No Country?

“The working class have no country. We cannot take from them what they have not got.” – Marx and Engles, Communist Manifesto

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says permanent resettlement is not an option for the Tamil asylum seeker family from Biloela in Queensland. The family cannot return to Sri Lanka where Tamils are persecuted.

Asylum seeker advocates say that their mother Priya’s family were subject to terrible treatment by the regime in Sri Lanka. Recent ABC reports claim federal court judge Kirton, hearing an appeal against deportation some time ago, noted that their Dad, Nades, has returned to Sri Lanka on three occasions. What the ABC report leaves out and what the Judge may not have considered is where Nades came from when he went back to Sri Lanka and why. Left as is, both the report and the judgement is, at best, misleading.

Even though Priya and Nades kids, Kopika and Tharnicaa, were born here in Australia they are deemed under Australian immigration law as being Sri Lankan. The ABC reported earlier today that: “Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said he had used his powers under the Migration Act to allow the Murugappan family to live in Perth while four-year-old Tharnicaa Murugappan undergoes treatment in hospital.”

West Papua
I remember another struggle where Australian authorities were less than transparent with the people. The case of Matthew Mayer where a Labor minister played a similar role as Alex Hawke. Eventually Matthew, a refugee from West Papua, lived and worked in West End in Brisbane. Matthew could never return home because he was a member of the resistance to the colonial aggression of the Indonesian military in that country. The One People’s army is regarded as an outlaw organisation both in Jakarta and in Canberra.

If Nades is in a similar situation (perhaps he was a member of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, I don’t know) he may never again be able to return to Sri Lanka. Matthew Mayer was never able to return to his homeland.

Refugee solidarity
Speaking outside the Brisbane Immigration detention centre as long ago as 2012, Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition said:

“Sri Lanka remains a dangerous place for anyone deemed to be an opponent of the Rajapaksa regime.

The use of torture is systemic.

“In recent months the British High Court has intervened to stop the deportation of Tamil asylum seekers from Britain to Sri Lanka because of the threat of torture they faced

Not long before Ian Rintoul’s observations, Sam Pari of the Australian Tamil Congress that ”… Sri Lanka is slowly becoming a military state,” … ”Their diplomatic posts are being taken over by military or former military personnel and I think that’s a very, very worrying sign.

It is looking to me that the Murugappan family have refused to surrender from life and went to work in the Biloela meatworks with the support of local members of the community. Like many workers, the Murugappans have no country.

Successive Australian governments have rejected asylum seekers claiming they are ‘economic refugees’. In this case, the federal court judge Kirton upheld the government spin claiming Murugappan family are not real refugees. I think both government and court are wrong. The government can’t send the family back to be persecuted hence the family is being held here without social security and without the right-to-work.

The reality is the Australian meat industry needs workers like the Murugappan family because of an acute labour shortage in this country.

Ian Curr
15 June 2021

One thought on “No Country?

  1. Cr. Sri supporting refugee protests in Brisbanee says:

    For my lunch break today I’ve ducked down to 299 Adelaide Street to show my support for the refugees and their allies who protest each Wednesday out the immigration department in their city. Both the major parties continue to take a cruel and unjustified hard line approach of turning refugees away or locking them up for years, even when they have nowhere else to go…

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