Father Fears for 3-Year-Old Daughter as ‘Rigorous Imprisonment’ Awaits Sri Lanka Asylum Seekers
By Athena Yenko | July 10, 2014 2:52 PM EST
A father fears for his wife and three-year-old daughter's fate as they were being held on a Custom vessel awaiting Australia's final move on the 153 asylum seekers to be brought back in Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, a rigorous imprisonment awaits all of them.
Sri Lankan asylum seekers who were sent back by Australia cover their faces as they wait to enter a magistrate's court in the southern port district of Galle July 8, 2014. The 41 asylum seekers handed over on Sunday appeared before a magistrate's court in the port city of Galle on Tuesday. Sri Lankan police had said they were to be charged with leaving the country illegally and any found guilty would face "rigorous imprisonment", raising fears about rights abuses.
"Our daughter's name is Febrina. She likes to dress as a fairy. Her mother asked me to buy this dress for her. I haven't seen her since she was born," the father imagines his daughter as he spoke on ABC's 7.30 programme.
The father is living illegally in Europe as he fled from Sri Lanka after being tortured by security officials.
"We have had no contact with them and am so stressed over what's happened to them. There's no way they can return home. We can't live in our homeland, we can't live in India. I'm separated from them. I can't go and visit them and it's because of that my wife decided to take this perilous journey," the father said.
The father is calling for the Australian government to be considerate to safeguard his family "because if they are returned to Sri Lanka my whole family would be wiped out."
The terrifying fate that the asylum seekers will be facing was confirmed by a Sri Lanka police spokesman Ajith Rohana.
"Everybody will be produced before the Galle magistrate. They will be charged under the Immigrants and Emigrants Act. The sentence for those proved to have left illegally is two years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine. But if there are any facilitators, then they will be tried even if they have left via an authorised port legally," Rohana told Reuters.
While Sri Lanka authorities claimed that these asylum seekers were economic migrants, right groups claim otherwise. Advocate groups could attest that they flee their countries after experiencing torture, rape, and all possible forms of violence.
Another relative for Febrina called for Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to be kind with his family.
In a statement from theTamil Refugee Council, the relative called for Australian minister to stop their uncertainty and be transparent about the fate of all the children and families aboard the boat. The relative repeatedly asked Morrison to be kind to these people as they faced torture and death as soon as they set foot in Sri Lanka again.
However, the Australian government vowed not to bend its spine against asylum seekers; especially that a recent poll from Lowy Institute think tank revealed that 70 per cent of Australians support the policy.
Morrison in return appeals to human rights advocates to ponder about their advocacy. He said that the Australian government maintains its strict stance against asylum seekers. The government equally rejects political advocacy of those who have sought to pressure the government into a change of policy, Morrison said.
"Their advocacy, though well intentioned, is naively doing the bidding of people smugglers who have been responsible for almost 1,200 deaths at sea," Morrison said in a statement.
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