Plight of Sri Lankan Tamil family fuels concern over Australia asylum rules

Australia’s asylum-seeker policies have come under scrutiny after concerns were raised over the plight of a Sri Lankan family who have been detained on an isolated Australian island for almost two years.

The plight of a Sri Lankan Tamil couple and their two young daughters who’ve been detained on an isolated Australian island for almost two years is shining the spotlight on the government’s asylum-seeker policies and fueling demands for change, Bloomberg reported.

Priya and Nades Murugappan fled to Australia in 2012 and 2013 on separate journeys fearing persecution from Sri Lankan authorities. They settled in the rural town of Biloela during a protracted legal battle over their immigration status, but were transported to Christmas Island, more than 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) west of the mainland in 2019 along with daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa, now aged 5 and 3.

Campaigners say the younger girl’s health has suffered while in detention and earlier this week she was medically evacuated to the city of Perth with suspected pneumonia and a blood infection. That’s thrust their case back into the headlines, with fresh demands the government finds a solution.

The Australian Human Rights Commission “calls for an urgent and compassionate resolution, and for this family to be housed safely in the community,” it said in a Facebook post. “The island is more than 2,500 kilometers from Perth and has very limited acute healthcare facilities. The human rights of the family’s two young children, in particular, should be the first priority.”

Australia has taken a tough stance on asylum seekers traveling by boat since then-Prime Minister John Howard in 2001 refused to allow in a vessel carrying more than 400 mostly Afghan refugees.

The issue of migration has been used by parties on the left and right to drive support. Since 2013 the conservative government has maintained a policy of holding people who arrive by boat in Pacific island camps while their claims for asylum are assessed, and ensuring none will be settled in Australia.

The government says the policy has stopped the people-smuggling trade, where would-be asylum seekers crossed the ocean in rickety, overcrowded boats — with hundreds drowning.

Kristina Keneally, the home affairs spokeswoman for the main opposition Labor party, called on the government to end the long-running saga involving the Murugappan family and allow them to return to Biloela.

“These two little girls born in regional Queensland should not be living behind bars, ‘in jail’, as Kopika described it to me,” Keneally told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews on Tuesday indicated the government was willing to find a resolution.

“We are going through the process now of investigating a range of resettlement options in relation to a number of different circumstances here in Australia,” Andrews said. Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said on Tuesday that the government was looking at resettling the family in the U.S. or New Zealand. (Colombo Gazette)


  1. Australia is a racist nation through and through.
    Even as the young Tharunicaa 3 has gone down with a life threatening sickness, it has refused medical attention until it become acute.
    The Scumo govt has a hide to criticize China for human rights abuses.
    It is happening in the supposedly civilised and enlightened White Australia.
    Do not believe that the White Australian Mentality has been erased from the mindset of these controlling freaking b@#t%^ds as the removing of the policy is really for the public consumption of the world.
    It will always be a monument of the kind of racism of the White Supremacist Australia and will remain the shame of the nation in the annals of history.

  2. Australian farmers and refugees are not getting a fair deal.

    Currently, Australian farmers are devastated because they do not have enough farm workers due to the pandemic. Since the late 1990s, I have been asking governments to use refugees as workers in the agriculture sector until their cases have been finalised, instead of locking them up in detention centres at the expense of taxpayers’ hard-earned money. The political leaders have been recklessly wasting taxpayers’ money for a long time but nobody is accountable. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Save the Children, and GetUp published a report in 2019 titled ‘At What Cost?’ The report found that offshore detention and processing cost around $9 billion between 2016 and 2020. According to the Refugee Council of Australia, in March 2019 taxpayers are paying more than $573,000 per year to hold an asylum seeker in offshore detention, and more than $346,000 to hold an asylum seeker in detention in Australia. It costs more than $103,343 per year for an asylum seeker to live in community detention in Australia, and $10,221 for an asylum seeker to live in the community on a bridging visa while their claim is processed. According to Channel 7, Australia has spent $30 million to detain just one family on Christmas Island who is fighting deportation to Sri Lanka. Recently, the Guardian has revealed the Federal Government has spent $402,100 on legal fees for the family who have been fighting to stay in Australia.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here