HUMAN RIGHTS MEDIA RELEASE: THREE SRI LANKAN ASYLUM SEEKERS IN LIMBO - Their suffering continues. From Christmas Island to Prison to freedom to Darwin. More Lies. On October 22, 2009 the NOR 66 risked the high seas in a direct journey from Sri Lanka to Christmas Island, 27 days, with 30 Asylum Seekers. Three of them were Rwuan T. Senavirathna, Roshan Warnakulasuriya Fernando and Tharanga Warnakulasuriya Fernando (these two are cousins). Their are lives are at risk if they are returned to Sri Lanka. They spent more than six months each in Immigration Detention, mostly at Christmas Island. Without adequate evidence the AFP charged them separately as 'people smugglers' in the assumption that they were cooks and deckhands.
They each paid $7,500 to travel to Australia however they were doubted by the clandestine non-failsafe interrogations that lack scrutiny. Each spent considerable time in prison on remand - 15 months, 11 months, 10 months.
I had been visiting one of them at HAKEA Correctional Facility in WA for moral support and solace.I attended their court mentions, minimalist events where they were being railroaded. One was told by their lawyer to consider pleading guility, another had barely seen a lawyer despite one request after another. They were committed to trial for July 25.
One of them was arrested in April last year and tried to commit suicide in HAKEA, and then went on a hunger strike protesting his innocence. They had never been in any prison or before the Courts or the criminal justice systems in their lives.
Two weeks prior their trial they were suddenly released, their lawyers were surprised, they were surprised. They were taken to Jandakot Community Detention Centre where they were assigned Case Managers and were promised imminent freedom however after a couple of visits from me and a modicum of trust in the 'system' they were urgently flown out one morning, 7am, and their distress was evident in phone calls to me, to Darwin, to the notorious conditions of the maximum security Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin. I am able to call them and they me - they describe prison like conditions, depression, distrust, and do not understand why they were separated from the only personal support they had, which was with me - the various authorities knew this, so why would they do fly them out?
The AFP told The West Australian reporter Kate Bastians that a mistake had been made and that they were 'legitimate refugees' and that there was 'inadequate evidence' to proceed with the assumption that they maybe 'cooks and deckhands' and therefore perceived 'people smugglers'. Why were they charged in the first place if the evidence was not adequate?
The Immigration system and the detention process cannot be trusted and it is self evident by what has occurred during the last two years to Ruwuan, Roshan and Tharanga.
Please assist in following their plight, and if you can provide the investigative journalism.
ATTACHED IS AN EMAIL FROM THEM:
Ruwan Tharanga Senavirathna Subasigha Arachchilage
NOR 16 boat number NOR 66
I arrived from sri lanka to christmas island on october. 22. 2009. I was on christmas island for 7 months. Depatment fo immigrationshowedme a piece of paper and said that my name was wrong. I then corroected the name as the spelling was incorect. Then ofter 2 days they brought me to perth and told me i had a medical trasfes. After bering in perth for 3weeks i was sent to prison. nobody had explained to me before this day that i had to go to prison. The first i knew about it was when a Serco officer woke me up and tell me i had and interview with tha police. When i was with tha police i spoke with a lawier on tha telephone who then said to me to not speak with police tha police arrested me with 2 charges. I stayed in jail cell at police station that night an went to court tha next morning. When i was in court and met my lawyes he told me that he could not represent me as he and i were both black and had same surname. I then stood in front of tha judge whilst in a glass room. Tha judge told me that i needed to go to prison HAKEA. I was in prison for 1 year and 3 months and that was when i met you. I was released from prison on 7th of July and was told by tha judge BIRMINGHAM taht oll charges had been dropped. Three Serco officers picked me up from prison and took me JENTACOURT and stayed there for 3 weeks. I really enjoyed my teime at JANTACOURT as it was wery relaxing while staying at JANTACOURT I was told that i would be going to DARWIN detention centre by my case manager WENDY . When i arriwed to DARWIN detention i felt like i had gone back to maximum security prison due to high fences. I now feel like i have been to prison 2 times. I feel like i am treated like an ANIMAL. I don't kile to touch any thing as they are very dirty. There is a terrible smell near oll the rooms
I speak with my case manger his name is DAVE and he can not answer my questions. I am still waiting for my security claarance. I dont know why i am still waiting and wondes why it taking so long . I was in prison for 15 moths without reason but our boat owner already got his visa and i dont understand why he go his bifore me. I am only eating once a day and can only sleep for 2 hours per day. When i arrived in DARWIN i was mentaliy doing alright. but sike been in detention it is getting worse everyday.I can only do one thing and that is kill myself as i can not cope any more . This is not my whole story only a little bit. This story is the same for my 2 friends
Warnakulasuriya Tharanga Ranil Channa Fenando
NOR 03 boat number 66
Warnakula Suriya Roshan Sadeep Thajantha Fenando
boat number 66 .
Gerry Georgatos, Convener, Human Rights Alliance,
PhD Law researcher, Australian Deaths in Custody
Contact: 0430 657 309