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Tamil asylum seeker diagnosed with cancer after nearly decade in Australian detention

Australians across the country have called for the release of a Tamil asylum seeker who has been diagnosed with leukaemia after being held in detention for almost a decade since he fled in Sri Lanka.

Sivaguru ‘Rajan’ Navanitharasa fled the island to Australia in the wake of a Sri Lankan military offensive that killed tens of thousands of Tamil civilians. The 45-year-old has now spent almost one-fifth of his life in Australian detention centres, being held first on Christmas Island and then in Villawood, said the Tamil Refugee Council.

Though he was granted refugee status in 2010, Navanitharasa was later given a negative security assessment by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). This was retracted six years later when it was acknowledged he posed no security risk. But by that time, Australian law had changed and he had to submit a new protection application. 

“The main reason the Department of Immigration has rejected his claim is that the situation in Sri Lanka has improved and therefore he is not in need of protection,” said Aran Mylvaganam from the Tamil Refugee Council.

“Obviously, the reports by human rights groups challenge the Australia Government’s findings. The Tamil Refugee Council genuinely believes that if Rajan is sent back to Sri Lanka his life will be in danger.”

See more from 9 News here and the Tamil Refugee Council here.