Priya, her husband Nadesalingam and their Australian-born children Kopika, 4, and Tharunicaa, 2, were being flown back to Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Thursday
The children of the Tamil asylum seeker family who were transported to Christmas Island after being given reprieve against deportation from Australia are ‘constantly crying’.
Priya, her husband Nadesalingam and their Australian-born children Kopika, 4, and Tharunicaa, 2, were being flown back to Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Thursday.
However, in the final hours of the night Judge Heather Riley granted an injunction to block the move while their plane was in the air.
The family’s flight landed in Darwin just before 3am on Friday and the family were kept at a nearby military base.
Supporters said they lost contact with the family on Friday night, and learned just after 2am that they had arrived at a detention centre on Christmas Island, northwest of Australia.
Lawyers for the family argued Priya and Nades’ two-year-old daughter Tharunicaa had never had her claim for a visa assessed.
The children of the Tamil asylum seeker family who were transported to Christmas Island after being given reprieve against deportation from Australia are ‘constantly crying’
One of the young children from the Tamil family high fives a security staff member before they are removed from a secure apartment section at the Mercure Hotel in Darwin on Friday
Priya with her right wrist in a bandage inside a Darwin hotel on Friday. She claims the injury was a result of guards manhandling her onto a plane
According to The Age, Tamil Refugee Council spokesman Aran Mylvaganam said Priya was being treated for wounds she received when she was forcibly put on the flight back to Sri Lanka.
‘It’s been a very difficult 36 hours, not just for the family but for the supporters in the community as well,’ he said.
‘The children are constantly crying. Kopika is feeling very lonely, and they are the only refugees on Christmas Island at the moment.’
The family’s solicitor Carina Ford said she had been notified of the move in a notice received from the immigration department during the night.
Moving detainees without warning isn’t unusual, but ‘the transfer to Christmas Island is not normal’, Ms Ford said.
‘It definitely makes our job harder and it’s disappointing,’ Ms Ford said, describing new logistical issues as ‘frustrating’.
A cut on Priya’s foot that was allegedly caused by guards manhandling her onto a plane on Friday
Supporters said they lost contact with the family on Friday night, and learned just after 2am that they had arrived at a detention centre on Christmas Island, northwest of Australia (stock image)
She is now waiting to hear back from lawyers for Immigration Minister David Coleman about how the family’s legal team will be able to have access to their clients, including to get documents signed.
They had arranged lawyers in Darwin to assist with that over the weekend.
Following the Tamil family’s departure from Darwin, mother Priya was able to make contact with family and friends when they arrived at Christmas Island.
‘My children have been separated from their world,’ she said.
Family friend Rebekah Holt said the relocation only took the family away from their strong support base.
‘This is the second flight in as many days under the cover of darkness, taking this family even further away from the support of the community that loves them.’
The Department of Home Affairs wouldn’t comment on the family’s relocation on Saturday, noting it would be inappropriate as the matter is before the courts.
A spokeswoman said the family had been ‘comprehensively assessed’ by the department and merits review bodies, and they had been consistently found to not be owed protection.
Though an application for a protection visa has been made on behalf of the family’s daughter Tharunicaa and has not been assessed by Immigration Minister David Coleman.
The family’s legal team say the rest of her family could be legally deported, but their lawyer Carina Ford said Australia would be condemned if the family was split up.
Government minister Zed Seselja told ABC the assessment process is ‘pretty fair’ but added he understood individual cases ‘can be very difficult’.
Lawyers for the family argued Priya and Nades’ two-year-old daughter Tharunicaa had never had her claim for a visa assessed
But Labor senator Katy Gallagher called the transfer cruel and called for compassion.
‘The minister has the capacity to intervene in special circumstances. I think there is no doubt this family qualify for that,’ she said.
Despite mounting community pressure, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is refusing to budge.
‘I would like the family to accept that they are not refugees, they’re not owed protection by our country,’ he told the Nine Network on Friday.
Mr Dutton said the deportation had been years in the making and should surprise no-one, least of all the couple, who had been warned prior to having children that they would not be allowed to stay.
Meanwhile, Alan Jones slammed the government on 2GB radio and insisted the family were ‘hardworking people’ who contributed to their community.
‘I think this is a shameful chapter by the Morrison government that plainly doesn’t care,’ Mr Jones said live on air.
‘I don’t care what these people might or mightn’t have done. They’ve killed no one, they’ve bludged off no one, they’ve offended no one. And they’re treated in this way in my country, your country.
‘The monsters here are the government.’
What happened to the Queensland Tamil family?
2012 and 2013: Nades and Priya arrived in Australia separately by boat fleeing violence from Sri Lanka’s civil war.
2014: The family moved to Biloela in Queensland, where they lived and worked for four years on a temporary bridging visa.
March 2018: The temporary bridging visa ran out and they were taken to a Melbourne detention centre after a pre-dawn raid of their home.
May 2018: High Court denied their final big to stay in Australia.
August 2019: The family found out their efforts to stay in the country were rejected with supporters calling on federal immigration minister to reconsider.
August 29, 2019: The family boarded a flight back to Sri Lanka, but it was intercepted last minute after Judge Heather Riley granted an injunction to block the move.
August 30, 2019: They had a hearing in Melbourne’s Federal Circuit Court at 10am. The injunction was extended and the family cannot be removed from Australia until at least 4pm Wednesday.
The family was quietly transported on another flight to Christmas Island. Supporters said they lost contact with the family on Friday night, and learned just after 2am that they had arrived at a detention centre.