Cardiac patient flown from Nauru to Taiwan
Family on flight to Sri Lanka get last minute reprieve
‘Email Empathy‘ has noted the plights of just a few of the people seeking asylum in Australia as examples of widespread treatment by officials. These illustrate the unnecessary cruelty of the federal government’s policies. In the past couple of days, developments simply serve to underline that the only logic applied by the Department of Home Affairs and its Border Force seems to be to get rid of as many people who have sought refuge in Australia as possible … whatever the human toll and irrespective of the law.
On the Nauru Detention page, we included a situation where the Australian Border Force (ABF) refused to transfer an Iranian refugee from Nauru for urgent cardiac treatment despite repeated requests from health staff who had diagnosed her at “high and imminent risk of … heart attack or sudden death”. Fatemeh would not leave her young son alone on the island and the ABF would not allow him to travel with her. Yesterday, the Guardian reported that mother and son had been flown to Taiwan in order for Fatemah to receive the life-saving heart surgery she needed.
The Email Empathy post of yesterday – “ABF forcibly takes ‘beautiful integrated family’ in dawn raid over visa expired by one day” – told of a Biloela family who were in detention prior to being sent back to Sri Lanka despite the danger that would await the couple and their young Australian children. Today, we learnt of a last-minute legal intervention that resulted in Border Force officials removing the family from a plane just minutes before take-off from Perth to Sri Lanka. The plane made the journey without them but with a number of other Tamil people who were ‘removed’ from Australia by the Department of Home Affairs.
Aspects of these events are positive, for now. But both of these updates have done nothing to assure Australians that their government is motivated by humanitarian, legal or economic reasons. i.e.
- the reason that the ABF has begun using Taiwan for medical treatment unavailable on Nauru is that refugees brought to Australia for necessary healthcare may win a court injunction preventing their return to offshore detention. Taiwan is not a member of the UN general assembly, so cannot be a party to the refugee convention so refugees cannot claim protection there under the UN agreement.
The negative impact on the human beings involved – who can only be returned to their uncertain future and challenging conditions in offshore detention – and the expense are sacrificed for the political machinations that allow the Australian government to say that no one will ever be granted permanent refuge in Australia.
- the reason that the Biloela family remain on Australian soil is not the result of a change in approach by the ABF but because of the intervention of legal (and community) advocates who continue to oppose the government’s actions. The Guardian report today indicated that despite the fact that court documents had been lodged in the federal circuit court over a protection claim and directions hearing date was set for early May, the family’s house was raided, they were detained and were minutes from being flown to Sri Lanka.
This stay does not mean that the family will be remaining in Australia permanently. Many in similar situations have ultimately been denied refugee status and others have been returned to jeopardy despite legalities that should have prevented such an outcome.