Images Copyright Neesha Bremner 2014 and cannot be used without permission.
On Christmas Island and at Broadmeadows on the outskirts of Melbourne, 46 refugees, 42 of whom are Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, are sitting in indefinite detention despite being recognised as legitimate refugees by the Australian government. The refugees received a negative viewing from ASIO who deem them a risk to national security. The reasoning behind the negative ruling has not been disclosed but it is assumed because as Tamil they may have supported the Tamil Tigers resistance during the genocide against their people by the Sri Lankan government.
The UN has labelled the detention “cruel and arbitrary” and in breach of international law. The Australian government refutes this despite some of the legitimate refugees being now held for five years without trial or charges and with no clear course for resolution even though there is the possibility of spending their lifetime behind bars.
Advocates for the refugees speaking at yesterday’s vigil say that the detainees include women, men and a child, Pari, who was born into detention. The refugees are suffering physiologically with many self harming and suicidal.
Around forty people attended the vigil with proceedings overseen by more than 10 representatives from the Victorian Police.