The new government in Australia finally granted visas to the Murugappan family. This allowed them to temporarily live and work in Biloela. However, the Tamil family remained in immigration detention since 2018. This was after their asylum claim got rejected. The case sparked an outcry.
Also, locals in Biloela campaigned for their return. Legal challenges to the decision to deny them protection remain before Australia’s courts. Australia can hold asylum seekers like the Murugappans.
But Prime Minister Anthony Albanese won an election last Saturday. He said that his government would make an exception for the Murugappans.
He stated, “We are a strong enough society to say that we should not treat people badly, to send a message to others.”But the family’s supporters called for the government.
Family friend Angela Fredericks tweeted that their journey home to Bilo marks the end of a long, painful chapter in their lives. And this is the beginning of a lifetime of healing and recovery. Priya Nadaraja and Nadesalingam Murugappan arrived in Australia. They sought asylum. They said they feared persecution in Sri Lanka because of their Tamil ethnicity.
Each settled in outback Biloela, where they married. They had two girls – Kopika, seven, and Tharnicaa, four.
But the government detained them in 2018. After the ruling, the family had no legal right to be in Australia.
Locals in Biloela fought for them to stay. They kicked off a campaign that won national support. And the backing of MPs from across the political spectrum.
A court injunction in 2019 ruled they could not get removed from the country until their case got resolved. As a result, they have spent more than 1,500 days in immigration detention. Much of this was on Christmas Island, an Australian outpost in the Indian Ocean.
Australia argues its strict policies on asylum seekers prevent human trafficking and deaths at sea. But the UN criticized its approach as inhumane.