his family knew what the charges were, but that he had been picked up in 2009 from the southern village of Negombo — from where he ran a small textiles business — in one of Sri Lanka’s notorious white vans, then tortured and badly beaten.

Tamil news website Varudal, however, reported Mr Anthony was a purchasing officer for an LTTE-owned textiles business and was arrested in Mullivaikkal, where many civilians were caught and killed in crossfire. It is Mr Anthony’s evidence on the use of torture in Sri Lanka before a special UN committee last year for which he could face serious repercussions.

“I am really worried that they’re going to take him and give him to the same people that hurt him the first time,” his brother-in-law said yesterday. “All our family (in Sri Lanka) are scared to go and check (what the charges are) but we know it’s under the terrorism act. They’re worried they will be targeted.”

Mr Anthony arrived by air in Australia in early 2010 and immediately sought asylum. Eight months later he was released into his sister and brother-in-law’s custody. His family say he has intermittently received medical attention for serious physical injuries and mental health issues. “After he was tortured he was no longer a fit person. So when he said the government was going to send him back I said ‘don’t talk rubbish’. I didn’t believe him,” the brother-in-law said as he choked back sobs yesterday.

While a full report on Mr Anthony’s mental condition was given to the Immigration Department, his family now believes the Australian government was determined to make an example of him to deter asylum-seekers. The family and refugee advocates have accused the government of stymieing last-ditch attempts to prevent Mr Anthony’s deportation.

The Tamil man had been trying since Monday to fax documents and authorisation to a Sydney barrister in order to join a High Court class action against the government that would have stayed his deportation. But his family says he was unable to send them because he was told the Maribyrnong Detention Centre fax was broken.

“We are bitterly disappointed the government has taken this measure,” Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said. “It has really been an underhand action by the government. They know that there is a High Court action that would have potentially prevented this removal and they have done everything they can to make it impossible for this removal to be challenged in court.” He said Immigration Minister Chris Bowen “well knows that other Sri Lankans who have been forcibly sent back to Sri Lanka have been arrested, tortured and imprisoned”.

Web Editor’s comments in note form:

A. Initial questions developed as to how a man said to be from Negombo was thus caught up and detained in May 2009 if this story is to be believed.

B. But then this news item delivers an interesting detail: Dayan Anthony was even arrested because he was deemed to be running an LTTE front shop in Negombo.

C. Given B, a question follows: how did he get away? Did he use forged papers and passports to travel to Australia in early 2010 and destroy these at the point of disembarkation so as to claim asylum? Is he therefore another instance of the sort represented by Arunachalam Jegapheeswaran alias Jegan Waran?

D. If the surmise C is valid is the Australian government policy of maintaining secrecy on vital details not counter-productive to its image? And a hindrance to investigators who wish to go beyond the presentations of interested parties whether kinfolk or HR and victim groups who seem to believe every which story because it maximises their role?

F. The pictorial presentation of Ian Rintoul framed between twisted tree-trunks gives the impression of human legs hanging from some frame. This adaptation is an innovative metaphorical representation. Pro-government personnel may conceivably deem it a form of twisted journalistic license intended to depict TORTURE and thus unbecoming of advocates devoted to ethics. That is for readers to judge.

G. Is Ian Rintoul of the organisation Refugee Action Coalition related to Stuart Rintoul, the reporter?

H. In a report presented in The Island Anthony’s sister claims that (a) he is “originally from the northern city of Jaffna”: (b) that he is mentally ill. Claim a picks up the impression garnered by the Australian reporters. The sister also told the island media (or someone) that Anthony would be killed when he returned to Lanka. This may well be accepted by die hard Tamil nationalists and by gullible Australians but the fact is that a large body of tamils. plus some sinhalese have been deported from UK  in the course of 2011-12 and the High Commissioner of Britain ihas been reported to have said that they had cometo no harm in Lanka.


Filed under accountability, asylum-seekers, australian media, historical interpretation, life stories, LTTE, people smugglers, politIcal discourse, power politics, propaganda, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, tamil refugees, Tamil Tiger fighters, trauma, truth as casualty of war, world events & processes

14 responses to “Allegation: ‘Tortured’ Tamil put on a plane back to Sri Lanka

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  12. I could not resist commenting. Perfectly written!|

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