A Sri Lankan mother whose Tamil family have been accused of wasting $10million in taxpayer money by fighting deportation from Australia has reportedly been dragged from hospital by Border Force guards, Daily Mail reported.
Priya Murugappan – who is being detained on Christmas Island with her husband Nades and her two young daughters at an estimated cost of $20,000 a day – was flown to Perth’s Fiona Stanley Hospital 10 days ago with severe abdominal pain.
Refugee advocates claim the mother had been told she would be returned to the detention centre on Friday after being monitored for two additional days in a hotel.
But Tamil Refugee Council spokesman Aran Mylvaganam said the mother-of-two was forcibly removed from the hospital on Wednesday by as many as 15 Border Force personnel.
He said she had to be taken to the mainland for a CT scan which doctors could not carry out on Christmas Island.
‘I spoke to Priya when she was dragged away by at least 10 guards and the Border Force told Priya that she was being taken to the airport,’ Mr Mylvaganam told 9News.
‘It’s hard to see why up to 15 guards were required today. Priya would not have resisted being returned to Christmas Island, she is an unwell woman who was desperately missing her little girls.
Mylvaganam also claimed the mother was denied access to her own discharge summary by the ABF guards.
‘Lawyers acting on behalf of Priya and her family had no indication that this sudden removal was taking place,’ he said.
The family’s representatives said Ms Murugappan had since been put on a charter flight back to the island following the dramatic intervention about 11am on Wednesday.
A Department of Home Affairs spokesman has confirmed the mother was discharged from the hospital but said it did not comment on individual cases.
The family have been on Christmas Island since August after first being taken into detention in 2018.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton wants them to go back to Sri Lanka – where they fear persecution – and has said the parents are being ‘unfair on their children’ for fighting deportation.
In an interview with Daily Mail Australia this week, the family’s lawyer, Carina Ford, said it was actually Mr Dutton who was costing the taxpayer by refusing to let the family come back to the mainland while their case is pending.
‘The same argument applies that he’s being unfair by detaining them, it’s as simple as that,’ she said.
‘I feel that trying to flip it around and blame the parents like that hasn’t worked for Minister Dutton.
‘I think people can see that it doesn’t make sense for the person detaining the children to blame the parents.’
She added: ‘We are using taxpayer dollars to detain them but they could be in the community while their case is pending, actually contributing, because Nades used to work in the local meatworks, and costing the taxpayer no money.
‘Can you justify spending this amount of money on keeping a detention centre open that no-one else is using? I don’t think you can. Maybe that’s something the government can re-consider.’
Priya and Nades came to Australia by boat separately in 2012 and 2013, alleging they were escaping the Sri Lankan civil war.
They met in Sydney before getting married and settling in Biloela, Queensland where they had two children, Kopika, four, and Tharunicaa, two.
The family rented a small house, paid for with money Nades earned by working at an abattoir.
While her husband put food on the table, Priya looked after the children and attended Biloela Baptist Church craft group where she made dozens of friends.
But they were kicked out in March 2018 when their home was raided by police at 5am, the day after Priya’s bridging visa expired.
Locals started a petition for the family to be allowed to stay and it has been signed by 350,000 people across the country.
The United Nations has also requested the family be let off Christmas Island but the government has ignored those calls.
Minister Dutton does not believe the family are legitimate refugees and wants to deport them – but the courts have ruled they cannot be sent home until their legal proceedings are over.
A Federal Court judge in April ruled their deportation must remain on hold after determining the youngest daughter had been denied procedural fairness in her bid to apply for a protection visa.
The government was also ordered to pay the family more than $200,000 in legal fees.
The family now faces a long wait for their next hearing, which could be late this year or early next year.
Meanwhile, Priya, who has underlying health conditions, was last Saturday airlifted to hospital in Perth with severe abdominal pain and is still receiving treatment there.
Speaking on Sydney radio 2GB last week, Mr Dutton said the family should stop fighting deportation.
‘This case has gone on since 2012 I think, and it must have cost now… probably over $10 million,’ he said.
‘That’s money that should be going into… communities and helping Australian citizens.
‘They are not refugees and they have used every trick in the book to make sure they can stay.
‘This is a situation of their own making, it is ridiculous, it’s unfair on their children, and it sends a very bad message to other people who think that they can rort the system as well.’
Ms Ford said if Mr Dutton wanted to save taxpayer money he could grant a protection visa and allow the family to stay in Australia.
‘That’s always been our position in this case. It’s open to the minister to not have this go on and spend more money on it. The choice is his.’
Ms Ford says she believes there is a ‘good prospect’ of her winning the case, which centres on two-year-old Tharunicaa, whose visa claim was never assessed.
She will also be arguing that Nades should have his application re-assessed because new evidence has emerged proving he will be in danger if he is sent home.
Nades has claimed he will be persecuted in Sri Lanka because he was forced to join the militant group Tamil Tigers in 2001 and was harassed by the Sri Lankan military.
The Immigration Assessment Authority rejected the claims on the basis he frequently travelled between Sri Lanka, Kuwait and Qatar for work between 2004 and 2010 during the civil war, something that a Tamil Tigers member would not be allowed to do.
Priya has claimed she watched her former fiance get burned alive and was raped during the Sri Lankan civil war which lasted from 1983 to 2009.