Feature Article

Australia's policies lead to deaths of Eezham Tamil refugees

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 03 October 2017, 23:32 GMT]
32-year-old Eezham Tamil asylum seeker, Rajeev Rajendran, lost his life after he had slit his own throat on 29th September to protest the inhuman conditions prevailing at the Manus Island, at the off-shore detention centre operated by a Spanish-owned private firm on behalf of the Australian government in Papua New Guinea. In the meantime, 42-year-old Eezham Tamil female, Santhiya, who has been languishing in an Indonesian refugee camp located in Jakarta lost her life on 1st of October due kidney failure, and the subsequent negligence of medical attention by the local authorities. The Australian government is known for its continued anti-people refugee policies, denying peoples fleeing from persecution and genocide.

Australia was also recently instrumental in watering down a UN Human Rights Council resolution against the crimes being committed against Rohingya people by the State of Myanmar. Australia was insisting on softening the text of the resolution at a closed-door meeting among the Council member states while some of the member states wanted a tougher resolution against Myanmar.

Recent news reports also indicate that the Australian government was offering money to Rohyngya boat refugees in an attempt to send them back to their homeland.

Australia, taking part in the US bandwagoning in the region, is long known for appeasing the Colombo-centric unitary state of genocidal Sri Lanka as in the recent case of its approach towards Myanmar.

It has also been financing the military and bureaucratic institutions of the SL State to strengthen its ‘capabilities’ of deporting, apprehending and preventing Eezham Tamil refugees from fleeing the island towards Australia.

Despite being abandoned by the UN system, the late Eezham Tamil woman Santhiya was recognized as a refugee by the UNHCR.

Her husband and brother were forcefully made to disappear by the occupying Sinhala military during the 2009 onslaught.

Santhiya, then fled to India, and from there to Indonesia to seek asylum in Australia. She has been languishing with her now orphaned 12-year-old for the past eight years in the Indonesian detention camp. The detention camp was earlier an overseas detention centre funded by the Australian government, which later moved its operations to Manus Island.

Santhiya's fate was left with the purview of the local authorities. The well-being and future of the orphaned son remains uncertain.

“These deaths are direct consequences of ‘protecting the border’ and ‘stop the boat’ policies of the Australian state,” Aran Mylvagnam of Tamil Refugee Council (TRC) told TamilNet on Tuesday.

These policies were schemes legislated to prevent refugees from landing on the Australian mainland and claiming asylum and temporary stay by forcefully processing them at overseas detention camps.

In the past years, a number of other refugees from Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhelat), Afghanistan and Pakistan have also lost their lives.

Similarly, Eezham Tamil refugees in Nauru as well as in Australia have taken their life to protest the refugee policy or known as the ‘stop the boat’ policies of the Australian government.

Rajendran’s death has also sparked protests at the Manus Island Detention centre, by fellow refugees from other countries.

Rajendran was initially detained in Christmas Island in 2013, while he was fleeing from his homeland due to threats issued from the occupying Sinhala military in Jaffna. He was then transported to Manus Island and detained there without being allowed to apply for asylum by Australian authorities. Four years elapsed, without any decision on his asylum status, a systematic approach applied by the Australian authorities against Eezham Tamil refugees.

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External Links:
RNZ: Family of deceased detainee wants Australia to repatriate body
The Sydney Morning Herald: Australia softens Rohingya UN resolution to accusations of 'whitewashing'
The Australian: Tamil asylum-seekers on Manus, Nauru set to be excluded from US deal



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