This morning the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre got word from 14 Sri Lankan Tamils that the Australian government was due to forcibly deport them from Christmas Island back to Sri Lanka, without giving them the opportunity to apply for asylum.
The ASRC, through an immediate campaign, managed to stop the 14 who had managed to get to a phone or a computer and ask for legal assistance in making an immediate claim for protection. Others, however, who didn’t manage to make contact with legal assistance in time, were taken by force this afternoon and put onto a plane from Christmas Island to Colombo. If you’re reading this early, you can track the flight here:
These people are being forcibly sent back to Sri Lanka where there are approximately 330 people locked up in Negombo prison after being returned from Australia, including 30 people imprisoned last week from the 100+ who were deported. The ASRC have spoken to sources within the prison who have confirmed that this is so.
Some people are being released on “human bail”. This requires a member of the family to go to Colombo and sign documents agreeing to pay money and post themselves for imprisonment if the person released on bail, disappears or tries to leave the country. It is now a crime for people on lists to leave Sri Lanka even if they have a valid passport and paid airline ticket.
This awful brutal game of chance is inhumane. Asylum Seekers in Australia should not have their right to apply for asylum left to the chance that they can seek legal representation before they are forcibly deported.
This is not justice.
We do not yet know who were the unlucky ones sent back today.