Murugappan family asylum claims .… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murugappan_family_asylum_claims
Kokilapathmapriya Nadesalingam (Priya) and Nadesalingam Murugappan (Nades) are two Sri Lankan Tamils seeking asylum in Australia. The couple married in Australia and have two Australian-born children. Until their detention by Australian Border Force in March 2018, the family was resident in the central Queensland town of Biloela, and consequently referred to as the Biloela family by some media. The cause of the couple and their children has been supported by some residents of Biloela as well as asylum-seeker advocates.
Priya and Nades were both living in Sri Lanka during the Sri Lankan Civil War which started in 1983 and formally ended in 2009 with the Sri Lankan Army defeating the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Nades claimed to have been forced to join the LTTE in 2001 and as a result, claimed to be harassed by Sri Lankan government authorities. The Australian government claims that Nades was able to freely travel to Kuwait and Qatar with a Sri Lankan government issued passport from Sri Lanka on at least three separate occasions on temporary work visas to travel to Qatar and Kuwait for work between 2004 and 2010, and therefore was not of concern to Sri Lankan authorities.
Damien Kingsbury, an academic specialising in international politics, stated even though the civil war had ended Sri Lanka was still dangerous for some minorities, stating “The environment is changing and it’s never been particularly favourable to Tamils but it looks like it’s changing back to a more draconian environment”. Another immigration lawyer, Simon Jeans, claimed that the family had not been truthful in visa applications and said evidence suggested they came to Australia as economic refugees.
Nades arrived at Christmas Island on a people smuggler boat in 2012. Priya left Sri Lanka in 2001 and went to Tamil Nadu, India, claiming she was being targeted due to her brother’s supposed links to the LTTE. She arrived at Cocos Islands on another people smuggler boat in 2013 from Tamil Nadu, India, a safe haven for Tamil people fleeing Sri Lanka during the civil war that was unaffected by the civil war. Both arrived under the classification of the ‘legacy caseload’ having arrived by boat between 2012 and 2014. Legacy caseload arrivals have been classified as Irregular Maritime Arrivals and Illegal Maritime Arrivals. The Immigration Assessment Authority affirmed the ministerial delegate’s decisions regarding the asylum claims, noting that Priya had been able to travel lawfully without issue from Sri Lanka to Tamil Nadu, India in 2001.
The Immigration Assessment Authority stated that years had passed since the civil war and “the risk profile of persons of adverse interest had changed”. The Sri Lankan government was now inquiring after a different category of persons in the post-war and reconciliation period, described as “those with a significant role in post-conflict Tamil separatism”. It was stated that the applicant Priya did not fall within this category of persons.
Both were granted temporary bridging visas. The couple first met in Australia and married in 2014. They subsequently had two children, born in Australia in May 2015 and June 2017. They settled in Biloela where Nades worked in the local abattoir. He was also a volunteer with the local Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.
The family was taken into custody by Australian Border Force personnel from their home in Biloela in March 2018 and taken to the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation facility in Broadmeadows, a suburb of Melbourne. While in detention in Melbourne, supporters of the family claimed that the couple and their children had been ill-treated and denied basic nutrition and health care. The claim was refuted by the relevant department at the time, stating that the family was offered medical treatment several times and had declined it, and that at no point was the family denied medical care.
In June 2018, the Federal Court of Australia found that Priya was not eligible to stay in Australia, while Nades’ rights of appeal were already extinguished. In the judgment, the judge noted that the civil war had ended in 2009, Nades had returned to Sri Lanka on three occasions during the civil war and found that there was “no evidence to suggest [Nades’] family still living in Sri Lanka was at risk from authorities“. Priya lodged an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. This appeal was dismissed in December 2018, however the government was restrained from deporting the family until February 2019. A further application by the couple to seek special leave to High Court of Australia to hear an appeal of the Federal Court decision was refused in May 2019. Including the negative finding by the High Court, the family had their asylum appeals to stay reviewed and rejected seven times through seven separate court and tribunal sessions.
An attempt to deport the couple, and their Australian-born children, on 29 August 2019 was prevented by an injunction lodged by the solicitors while the plane taking the family to Sri Lanka was in mid-air. This injunction was granted as the younger child had not yet been assessed for a protection visa. The injunction forced the plane to land in Darwin. The family were then taken to Christmas Island Immigration Reception and Processing Centre.
On 19 September 2019, the Federal Court ruled that the younger daughter (and hence the family) should remain in Australia until the case goes to a final hearing at a date to be determined. On 17 April 2020, the Federal Court ruled that Immigration Minister David Coleman had taken a procedural step to consider using ministerial powers to allow the younger daughter to apply for a visa, which now needs to be finalised. On 27 April 2020, the Federal Government was ordered to pay A$206,000 in legal fees for her, as she had “not [been] afforded procedural fairness”.
Over the weekend of 18–19 July 2020, Priya was flown from Christmas Island to Perth for medical treatment for severe abdominal pain and vomiting. She was flown back to Christmas Island on 29 July on a chartered flight.
On 8 June 2021, the younger daughter was flown to Perth Children’s Hospital with a suspected blood infection. In the days that followed, it was determined that she had pneumonia and septicaemia. In the same month, the government decided to allow the family to live in community detention in Perth, rather than on Christmas Island.
Priya and Nades’ wish to stay in Australia has been supported by some members of the Biloela community as well as refugee and asylum seeker advocates.
Anthony Albanese, leader of the opposition Australian Labor Party has supported granting permanent residency to the family stating “These people should be settled here in Australia. It won’t undermine the government’s migration policies. It will simply say that this is a government that is prepared to listen to what the community are saying and saying so strongly”. Former National Party leader Barnaby Joyce also spoke in support noting that the Biloela community “seem to be pretty enthused about keeping this family there … I think we should also be listening to them.”
The Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton stated that the family’s case was “completely without merit in terms of their claim to be refugees” and “I would like the family to accept that they are not refugees, they’re not owed protection by our country”. Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused calls to intervene, stating “they didn’t come to the country in the appropriate way. They have not been found to have an asylum claim” and “to exercise intervention powers on this would be to send exactly the wrong message to those who are looking to sell tickets to vulnerable people looking to get on boats …” Morrison stated that the family remain eligible to lodge an application to migrate to Australia; “they can make an application to come to Australia under the same processes as everyone else, anywhere else in the world. And I would hope they do.”
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