Bileloa family have committed no crime and deserve to be freed

Contributed by Jan Trewhella

This is for all of the people who don’t have a sound grip on the facts of this case or, worse, who’ve been taken in, hook line and sinker, by the political spin and fear mongering being promulgated by our politicians about the young, innocent Tamil family seeking asylum in Australia.

The TWO most fundamental points are that:

  1. It is not illegal to come to Australia without a visa to seek asylum and refugee status, if you have a genuine fear for your life,
  2. Priya and Nades and their two little daughters have not committed any crime.

There also appears to be a lot of unhelpful, untrue rumours being spread on social media and by specific individuals about Priya and Nades’ lives before fleeing to Australia.

Priya fled Sri Lanka after being made to watch her then fiancé and five other men being burned alive by Sri Lankan soldiers among other atrocities. She arrived in Australia in 2012.

There are also spurious rumours that people “have heard” that Nades has been back to Sri Lanka on holiday since arriving in Australia – this is untrue.

The issue around alleged travel was about travel that occurred during and just after the war when Nades had to leave Sri Lanka for his own safety and only returned for brief periods before having to leave again. Nades fled for the last time, after witnessing atrocities and serious threats were made against his life. He has not left Australia since arriving here in 2013.

Despite the Government’s statements to the contrary, there is no evidence that these threats no longer exist. Rather there IS evidence, as documented by the UN in a report released in 2019, that everything is not harmonious between the Sinhalese and the Tamils back in Sri Lanka.

More specifically, Tamils are still subjected to persecution and torture and there is evidence of them “disappearing” after encounters with the military. The UN report clearly stated that Sri Lanka is still not safe for Tamils.

According to past practice with Tamils who are deported and repatriated to Sr Lanka, it is expected that if Priya, Nades and their daughters are deported, at the very least Nades will be arrested on arrival and so may Priya. What does this mean for Kopika and Thauranicca?

In addition, much has been made by the Government of the allegedly “extensive” reviews undertaken of the family’s case by the Department and the Australian Courts.

Photo from the ABC

As I understand it from following this precious family’s Claim for Refugee Status, it was fast-tracked as quite a lot were in the early days. Generally this means that as suggested by the term, they have not had an opportunity since that “fast track” process to bring forward further, more substantial, evidence in support of their case.

My understanding is also that all of the court hearings were about challenging whether (on the part of the family)versus assuring (on the part of the Home Affairs Portfolio) the courts that standards of proper process had been met by the Department in the handling of the case.

Specifically, whether the family had received due process i.e. whether the authorities followed due process in considering their case rather than a review of the facts of the case themselves.

As previously stated, their case was “fast-tracked” and while Peter Dutton claims the Department re-examined the family’s claims, at no stage to my knowledge, was a review conducted of the case and, in particular the family’s claims, that was independent of the Department.

The latest appeal is because the protection claims of their youngest daughter have not been considered at all, after this avenue was blocked by the Department.

Finally, the Australian Parliament is elected to serve the people of Australia.

There has been a continued groundswell of support from ordinary Australians (aka voters) for the Government to use common sense and to show compassion and let this family stay in Australia. Over 230,000+ Australians have signed a Petition to that effect.

However, Peter Dutton or Scott Morrison have persisted in their position that showing mercy to one tiny family in real peril (as opposed to two au pairs in none) will jeopardise their “stop the boats” strategy. Well it didn’t stop all of those poor people infected with COVID-19 alighting from the Ruby Princess without the blink of a Border Force eye.

In addition, as the vast majority of asylum seekers now fly into Australia, the main game has shifted to our airports! And no picture of a rickety boat allegedly with 8 or 13 asylum seekers on board is going to change that.

Nor is granting permanent residency to a family who were fully integrated into a small Queensland town until they were ripped away in a terrifying pre-dawn raid and locked up in a Melbourne detention centre, only to be taken away again to the r=furthest point in Australia’s territories – the Christmas Island detention centre.

A centre the government has kept open, solely to house this lovely, peaceful family, and at a cost of millions of dollars to Australians.

Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton appear to have lost touch with those valuable attributes of common sense and compassion. Equally importantly, they appear to have forgotten the need to listen to the people of Australia.

This family has done nothing wrong. They have every legal right to seek asylum and refugee status in Australia. They have committed no crime. They are wanted here.

So, my plea to the Government at this time when compassion, kindness and empathy are so desperately needed, please demonstrate compassion, kindness and empathy for this family who are in genuine fear for their lives and give them permission to stay in Australia permanently and return to Biloela.

230,000+ Australians and many of the people of Biloela will support you.

#PleaseLetThemStay #hometobilo?”

Editorial comment: The recent article on the Bileloa family case by Ugly (20 April 2020) has created a significant response. A few of these said that the article claimed the family had been released. The article didn’t suggest this, although it did suggest that the case resulted in a victory. This was qualified this, by saying that it is now in the government’s hands. It is the opinion of the author. Jan Trewhella raises some important matters, which must get out there for all to see.

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