A court in Melbourne has rejected the asylum appeal of a Tamil family of four, including two young children, ruling that they will be deported to Sri Lanka in 2019.
Justice John Middleton dismissed the family’s appeal on Friday, but said he would delay their deportation “having regard to the time of year”.
More than 147,000 Australians have signed a petition calling on Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to halt the deportation, stating that “the life awaiting this family in Sri Lanka is uncertain”.
“In a country that represses Tamil people, and where child brides and child sex trafficking exist, the future of Priya, Nades and their two beautiful daughters is grim,” the petition reads.
Priya, Nades and their their Australian-born daughters, Kopika and Tharunicaa, were taken into detention by Australian authorities in a dawn raid earlier this year. Their case has attracted attention and support from all over the country.
Aran Mylvaganam, a spokesman for the Tamil Refugee Council, criticised authorities for holding the family at the Melbourne immigration transit accommodation centre in Broadmeadows, rather than in community detention.
“These two girls are going to spend their Christmas in detention,” he said. “I speak to the family quite regularly and the father is quite worried in particular about his oldest daughter, who is showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and she is isolated, lonely and missing her friends.”
"Mr Dutton had the power to end this family's ordeal on day one and he still has that power now," said Biloela resident and family friend Angela Fredericks, stating the ordeal was "pure psychological torture".
“Each time they're getting more and more exhausted. It's just the psychological drain of not knowing and the constant fear (of returning to Sri Lanka).”
"Please, Mr Dutton: listen to the 140,000 Australians that are standing with these two little Queenslanders and their loving mum and dad. Bring them home to Biloela."