Contributed from Queensland
Biloela is a typical small town in Queensland, whose residents have done something that deserves to be better known by the rest of Australia.
They have come together to defend an asylum seeker family, which has been living in the town.
The Tamil couple has escaped from Sri Lanka and now have two children born in Australia.
Australian Border Force members seized the family last Monday, and flew them to immigration detention in Melbourne, where they were allegedly coerced into signing documents supporting their “voluntary removal.”
Bilboela residents have responded by starting up a change.org petitiont as part of their effort to convince the Australian government to “return this family to Biloela, their home, where they are wanted and welcome.”
The United Nations has criticised Australia’s eagerness to deport Tamil refugees to Sri Lanka in the past, noting in October that, at least one such case faced “a serious risk of return to danger or persecution.”
Most Australians are tolerant and welcoming people, who believe that those who land on our shores because of desperation, should be treated humanely, and generally fast racked into settlement in Australia.
They do not like the way the government is treating these people in our name. Nor do they like the reputation the country is getting as an intolerant place, prepared to use what are really, remote concentration camps, in open violation of global standards of civilised behaviour and agreements that Australia is signatory to.
The treatment of refuges is one example, in a catalogue of changed that are causing an ongoing erosion of rights, aimed to promote fear that other people pose a threat, as as a manipulative political tool .
Biloela has gone one step further and taken practical action in one case, which serves as a positive example to other Australian communities.