'Bring them home' chanted for refugee family
CLOSE friends and supporters of the Tamil family gathered in their hometown of Biloela, calling on Australia's Federal Immigration Minister to save the Sri-Lankan Tamil asylum seeker family from deportation.
In an emotional vigil, on Sunday, which included the singing of Amazing Grace and a touching poem from close family friend Marie Austin, the hometown of the Tamil family showed both raw sadness and anger as the Biloela crowd chanted 'Bring them home'.
Residents in Biloela have been rocked ever since mother Priya, father Nades and their two daughters Kopika, 4 and Tharunicaa 2, were taken away from their Biloela home in March 2018 during a dawn raid after their visa had expired for one day.
Now with the Tamil family at the Christmas Island detention centre, awaiting their fate in the Federal Court, spokesperson from support group 'Home of Bilo' Angela Fredericks said that she will never stop fighting to bring the family home.
"They have tried to put ocean between me and my friends and I refuse to accept that,” Ms Fredericks said.
"They will never take this family from here.
"Priya has always said Biloela is where her life started, she will always be a Biloela resident and we will never stop for this family.”
Some hope was given to the Tamil family and locals in Biloela when an emergency injunction blocked the Federal Government from deporting the family last Thursday night.
At Melbourne Federal Court last Friday, Federal Court Justice Mordecai Bromberg extended the injunction for two-year-old Tharunicaa, blocking her removal from Australia until at least 4pm next Wednesday.
Then in the early hours of Saturday morning, the family was moved from Darwin to a Christmas Island detention centre where Ms Fredericks said mother Priya is doing her best to remain strong for her children and the Biloela community back home.
"I've had text messages I've received from Priya today and this is Priya to a tee, she sent me a message telling me to be strong and that they love me and they're with me today,” Ms Fredericks said.
"That's them even though they're going through this they care about us.
"The other messages we have received from them is that the girls are very distressed, continually crying on and off.
"I heard Kopika saying I'm scared, I'm lonely I don't like this place.”
Vigils and rallies were held all across Australia with supporters of the family putting pressure on Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Prime Minster Scott Morrison to intervene and keep them in the country.