News National Australia-wide protests call for Biloela family to be returned to adopted hometown

Australia-wide protests call for Biloela family to be returned to adopted hometown

The campaign for the Murugappan family to be allowed to return to Biloela in Queensland continues. Photo: AAP
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Protests are being held across Australia calling for a Tamil asylum-seeker family to be allowed to return to their adopted hometown of Biloela in Queensland.

Supporters of the Murugappan family, who lived in Biloela before being taken into immigration detention in 2018, have been gathering in major cities to express their outrage at the federal government for a lack of compassion.

Nades, Priya and their Australian-born girls Kopika and Tharnicaa, have been locked up for more than three years while their fight against deportation has gone through the courts.

During this time, a national campaign for their release has grown ever louder.

Advocates for the family say Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to transfer them to Perth from Christmas Island, where they have been for about two years, makes no improvement to their situation, as they remain in community detention.

“Community detention is just another form of immigration detention. Minister Hawke has done the bare minimum,” a Biloela resident told the Brisbane protest on Saturday.

Nades, the father, will not be able to work, and Priya, the mother, will not be able to study, she said.

Author and media personality Jamila Rizvi told the Melbourne rally the federal government was lying to Australians about its inability to release the Murugappan family.

Mr Hawke could at any moment intervene and release the family, she said, but the government is displaying “gratuitous cruelty and wasting taxpayer money”.

Reverend Tim Costello spoke about the power of compassion.

“Every politician knows showing grace to allow the Murugappan family to come here will not start the boats,” he said in Melbourne.

The Murugappan family from Biloela have been released into community detention.

The family was relocated to Perth from Christmas Island after four-year-old Tharnicaa was sent there for medical treatment.

They will be allowed to stay in the West Australian capital until their legal fight against deportation is resolved.

An open letter by 26 Australian Anglican bishops on Friday has implored the government to grant the family visas, giving them the chance to rebuild their lives.

“Robust studies show that detaining children severely impacts their mental, emotional and physical health long-term,” the letter says.