Australian Govt pressured to release Sri Lankan refugee family

Wednesday, 09 June 2021 - 19:28

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

Nades Murugappan and his wife Priya 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 deported to Christmas Island, more than 1,500 kilometres west of the mainland in 2019 along with daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa, now aged five and three.

Campaigners stated that 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.

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.

Although their lawyers and the Tamil Diaspora in Australia have called for them to be granted refugee status in Australia, there has been no positive response so far.

According to the Australian media, the Minister of Home Affairs has the power to do so.

A massive campaign has also been launched on social media to release Kopika and Tharunicaa's family.